In recent years not unlike many other European economies, Ireland has been heavily hit by the European Financial Crisis. This is in stark contrast to the rapid economic growth it experienced during the Celtic Tiger era when it was globally recognised as an exporter in both software and hardware. For 2013, the Irish are adopting a fresh approach to energise the economy. They are driving reforms aimed at making Ireland the Internet capital of Europe.

The government has announced that 2,000 additional Information and Communications Technology (ICT) graduates-level professionals will be provided in the coming year through the education system and the employment permits system, as part of a series of government-led reforms.

The Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation (DJEI) has announced a raft of updates to the employment permits system in Ireland. The purpose of these updates is to facilitate access to skilled workers where there are skills shortages in Ireland and the European Economic Area (EEA) labour market. These changes have been put in place to target shortages in the ICT sector. The new rules were effective from 10 April 2013.

The key changes which have been implemented to support the new drive and energy being created in the ICT sector are:

  • The Highly Skilled Occupations List (previously known as "eligible occupations list for Green Cards") has been extended and updated to correlate with known shortages of key skills in the labour market.

  • The requirements to meet the labour market test have been eased: (1) advertising a vacancy with the Department of Social Protection's employment services has been reduced from eight weeks to two weeks; (2) the requirement to advertise in a national newspaper has been reduced to three days; and (3) the requirement to advertise in a local newspaper has been opened to a job's website.

  • Certain categories of non-EEA nationals who are already lawfully resident in Ireland and hold valid immigration permissions, if offered employment in a recognised Highly Skilled Occupation List occupation may apply for an employment permit.

  • Non-EEA holders of intra-corporate transfer provider employment permits and contract service provider employment permits can now apply for other types of employment permit subject to the normal criteria.

  • Minimum salary thresholds in respect of employment permit applications, under the Work Permits category, have been reduced from €30,000 p.a. to €27,000 p.a. This is particularly targeted at ICT graduates of foreign colleges and for technical or sales support roles with non-EEA language requirements.

These updates show a commitment to efficiency and effective immigration in Ireland. Furthermore, the DJEI intends to issue further updates on 1 July 2013.

This follows two new initiatives issued by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service aimed at non-EEA migrant entrepreneurs. This progress emphasises Ireland's proactive approach to immigration.