As of January 1, 2020, a number of changes were introduced to the Irish employment permit system. If you are from a non-EEA country and want to live and work in Ireland in 2020, then you need to pay close attention to this news.
EEA countries include all European Union (EU) countries, plus Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein and, for the purposes of employment regulations within the single market, Switzerland (thought it is not technically an EEA member country).
The biggest change that will come into effect on January 1 is in terms of annual salary requirements for Critical Skills Employment Permit applicants. The minimum annual salary for Critical Skills Employment Permits will rise to EUR 32,000 for roles requiring a degree on the Critical Skills Occupation List, up from EUR 30,000 at present, while Critical Skills Employment Permit applicants who have relevant experience and whose role is not in the ineligible list of occupations will need to meet an income threshold of EUR 64,000, up from EUR 60,000 at present.
Sponsors will have to consider this increase when budgeting for 2020. It is important to note that Current Employment Permit holders remain unaffected. General Employment Permits and Intra-Company Transfer Employment Permits will not be affected.
In addition to the income threshold increases, there will also be changes to the Labour Market Needs Test process. As you may be aware, a Labor Market Test is required for some General Employment Permit and Contract for Services Employment Permit applications. The new changes mean that, if required, vacancies will now need to be advertised on the website hosted by the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection for 28 days, whereas at present it only needs to be online for 14 days. However, it should be noted that this only applies in a very limited number of cases and does not affect Critical Skills Employment Permits at all. As a result, the impact overall looks set to be minimal.
On top of the aforementioned changes that are due to go live in 2020, the Irish government has also implemented a number of changes that are effective immediately. The first of these changes pertains to passport validity. Employment permit applicants from non-EEA countries must now have six months’ validity remaining from the date of application, whereas previously a validity of at least 12 months was required. Visa nationals outside Ireland will still require a minimum 12-month passport validity at the entry visa application stage in order to enter the country. Halving the validity may increase the application processing times for some applicants and, as such, is a welcomed development.
Finally, another change that is effective immediately is an increase in the employment permit quotas in the meat and dairy industries. Under the General Employment Permit route, a higher quota now exists. This will assist employers looking to fill roles and address labour market needs in the meat and dairy farm industry, which have faced significant labor shortages in Ireland.
In recent months we have brought you news about changes to the the employment permit application system in Ireland, as well as news about proposed changes that the Irish government hopes to introduce in the coming months. This week’s news is a further indicator that the Irish government is keen to enhance and modernize the Irish employment permit system, quite possibly because of the looming general election on the horizon in Spring 2020.