Ireland – Improvements to Employment Permit Process Benefits Employers of Foreign Nationals

Several positive new changes to the Employment Permits scheme in Ireland benefit employers of foreign nationals.

Dublin
A new online application system will debut in September, making the application process for work permits easier for employers and foreign nationals in The Emerald Isle. Also announced last week, immediate changes were made to the Highly Skilled Eligible Occupations List (HSEOL) and the Ineligible Categories of Employment List (ICEL) allowing Irish sponsoring companies to employ more foreign nationals. Further, the requirements for Trainees under Intra-Company Transfers have also been relaxed.

The steady rise of Ireland’s labour markets

According to the Expert Group on Future Skills Needs (EGFSN), which advises the Irish government on current and future labour needs, the Irish labour market has seen steady improvement in the last three years, and that improvement is beginning to be felt by employers in worker shortages in certain high-demand skills. A recent study by the specialist recruitment firm Hays Ireland stated that Ireland is now beginning to experience a “talent mismatch.” In other words, while there is a measurable but declining unemployment rate (projected to be 7.5 per cent by September), Irish employers are finding themselves unable to fill certain skilled positions with local labour. This problem is exacerbated by the large emigration out of Ireland, which occurred during the last recession. As a result, employers are looking to foreign workers to fill the gaps in numerous sectors, including IT, engineering, and skilled construction.

What's changed?

Employment Permits Online System (EPOS) moves forward

The Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation (DJEI) announced last week that it will be assisting employers by making the Employment Permits process easier and faster for their foreign workers. In September, the DJEI will roll out its new Employment Permits Online System (EPOS), which will provide intuitive online application completion and filing, document submission, and fee payment for Employment Permits in Ireland. This much-anticipated improvement should result in a more convenient process with a faster turn-around time for applicants.Pro-Link GLOBAL’s KGNM office in Ireland reports that the currently-used employment permit application forms have already been withdrawn from use and are being replaced by the electronic procedure and a new suite of revised paper forms. The Employment Permit Section is asking applicants to delay filing new applications in August, if possible, in order to ease the transition to the new online process in early September. For immediate submission needs, the Section is entertaining urgent requests on a case-by-case basis and will provide paper copies of the new amended forms if necessary.

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Additions to occupation lists

Also to support employers experiencing labour shortages, the DJEI has made immediate additions to the HSEOL list, which determines whether an applicant holds an occupation eligible for a Critical Skills Employment Permit. The DJEI also made adjustments to the ICEL list of occupations ineligible for employment permits.The following occupations have been added to the HSEO
  • Paramedics
  • Respiratory physiologists
  • Tax consultants specializing in non-EEA taxes
  • Accountants working in multinational corporation (MNC) global audit services
Of particular welcome is the addition of qualifying accountants to the HSEOL. This will allow multi-national corporations operating in Ireland to more easily employ accounting professionals to assist in international tax filings and work in key senior finance roles. Officials are hopeful that this new measure will make Irish offices a more attractive option for multi-national business.Previously, such companies were limited to recruiting foreign national accountants credentialed by the relevant accountancy bodies in the British Isles. Now accountants registered or qualified by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, the Philippine Institute of Certified Public Accountants, or the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Pakistan also qualify for Employment Permits.In addition, the following occupations are now considered general skills in short supply and have been removed from the ICEL ineligible list and are thus now open to Employment Permit applicants
  • Legal associate professionals fluent in an official language (other than English) of a non-European Economic Area (EEA) state
  • Executive chefs, head chefs, sous chefs and specialist chefs specializing in a non-EEA cuisine are removed from the ICEL. Previously, these individuals fell under the ineligible Chef category of the Food Preparation and Hospitality trades section of the list

Relaxed Requirement for ICT Trainees

In the final noteworthy part of last week’s announcement, the DJEI reduced the minimum employment period for Trainees under the Intra-Company Transfer (ICT) Permit scheme from six months to one month. Now foreign national trainees only employed with their foreign employer for one month are eligible for assignments at the company’s branch or affiliate in Ireland. These changes to the HSEOL and ICEL lists and to the ICT trainee regulations are effective immediately, and the details will be incorporated into the new EPOS online application process and the accompanying amended forms due out in early September.

How these changes affect you

Irish employers and foreign nationals desiring to work in Ireland received some welcomed improvements to the Employment Permits scheme. The new EPOS electronic application system due to come online in early September should make it faster and more convenient to process Employment Permit applications. Further, employment opportunities for foreign nationals are growing in Ireland due to the steadily improving labour market. Labour shortages in certain key skills categories have led the DJEI to expand the opportunities for employers and foreign nationals in Ireland. Liberalization of the HSEOL and ICEL lists and the ICT scheme are the most recent positive changes.  As with any improvement in the process, there may be temporary inconveniences during the transition. While use of the current application forms has been suspended, the DJEI is optimistic that the new EPOS and accompanying amended forms will be available early in September. In the meantime, applicants may want to consider delaying submission of new Employment Permit applications until the new EPOS comes online. However, if there is a need that cannot wait, the DJEI is making accommodations for submitting applications over the next few weeks.Employers and foreign national employees anticipating moves in Ireland over the next few weeks should be in close contact with their immigration advisors to anticipate and respond to these changes effectively.

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