Irish immigration update: Employment permits, GNIB and citizenship

02 August, 2019

Employment permits regulation update

In response to an ever-evolving labour market, changes to employment permits regulations had been expected by practitioners for some time. They have arrived by way of the Employment Permits (Amendment) (No. 2) Regulations 2019. The changes reflect the willingness of authorities to engage with users of the employment permits system and the wider labour market. Some of the updates will take immediate effect, while others will take effect in 2020.

The main changes of interest to employers are:

  • With effect from 1 January 2020, the salary threshold for eligibility for a Critical Skills Employment Permit will increase from €30,000 to €32,000 (where a degree qualification is required on the Highly Skilled Occupations List)  and from €60,000 to €64,000 (where the individual has relevant experience and a degree qualification is not essential) . This will obviously have an impact on employers from a planning and monetary perspective. The change applies to Critical Skills Employment Permit applications only 
  • The Labour Market Needs Testing period is set to increase to 28 days (from the current 14 days) effective from 1 January 2020. This is likely to be greeted with mixed reactions from employers as this will increase lead in times for the hiring of a non-EEA national.  This will only impact General Employment Permit applications that cannot avail of the advertising waiver.
  • Applicants must now hold a passport valid for 6 months from the date of filing of an employment permit application. This had previously been 12 months. However visa required nationals should remember that they will still need a validity period of 12 months as this is required for an entry visa application - this change is with immediate effect

Visa application updates

In a move that will be welcomed by those applying for Irish entry visas from Britain, the Embassy of Ireland recently announced a new visa application service which came into effect on 15 July. 

VFS Global, UK Ltd. will now accept visa applications on behalf of the Irish Embassy. VFS will have five application centres based in London, Manchester, Birmingham, Edinburgh & Cardiff, which will be welcomed by applicants not living in London. 

The online application process will remain the same. However, following online submission, the applicant can then visit one of the VFS centres without an appointment. Applicants should check the Embassy website for details of full addresses and opening hours of each of the VFS centres.  Applicants should also note that  the Visa Office Public Counter in Cromwell Road has now closed. 

General employment permit holders applying for an entry visa through the Irish Embassy in New Delhi in India should note that the checklist on the website for General Employment Permit holders relates only to General Employment Permit holders in the catering industry, agricultural sector, a company with less than 100 staff and/or a company that has been registered with CRO for less than 24 months. There had been some confusion when the notice was made public however the Embassy has now clarified this on their website. 

GNIB appointments and INIS online 

Lengthy delays in obtaining GNIB appointments at Burgh Quay are set to continue for the remainder of this year. Individuals are reminded to bear this in mind when seeking an appointment and are encouraged to arrange to book an appointment in advance of arrival in Ireland.  The move to an overall online system for INIS is imminent and is expected to be implemented on a phased basis with student registrations going online from 26 August 2019 and Atypical Working Scheme applications are due to go online in Q4 of 2019. 

The online system for third level non-EEA students will alleviate pressure on the in-person appointment system as it will free up those slots which would have otherwise been allocated to students.  This is a welcome move particularly coming into the busy season for students. It is expected to benefit over 8,000 students. The online renewal system will initially be available to students who live in Dublin. For anyone outside of the greater Dublin area, registrations will continue to be completed at the local  Garda District Office.

The move to an overall online system for INIS will continue into 2020 with a view to designing an online portal for individuals who can login and view their prior immigration history, if applicable. This will undoubtedly be welcomed by users of the system who should be in a position to access their immigration records with ease. There is no definite date for completion and implementation may not be seamless however it is a move in the right direction and certainly in line with the ever evolving online world! 

Citizenship applications 

Citizenship has certainly been a hot topic in the media here over the last number of weeks. In an unexpected High Court decision, it was ruled that anyone applying for naturalisation must not leave Ireland in the year preceding their application. 

The Department is actively working on finding solutions to the position as a matter of priority.  It remains unconfirmed as to what the outcome or impact on current applications will be however it is likely there will be a delay in the processing of current applications pending a legislative review.

Contact us

Mary O'Hara

Partner, PwC Ireland (Republic of)

Tel: +353 1 792 6215

Anne Bolster

Director, PwC Ireland (Republic of)

Tel: +353 1 792 6209

Aoife Kilmurray

Senior Manager, PwC Ireland (Republic of)

Tel: +353 1 792 6117

Lindsay Tester

Manager, PwC Ireland (Republic of)

Tel: +353 1 792 7165

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