Ireland Enacts Employment Permit Law Changes

By Daniel King Nov 6, 2014
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Ireland’s Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation announced a full list of all the changes under the Employment Permit (Amendment) Act 2014, which was implemented Oct. 1. The changes are extensive and cannot easily be summarized; however, a list of the key changes follows.

Creation of New Categories

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

  • A new Critical Skills Employment Permit to replace the existing Green Card.
  • A new Spouse and Dependent Employment Permit for spouses and dependents of Critical Skills Employment Permit holders.
  • A new General Employment Permit to replace the Work Permit.
  • A new Reactivation Employment Permit, for situations where a foreign national who entered the country on a valid Employment Permit and then 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.
  • A new Exchange Agreement Employment Permit, issued pursuant to certain specific international agreements.
  • A Sport and Cultural Employment Permit.
  • A new Internship Employment Permit, a one-year maximum permit, issued if the applicant is studying outside the country and the relevant work experience in Ireland is a requirement for the completion of that course of study.
  • The Intra-company Transfer Permit category continues to exist but has undergone some changes.
  • 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 law retains and extends the 50:50 quota rule—whereby the Irish entity may not have more than 50 percent non-European Economic Area (EEA) (the EU plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway) national employees—to all applications, both for new and renewal applications, regardless of applicant.

The new law 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 startups.

New Application Forms

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

Labor Market Test

The Act retains and extends the requirement for a labor market test for all new applications for General and Contract Service Provider Employment Permits, regardless of applicant (employer or employee).

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

  • Where the job is an occupation included on the Highly Skilled Eligible Occupations List.
  • Where the job offer is in respect of an eligible employment with a minimum annual remuneration of €60,000 euros.
  • Where a recommendation from government agencies Enterprise Ireland or IDA Ireland has been made in relation to the job offer.
  • Where the job offer is for a caretaker of an individual 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.
  • 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 Oct. 1, 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 department will only refund 90 percent of it. The fee for an employment permit must now be paid by electronic transfer: checks will not be accepted. The fee must be paid by the applicant, i.e., the employer/employee/connected person or contractor, or their authorized agent.

If an employee is married or in a civil partnership with an EEA/Irish national the fee is waived.

Health Insurance Requirement

The employer must specify on applications for general employment, critical skills employment, intra-company transfer and contract for services permits, 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 Expiration 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 expiration date of the current permit.

Changes to Intra-company Transfer (ICT) Permits

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 Authorization of Agent page on the application form will now need to be signed by the sending organization, the Irish organization, the employee and the authorized agent. Original “wet” signatures from each are required. Note that this will add administrative time to applications.

Daniel King is communications director for Peregrine Immigration Management, which provides global immigration management software, training, project work and consulting services.

Republished with permission. © 2014 Peregrine.

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