The Department of Justice announced this week that the automatic immigration permission extensions which have been in place since March 2020 will not be extended beyond the 31st of May 2022.
Since March 2020, the Minister for Justice has automatically extended immigration permissions in Ireland on nine occasions in response to the Covid 19 pandemic. The extensions were hugely beneficial to persons during a time of worldwide turmoil and ensured that people remained lawfully in Ireland when they could not renew their immigration permissions due to registration office closures, Department of Justice backlogs, or where they could not travel to their home countries due to the closure of airports and country borders. The announcement this week confirming that the Minister for Justice will not renew the automatic extensions beyond the 31st of May 2022 is both disappointing and extremely concerning, leaving many non-EEA nationals in a state of limbo regarding their immigration permissions.
Whilst we appreciate that extensions of immigration permissions cannot continue indefinitely, we submit that the Department of Justice at this time are incorrect in not providing a further extension due to ongoing delays and problems in the processing of permission to remain applications and renewals. Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic there were already chronic delays in this area, and despite the introduction of an online system in Dublin for immigration registrations and other measures which have been implemented, the delays and issues continue. We are aware of many non-EEA nationals who have applied to the Department of Justice for new immigration permissions, renewals of immigration permissions and Irish Resident Permit registrations (IRP cards) who will not receive their first time or renewed permissions prior to the 31st of May 2022.
The Department of Justice in their announcement which can be read here, state as follows:
“Those covered by the extension are entitled to remain, reside and work in the State if their previously granted permission allowed them to do so.”
The immigration team at Sinnott Solicitors believe that this is not sufficient in circumstances where many employers are confused by the current situation and are unwilling to hire or retain employees despite the contents of the notice as they are concerned about their lawfulness to continue or take up employment. We submit that the most appropriate course of action for the Department of Justice would have simply been to renew the immigration permissions for a further period of time until they are up-to-date with renewing/issuing IRP cards and granting/renewing immigration permissions without a backlog. It is also important to point out that many persons who are non-EEA nationals are now unable to travel without a valid IRP card and the current situation now means that they cannot leave the State until their immigration permission is renewed which will no doubt be very problematic for many visa required non-EEA nationals who are seeking to travel for personal or employment purposes.
In relation to persons requiring an Employment Permit the notice states:
“If your employee is required to hold an employment permit, they must check with the employment permits division of the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment regarding the issuing of a new or renewed employment permit.”
Regarding non-EEA national students:
“International students who have arrived in the State and who wish to engage in employment should be able to demonstrate to employers that they have a valid landing stamp in their passport indicating they are required to register for a Stamp 2 permission on an approved scheme under the Interim List of Eligible Programmes (ILEP).”
Again, this is extremely confusing for employers many of whom are not comfortable with the situation. We have been contacted by a number of employer clients this week seeking reassurance that they can employ non-EEA national students under the above circumstances.
Another issue is that the termination of the automatic extensions will be problematic when calculating reckonable residence for Irish citizenship applications for persons awaiting permission to remain/IRP card renewals as there will now be a gap in reckonable residence in many cases. We have been contacted by a number of clients this week who are extremely concerned about this position.
Finally the notice states that:
“Prospective employees intending to take up employment under these arrangements should print this notice and present it if requested by their employer.”
Sinnott Solicitors will continue to monitor the situation and will provide further updates should it change at any time.
With offices in Dublin and Cork, Sinnott Solicitors have a specialist team of Immigration Solicitors and Immigration Consultants who are experts on Irish immigration matters. Should you have any queries with respect to any of the information contained in this article or any other immigration matters, do not hesitate to contact our immigration department in Cork or Dublin today on 014062862 or firstname.lastname@example.org.