Some important changes in relation to the employment permit process were recently announced on 15 April 2009 by the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment. These will include more onerous qualifying conditions for new work permits being sought by first-time entrants to the labour market. Some of the changes will come into effect immediately and most from 1 June 2009. A summary of the changes is set out below:  

REVISED ARRANGEMENTS FOR THE GREEN CARD PERMIT SCHEME  

While Green Card permits are available to all occupations for which the salary is €60,000 or more, permits are available to only a restricted number of occupations within the €30,000 to €59,999 salary range. A recent review of this list of occupations has shown that skills shortages no longer exist in respect of certain areas. Therefore, the following occupations are being removed, with immediate effect, from the Green Card Permit eligible list in the salary range of €30,000 to €59,999:  

  • Healthcare: Registered midwives; physiotherapists; psychologists; social workers; medical physicists; and speech and language therapists.  
  • Financial Services: Economists; statisticians; underwriters; claims assessors and analysts; securities specialists; fund and investment management specialists; common law jurisdiction lawyers; investment fund professionals; fund accountants; fund valuations professionals; fund administrators; custody specialists; transfer agents; and hedge fund specialists.  
  • Industry/Services: Marketing Managers.  

These revised arrangements supplement the changes that were introduced earlier this year for Green Card Permit renewals. Such renewals are now made to the Garda National Immigration Bureau (GNIB) if residing in Dublin or the employee’s local immigration office if residing outside of Dublin. No formal application is needed to the Department of Enterprise Trade and Employment, and the process is now more straightforward.  

REVISED ARRANGEMENTS FOR WORK PERMITS  

Conditions applicable after 1 June 2009

These eligibility requirements apply only to first-time permit holders.  

The occupations of work riders (horse racing), domestic workers and heavy goods vehicle drivers are no longer eligible for new work permits. Existing permits for jobs in these categories will continue to be eligible for renewal.  

New work permits will be subject to a labour market needs test at both first application and permit renewal stages. Permit holders before 1 June 2009 will not have a labour market needs test applied when seeking to renew permits for the positions they currently hold.  

The labour market needs test now requires advertisement of the job vacancy for an increased period of eight weeks with the FÁS/EURES network and six days in the national media.  

Spouses and dependants of principal work permit holders who receive permits from 1 June 2009 onwards will be required to apply for work permits in their own right according to standard work permit eligibility criteria, including a labour market needs test and payment of the standard application fee. Spouses and dependants of individuals who have applied for permits prior to this date will not be subject to the new criteria.  

Short-time working/Redundancy  

The Department will consider applications for the renewal of all work permits, current and future, where the employee has been placed on short-time working on a case-by-case basis.  

Where any permit holder, current or future, has been made redundant, they are required to notify the Employment Permits Section immediately. They will then have up to three months to obtain alternative employment, subject to the terms of their permission to remain. From 1 June 2009, a labour market needs test will be required in respect of any such alternative employment. If they cannot get another job within three months of being made redundant, they are required to contact the immigration authorities to establish their status beyond that period.  

REVISED FEES  

The renewal of any work permit granted after 1 June 2009 will be subject to a renewal fee of €750 for a six-month work permit, €1,500 for up to 24 months and €2,250 for up to 36 months.