Irish immigration procedures continue to undergo change, particularly in the context of Brexit.
This alert highlights some recent updates and changes to Irish immigration and also details some reminders that may affect your company or employee population who rely on Irish immigration permissions.
EU Treaty Rights & Brexit
As the outcome of Brexit continues to be debated, the Irish Naturalisation & Immigration Services (INIS) issued an update recently regarding non-EEA family members of UK citizens seeking EU Treaty Rights. Non-EEA nationals can apply for rights to reside and work in Ireland on the basis of their family connection (i.e. spouse) to an EU national, commonly known as EU Treaty Rights. For example, currently an Indian national may apply for rights to reside and work in Ireland on the basis of their marriage to a UK national. As part of this update, the Irish authorities have advised that in the event of a no-deal, non-EEA nationals will no longer be able to rely on their family connection with a UK national to apply for rights to work and reside in Ireland.
Transitional arrangements will be put in place for those exercising these rights up to 29 March in order to facilitate their transfer to a different immigration arrangement to allow them to continue residing in Ireland. The Irish authorities are putting a communication strategy in place to engage with affected individuals in the event of a no-deal Brexit. They have also advised that they will issue further updates for UK nationals on 29th March in the event of a no-deal. In the event of a deal, the provisions of the Withdrawal Agreement on Citizens Rights will apply.
EY will continue to monitor the impact that Brexit will have on EU Treaty Rights for family members of UK nationals and provide updates.
Employment Permit/Immigration Updates and Reminders
1. Working Holiday Authorisation
The Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation (DBEI) and the Department of Justice and Equality (DOJ) have advised that it is no longer possible for someone to remain in Ireland and transfer from their Working Holiday Authorisation (WHA) permission to an Employment Permit. Those who hold WHA permission who wish to apply for an Employment Permit must:
- Receive an eligible job offer and relevant contract from a registered Irish employer.
- The individual must leave Ireland so that an employment permit application can be submitted to the DBEI.
- The individual must remain outside of Ireland while their application is in process.
Applications will be considered subject to the usual eligibility criteria.
- If the employment permit application is successful, the individual can then seek re-entry to Ireland.
2. Employment permit salary thresholds
Remuneration thresholds for all employment permits issued by Department of Business, Enterprise & Innovation (DBEI) are based on working 39 hours per week over 52 weeks (the minimum weekly contracted hours allowed for an employment permit is 20 hours per week). Employers must give consideration to the following:
- If the applicant is contracted for less than 39 hours per week, the remuneration must be increased pro-rata so that the individual is still being paid the required minimum annual remuneration for a 39 hour week. For example, the individual works a 35 hour week and the threshold for their permit application type is €30,000 per annum. Their hourly rate should be increased as follows: €30,000 ÷ 52 ÷ 35 = €16.48 per hour.
- If the applicant is contracted for more than 39 hours per week, the remuneration must be increased pro-rata by the applicable hourly rate. For example, the individual works a 40 hour week and the threshold for their permit application type is €30,000 per annum. The minimum annual remuneration must be increased as follows €14.79 × 40 × 52 = €30,763.20.
3. Changes in Circumstances for Employment Permit Holders
An employment permit is issued with conditions attached including the location where the employment must take place, remuneration to be paid and role to be performed. An employer is obliged to notify the DBEI of any changes in circumstances for the Employment Permit Holder. When this notification is received, the DBEI will consider the impact of this change and whether a new employment permit will be required.
Similarly, any changes that affects an individual’s immigration conditions and status should be communicated to the INIS. This includes change of address, termination of employment etc.
4. Changes to GNIB Appointment Booking Process
INIS has made changes to the Irish Residence Permit (IRP) booking system (in Dublin) in terms of appointment type selection. Going forward the most efficient way to make an appointment is for applicants to choose the category “All”. If another category is selected, the choices for appointments will be limited.
INIS are working to create a single category for the online booking form. At the moment only Dublin operates an online appointment system.
EY continue to see a high demand for appointments/registrations at the INIS registration office in Dublin. Due to the high level of demand, it is increasingly important for those looking to book appointments to be aware of this change.
5. Re-Entry Visa Application Process
INIS changed the re-entry visa application process. Applications for re-entry visas are no longer processed by appointment but must be submitted by registered post. In the event of an emergency, an online appointment system is in operation.
INIS have classified an emergency as the death or medical emergency of an immediate family member. Recently INIS created an option for urgent business travel, however, this requires the individual to provide a letter from their employer confirming the urgent business travel alongside proof of travel. The issuing of an emergency re-entry visa is at the discretion of the Irish authorities. Additional fees apply for those who apply for emergency re-entry visas. Individuals must have valid IRP permission in order to apply for re-entry visas.