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IRELAND – Changes to Employment Permit Legislation Announced and Implemented

The Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation (DJEI) has now announced a full list of all the changes under the Employment Permit (Amendment) Act 2014, which was implemented by the Department on 1 October 2014. You can read our previous alert on this subject here. The changes are very extensive and cannot easily be summarised here; however, a list of the key changes follows. Please contact us for more information!

Creation of New Categories

The new law provides for nine different purposes for which an employment permit may be granted, as follows:

  1. A new Critical Skills Employment Permit to replace the existing Green Card;
  2. A new Spouse and Dependent Employment Permit for spouses and dependents of Critical Skills Employment Permit holders;
  3. A new General Employment Permit to replace the Work Permit;
  4. A new Reactivation Employment Permit (for situations where a foreign national who entered the State on a valid Employment Permit but who fell out of the system through no fault of their own or who has been badly treated or exploited in the workplace, may work legally again);
  5. A new Exchange Agreement Employment Permit (issued pursuant to certain specific international agreements);
  6. A Sport and Cultural Employment Permit;
  7. A new Internship Employment Permit (a one year maximum permit, issued if the 
applicant is studying outside the state and the relevant Work Experience in Ireland is a requirement for the completion of that course of study.)
  8. The Intra Company Transfer Permit category continues to exist but has undergone some changes (see below).
  9. A Contract for Services Permit category, which replaces the Contract Service Provider class of Work Permit Employment Permit.

Changes to Eligible and Ineligible Categories Lists

The new legislation has greatly expanded and further defined the occupations on the Highly Skilled Eligible Occupations list; i.e. occupations for which applicants may be granted a Critical Skills Employment Permit. Further details of this list can be found here.

The Ineligible Categories List has also been considerably expanded and further defined, more details are available at here.

Quota/Ratio Rule

The new legislation retains and extends the 50:50 Quota Rule, whereby the Irish entity may not have more than 50% non-EEA national employees, to all applications, both for new and renewal applications, regardless of applicant (previously if the employee applied, the 50:50 rule was waived.)

The new act does make some allowance for the waiver of this requirement, including for renewal applications for permits which were originally issued prior to the Act, and for enterprise start ups

New Application Forms

The DJEI has released new forms which can no longer be filled out online. These new application forms must be handwritten (similar to old forms pre December 2013) and require ‘wet’ original signatures from all parties involved. The new forms can be accessed here.

Labour Market Test

The Act retains and extends the requirement for a labour market test for all new applications for General and Contract Service Provider Employment Permits, regardless of applicant (employer or employee) (previously if the employee applied, then the labour market test could be waived for Work Permits).

Labour market tests may still be waived in certain circumstances, as follows:

  1. Where the job is an occupation included on the Highly Skilled Eligible Occupations List
  2. Where the job offer is in respect of an eligible employment with a minimum annual remuneration of €60,000EUR.
  3. Where a recommendation from Enterprise Ireland or IDA Ireland has been made in relation to the job offer
  4. Where the job offer is for a Carer of a person with exceptional medical needs and the non-EEA national has been providing care to the person before the application was made and that person has developed a high level of dependence on that non-EEA national
  5. In the case of a General Employment Permit application, where the job is offered to a non-EEA national who held a General Employment Permit or a Work Permit Employment Permit and who, on a date after 1 October 2014, was made redundant and the redundancy occurred within the previous six months. This waiver only applies where the Department has been notified of the redundancy within four weeks of the date of dismissal.

Fee Changes

Application fees will remain the same; however, if the application is rejected the DJEI will only refund 90% of the fee.

However, now the fee for an employment permit must now be paid by electronic transfer: cheques will not be accepted. The fee must be paid by the applicant i.e. the employer/employee/connected person or contractor, or their authorised agent.

If an employee is married or in a civil partnership with an EEA/Irish national there is now no fee to the DJEI for an 
employment permit.

Health Insurance Requirement

The employer must specify on applications for General Employment Permits, Critical Skills Employment Permits, ICT & Contract Service Provider, the amount payable by the employer for Health Insurance and the name of the Health Insurance provider. Renewal applications must be submitted with documentary evidence from the employee providing proof of payment.

Passport Expiry Dates

Employees’ passports must now be valid for at least twelve months after the date of application for both first time applications and renewals (previously , for renewals, passports only needed three months’ validity).

Renewal Applications

Renewal applications (where applicable) must now be submitted within 16 weeks prior to the expiry date of current permit

Changes to Intra Company Transfer Permits

Salary Rule

For renewal applications, the employee must have been earning at least the Irish national minimum wage (€8.65 per hour on a 39 hour week) while in Ireland on ICT status. Wage slips will have to be provided as proof of this.

Additionally, a breakdown of salary, deductions allowances as well as payments for board and accommodation and health insurance that the assignee will receive is now required for the application form.

Signatures on Application Form

The Authorisation of Agent page on the application form will now need to be signed by the sending organisation, the Irish organisation, the employee and the authorised agent – original ‘wet’ signatures from each are required. This will add administrative time to applications.

Background

The new legislation, along with other recent immigration reforms under the government’s Action Plan for Jobs, is aimed at increasing the number of skilled graduates available in Ireland, especially in Information and Communication Technology (ICT) occupations.

Action Items

  • These changes are likely to result in a temporary slowdown in employment permit processing times, while the changes are implemented
  • The changes are very extensive; please review this alert and contact us, or Corporate Care directly; for more information.

This news alert was prepared using information provided by Corporate Care Relocation

DISCLAIMER: The information contained in this immigration alert has been abridged from laws, court decisions, and administrative rulings and should not be construed or relied upon as legal advice. If you have specific questions regarding the applicability of this information, please contact Peregrine © 2017 Peregrine Immigration Management Ltd.