The new year is barely a week old but there has already been some important developments for those looking to move to Ireland through the employment permit route. It has been reported by The Irish Times this week that some 2,855 people are in the employment permit queue at present, compared to 2,500 at the same point last year – causing a significant employment permit backlog for those looking to make the move to Ireland.
Before Christmas, we brought you news that a number of changes to the rules surrounding Ireland’s employment permit system were to be introduced on January 01st. One of these reports brought news on the widening of eligible criteria to include chefs, construction workers and certain nursing professions in the highly sought-after Critical Skills category.
Another report we brought to you from November highlighted the proposed increases in the minimum annual salary thresholds for Critical Skills applicants – these changes also came into effect on January 01, 2020.
It is understood that a 45 percent increase in applications in December has been the primary factor in causing this employment permit backlog for people awaiting decisions for permission to work in the State. The Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation, which administers the scheme, had managed to get the figure down to 2,238 at the beginning of December, but there was a rush in the last two weeks of the year in advance of changes to employment permit regulations which came in on the first day of 2020.
With a general election due in Ireland in the coming months, it should come as no surprise that opposition parties have used this current employment permit backlog as a stick to beat the incumbent Fine Gael government with. Robert Troy, the Fianna Fáil spokesman on business had this to say on the matter:
“I have been contacted by many businesses since becoming enterprise spokesperson, who are very worried about not being able to fill positions due to severe skills shortages. It also represents a massive competitiveness challenge to Ireland’s economy.”
However, it would be unfair to define this current employment permit backlog issue as little more than a political squabble. In fact, the increase in processing times for employment permits has caused worry among many multinationals, and has led for calls for improved efficiencies and enhanced digitization of the existing process.
Fast-track applications from so-called “trusted partners” have seen their average waiting period grow from three to four weeks to six weeks as a result of the spike, while standard applications are taking 12 weeks rather than 10 or 11.
It is unclear what long term impact the current employment permit backlog will have on Ireland’s attractiveness as a destination, particularly for the growing number of tech companies that call the country home. But, it is clear that the issue will require some close thought in the coming weeks and months.