We outline the latest contingency arrangements put in place by the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation (DBEI) and Department of Justice and Equality (DJE) for foreign nationals seeking to obtain and maintain permission to work and reside in Ireland in the midst of a global pandemic.
Electronic Submission of Applications to the Employment Permit Section
The Employment Permit Section of the DBEI continue to work remotely and have established mailboxes allowing for electronic submission of applications.
These include applications for Trusted Partner status (new and renewal), Stamp 4 Support, Review of a Decision (Appeals) in addition to the Surrender of Permits, Notification of Redundancy and Cancellation of Permits.
These practical changes to an online operation of the Employment Permit Section have resulted in an uninterrupted service for employers and employees alike.
Entering Ireland from Abroad
Ireland’s borders remain open. The Irish Authorities advise anyone coming into Ireland, apart from Northern Ireland and individuals arriving in Ireland from locations with a security rating of ‘normal precautions’ (‘green’), to restrict their movements for 14 days and this includes citizens and residents returning to Ireland. The ‘green list’ is normally updated every fortnight and currently includes the following countries:
Restricting movements means staying indoors in one location and avoiding contact with other people and social situations as much as possible. To ensure that this is being observed all passengers arriving to Ireland from overseas are obliged to complete a mandatory Public Health Passenger Locator Form and to submit it to the relevant authority at their port of entry. Exemptions are also in place for providers of essential supply chain services such as hauliers, pilots and maritime staff.
Border Management will facilitate employment permit holders in entering Ireland 14 days prior to their permit start date to allow for this time in which they must restrict their movement. Employers should take this period of time into account when estimating the date on which a new employee can be on-boarded.
For visa-required foreign nationals, there has been a gradual resumption of visa services since 22 June 2020 with Long Stay “D” visa applications such as employment permit holders prioritised, as well as those identified under criteria as Emergency/Priority visas.
There are still restrictions in place in many countries, so in locations where it was not possible to resume from 22 June 2020, the processing of visa applications has been staggered and the measures in place for the relevant Irish Embassy/Mission need to be considered.
New Online Renewal System for Irish Residence Permits
A new online Registration Renewal system for all non-nationals based in Dublin went live on 20 July 2020. This means that anyone looking to renew their registration no longer have to book an appointment and attend the registration office in person. Instead, applicants or their authorised agents can complete an application form, upload copies of supporting documents online, pay the applicable fee and then submit the applicant’s passport and current Irish Residence Permits (IRP) card via registered post. Documents are checked and, if approved, the passport will be stamped and returned by registered post and a new IRP card is issued by express post.
First time registration must still be carried out in person at the relevant office. Those residing in Dublin are currently being advised to request an appointment by email to the Burgh Quay Registration Office while the previously used online system remains suspended.
Automatic Extension of Irish Residence Permits
While waiting on their new IRP, existing non-national residents can take comfort in the recent notice issued by the Immigration Service Delivery (ISD) that IRPs due to expire between 20 August 2020 and 20 September 2020 are automatically renewed for a period of 1 month. This is further to previous automatic extensions announced by the ISD by way of notices on 20 March 2020, 13 May 2020 & 16 July 2020.
The contingency plans put in place by administrators of the Irish Immigration system has proven effective. While there is some delay with certain permissions while Government staff get to grips with backlogs and new systems, there has also been a welcome reduction in wait times for employment permit applications.
Employers with offices based in Ireland can be confident that our immigration system remains operational within practical parameters aimed at reducing the spread of COVID-19.