Applying for an Employment Permit
When making an Employment permit application it is extremely important that companies review the guidelines and supporting documentation to ensure that all the requested material and information is included in the application, this will help to speed up the application process and reduce the need for the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment (DETE) to contact companies to follow up on elements that maybe missing from applications.
- All the information on how to apply for an Employment permit, what type of permit to apply for, and eligibility is available at Employment Permits - DETE (enterprise.gov.ie)
- When applying for a General Employment Permit you are required to complete a Labour Market Needs test, all the details to undertake this process can be found at Labour Market Needs Test - DETE (enterprise.gov.ie). You must complete this accurately as the current legislation allows absolutely no discretion where companies have failed to carry it out correctly.
- When making an Employment permit application it is essential to consult the relevant employment permit checklist prior to commencing the process. All the details associated with an application for each of the relevant permit types, including the steps involved, can be found at Employment Permits Checklists - DETE (enterprise.gov.ie)
- There is a very useful reference document that addresses queries about Employment permit applications at Employment Permits FAQs - DETE (enterprise.gov.ie)
Actions Being Taken to Address the Current Backlog in Employment Permit Processing
- The Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment (DETE) saw a significant increase in applications over the course of 2021 - from the start of January to the end of December 2021, some 27,666 applications were received, representing a 69% increase over the same period in 2020 (16,293) and a 47% increase on 2019 (18,811), which itself represented an 11 year high in applications. The current application rate in 2022 (until 14 March) will equate to 32,000 permits if continued for the rest of the year.
- The Department issued 16,275 employment permits in 2021, and processed a total of 17,968 applications which represents a significant volume of activity. The impact of the increased demand has resulted in a significant backlog, which has increased from 1,000 in April 2021 to approximately c. 10,900 at the start of January 2022 and is now (14 March) just over 9,000.
- In addition, the extension of categories of employment permits, following the latest Review of the Occupational Lists, that was announced at the end of October 2021 has increased the availability of employment permits for these roles, it resulted in c. 3,000 permits for the Agriculture sector.
- The Department recognises the impact delays on the processing times for Employment permits has for businesses and their workers and has developed an action plan to bring down the backlog, built up over the pandemic. The action plan includes both additional staffing and systemic changes.
The staffing actions being taken include
- Recruitment of additional permanent and temporary staff. This is an increase of permanent processing capacity by 125% and an increase overall capacity by 225% from the original base. When all recruitment is completed, the processing team will be three and a quarter times the size it was in early November 2021.
- Temporary reassignment of staff from other areas of the Department with relevant skills.
- Increased overtime.
- The action plan has already begun to deliver results with the backlog reduced by c. 1500 since its peak in January 2022.
- As the plan of action is fully implemented it is expected that there will be positive progress achieved in reducing the backlog by the end of Q1 with it substantially reduced by the end of Q2 2022. Early Q3 should see a return to more normal processing timeframes.
- In addition, further systemic changes have also been introduced. The Department has worked with key stakeholders to streamline and extend the time period for General Employment Permits (GEP) issued to doctors in Publicly funded hospitals. This will result in major efficiencies for the Employment Permits Section, by eliminating the number of employment permit applications requiring processing.
- The Department has always requested firms to submit applications 12 weeks before the staff member is required.
- The Department provides regular updates on its website in relation to processing times and engages directly with key stakeholders including the IDA, Enterprise Ireland, AmCham, IBEC, representative groups and individual companies, in addition to issuing updates on relevant employment permit matters through the Employment Permits Trusted Partners network.
- New Employment Permit and Renewals Update: In addition to the recruitment of additional staff the Employment Permits Section is placing a particular focus on ‘new’ employment permit applications over renewal applications for existing permit holders. It is important to note that once a Renewal application has been submitted within the period prescribed under Section 20(2) of the Employment Permits Act 2006 (as amended), see below, the non-EEA National can continue to work while the application is awaiting processing. Renewal applications will of course continue to be processed, however DETE’s focus will be directed at new applications in the main processing queue. Therefore, Renewal applications will have their own separate processing queue and timeline. DETE understand circumstances may arise whereby a non-EEA National may need to leave the State and would require their renewal permit upon re-entering. In such circumstances DETE require that the individual contact them immediately so that they can make appropriate arrangements to ensure their application is processed ahead of time.