It has been a busy and positive year to date on the Irish immigration front, and it is not set to slow down any time soon.
With Brexit now deferred until the Autumn, the focus has somewhat shifted from panic to composure. However, many companies are continuing to plan and account for the immigration impacts Brexit may have. The deferral has given employers more time to consider and plan for their globally mobile employees.
We are seeing an increase in queries about compliance with the EU Posted Worker Directive. Employers should continue to consider how the directive could affect current and future assignment processes.
While the Common Travel Area will be maintained, the areas of Van der Elst Permission and EU Treaty Rights remain a little more unclear.
One of the most notable and welcome changes this year was the abolition of the requirement for spouses of Critical Skills Employment Permit holders to obtain an employment permit. The obligation became effective in March 2019 and has seen spouses of Critical Skills employment permit holders get Stamp 1G immigration permission.
The change offers much more flexibility to spouses employment options and indeed, their ability to start employment immediately on arrival in Ireland. The introduction of the pre-clearance scheme in April 2019 for de-facto partners of Critical Skills employment permit holders has provided more certainty to those individuals.
The abolition of the re-entry visa requirement for visa-required nationals has been warmly received. Re-entry to Ireland with an Irish Residence Permit is reportedly smoother. The change removes a burdensome and time-consuming step from the Irish immigration process for nationals who need visas.
The current processing time for employment permit applications (four weeks for Trusted Partner and 13 weeks for standard applications) is evidence of the current activity in the Irish market. With Brexit looming and a booming economy in the technology and construction sectors, there does not seem to be any signs of the Irish market slowing up.
This time of year always sees a slight increase in processing times with many non-EEA doctors due to begin working in Ireland from 1 July. The transition from Summer to Autumn also generally sees an increase in demand for GNIB appointments. Students who have recently graduated are seeking Stamp 1G Graduate Scheme permission, and many students due to start studies in Ireland are seeking their relevant immigration permissions.
Individuals should ensure they leave ample time to schedule an appointment for obtaining or renewing their IRP to avoid significant gaps in their Irish residence permission.
The Atypical Working Scheme Division has also seen an increase in the volume of applications over recent months. This looks set to continue.
Again, this is evidence of the level of short term project work taking place in Ireland in the current economic climate.
Construction project managers, civil engineers and certain other occupations within the construction sector have been included on the Highly Skilled Occupations List in April. Employers and individuals have welcomed the change.
The public consultation on the review of the occupations lists is due to conclude on 12 July. Any changes are likely to be reflective of areas of the market starved of particular skills.
The DBEI continue to accept Stamp 4 applications after 20 months of employment. However, an applicant must complete 21 months of work needs before the application will be processed. The interim measure was introduced to reduce the volume of Stamp 4 support letter applications being received by the DBEI.
Expansion of the operation of the e-gates at Dublin Airport, initially opened in 2017, became effective on 1 June 2019. The e-gates are fully functional in Terminal 1, with operations in Terminal 2 on the horizon. The scanners at the new e-gates can read the new passport card, allowing for smoother movement of EU/EEA nationals across the Irish border.
The introduction of a new five-year multi-entry visa option for Chinese tourists coming to Ireland was announced on June 2019. The new visa option is a welcome introduction for Chinese nationals and is evidence of the recognition of the importance of the Chinese tourist market and the attractiveness of Ireland as a tourist destination for Chinese citizens.
The criteria for the Immigrant Investor Scheme were updated on February 2019 with a more stringent focus now on due diligence of applicants and comprehensive guidelines for eligibility, which provides more certainty and guidance for potential investors.
The INIS service improvement plan continues to be developed and worked on by the relevant committees. The outcomes of this plan will continue to be positive and move to align the Irish immigration system with other EU countries becoming more technology-focused and reducing the administrative burden.
Director, PwC Ireland (Republic of)
Tel: +353 1 792 6209
Senior Manager, PwC Ireland (Republic of)
Tel: +353 1 792 6117
Manager, PwC Ireland (Republic of)
Tel: +353 1 792 7165