The Department Of Business Enterprise & Innovation (DBEI) yesterday published their Contingency Arrangements for the continued processing of Employment Permits for non-EEA nationals during the COVID-19 crisis.

 

The main points of the Contingency arrangements are as follows:

  • Original Employment Permits – Electronic copies of employment permits will temporarily be issued via email to the authorised recipient along with a letter from the DBEI instead of the hard copy original and certified copy employment permit. This is a temporary measure only and when normal processing resumes the original and certified copy will be issued to the employee and employer. 
  • Stamp 4 Letters of Support – Applications for Stamp 4 Letters of Support can be submitted electronically by completing the application form and emailing to EPStamp4@dbei.gov.ie along with the supporting documentation. Any paper applications submitted in the previous days can also now be emailed. In the event of a delay in the processing of the application, permit holders whose permission to reside in the State expires between 20 March 2020 and 20 May 2020 can continue to reside and work according to their existing immigration permission for a further two months.
  • Applications for Review of Employment Permit refusals – Applications for Review can be submitted electronically by completing the application form and emailing to EPReviews@dbei.gov.ie along with the supporting documentation.
  • Renewal of Employment Permits – Applications can be submitted up to four months before the expiry date of the permit and one month after. Individuals are permitted to work and reside in the State whilst the application is being processed, even where the original permit has expired.
  • Trusted Partner Applications – Can be submitted online with the requirement to submit the hard copy application form within 10 days being temporarily suspended.
  • Employment Permit Applications which are currently pending – Due to uncertainty surrounding travel and other  restrictions at present, the DBEI have confirmed that they can pause the processing of applications and allow changes to start dates where a permit has not yet been processed. Changes can be made up until the point of processing the application, so it is important for applicants to keep in touch with DBEI in this regard. A full refund will be provided in circumstances where an application has to be withdrawn due to the COVID-19 crisis.
  • Contact with the Employment Permit Section – In circumstances where the physical office is closed, post is not being dealt with so contact should be made via email to employmentpermits@dbei.gov.ie.
  • Remote work from home – Employment permit holders are permitted to work from home during the COVID-19 crisis however employers in this circumstance should notify the DBEI if this arrangement is in place. Only the name of the employer is required.
  • Working from outside of the State – This will not affect an employment permit provided that the employee works for at least 183 days in the State (the Irish State being the 26 counties of the Republic of Ireland).
  • Changes to Terms and Conditions of Employment –Substantial changes such as remuneration and contract conditions should be notified to the DBEI. Due to the COVID-19 situation there may be cases where remuneration has been reduced and the DBEI confirm that they will flexible when considering such changes in light of the current situation. It is important that any such relevant changes are notified to the DBEI in circumstances where failure to do so will constitute a breach of the terms of the permit and may result in significant difficulties for employees at the time of renewal or applying for the Stamp 4 letters of support. 
  • Temporary Lay Offs – The DBEI should be notified of temporary lay-offs and reduced working hours in order to note it on the relevant employee’s file.  This is again particularly important to ensure compliance with the terms of a permit and to avoid problems at renewal stage.
  • Redundancy – Employees who are made redundant must submit the Redundancy form to the DBEI within four weeks of the date of redundancy. Once this is done the individual is permitted to remain in the State for up to six months in order to seek employment and apply for a new employment permit.

 

The full text of the contingency plan can be found at https://dbei.gov.ie/en/Publications/Publication-files/COVID-19-Employment-Permits-System-Contingency-Arrangements.pdf

 

Sinnott Solicitors analysis

Sinnott Solicitors have received numerous queries from worried employers and employees in recent weeks with respect to employment permit applications, logistics for issuing permits, implications regarding reduced working hours, remuneration etc so the publication of the DBEI contingency provides clarity on many matters. 

The electronic issuing of permits as well as the move by the DBEI to accept documentation such as review applications electronically is greatly welcomed in circumstances where many offices and individuals are working remotely at present without access to physical post and documentation. It would be welcomed if the Immigration Delivery Service would also temporarily move to electronic communications like their colleagues in the DBEI and we would hope that such measures will be introduced to keep the Irish immigration system functioning and ensure access to justice and fair procedures to all applicants.

 

Sinnott Solicitors who are a Government approved essential service continue to operate throughout the current COVID-19 crisis. Should you have any queries on your own immigration status or situation do not hesitate to contact our Immigration Department today on 0035314062862, or info@sinnott.ie. Appointments are available via Telephone of Video conference from 8am to 5pm Monday to Friday.