IRELAND: Upcoming Changes to the Employment Permits System

The Minister for Business, Enterprise & Innovation has announced changes to the employment permits system, which become effective 1 January 2020, to address immediate labor shortages in key sectors such as hospitality, construction, health and road haulage. The changes reflect the fact that Ireland is now at full employment, and labor market demand in many sectors is outstripping supply.

What Are the Changes?

The changes mean that: 

  • All chef grades are now eligible for an employment permit, and the occupation will no longer be subject to quotas.
  • All nurses can now qualify for a Critical Skills Employment Permit - which brings immediate family reunification, broad access to the Irish labor market for family members, and a fast track to long term residency after two years.
  • Most professional occupations in the construction sector can now qualify for a Critical Skills Employment Permit. Technician and construction support occupations - such as Foreman, Architectural Technician and Construction Safety Officer - can qualify for General Employment Permits.
  • Other changes include an increase of the quota for HGV drivers by 200. 

Also effective 1 January, the following previously-announced changes will affect Critical Skills Employment Permits and the Labour Market Needs Test:

  • The minimum salary threshold for Critical Skills Employment Permits will increase from €30,000 to €32,000 where the position is on the Critical Skills Occupations List and where the candidate has a relevant degree or higher.
  • The minimum salary threshold for Critical Skills Employment Permits will increase from €60,000 to €64,000 for all other positions (other than those on the Ineligible Categories of Employment for Employment Permits).
  • The time period for advertising a vacancy with the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection (as part of the Labour Market Needs Test) will increase from 14 days to 28 days.
  • The Department of Business, Enterprise & Innovation have confirmed that applications submitted up to and including 31 December 2019 will be considered with the existing remuneration thresholds, even if they are processed after 1 January.

Our Advice

Employers who may be affected are encouraged to contact a Newland Chase immigration specialist for case-specific advice.

For general advice and information on immigration and business travel to Ireland, please email us at