On the 18th of December 2019 Minister Heather Humphreys, Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, announced some significant and important changes to the employment permit system which will allow further non-EEA nationals to apply for employment permits in Ireland.  

The changes which will come into effect from 1 January 2020 are as follows:

  1. All chef grades will be eligible to apply for an employment permit and there will no longer be a quota capping the number of employment permits awarded to chefs.  
  2. All nurses may now apply for a critical skills employment permit (some nurses have been unable to apply for a critical skills permit to date in circumstances where they may not have the relevant degree but would have a diploma).
  3. Most professional occupations in the construction sector will now qualify for a critical skills employment permit.  
  4. Construction occupations such as foremen, architectural technician, construction safety officer, safety manager, building, civil and structural engineering technicians, draughtspersons, will now be eligible to apply for a general employment permit. 
  5. The quota for HGV drivers is increased by 200. 
  6.  An additional quota of 1000 General Employment Permits for the Meat Processing sector will be introduced

Sinnott Solicitors greatly welcome these changes particularly for the hospitality industry in circumstances where we are contacted by individuals on a weekly basis seeking to apply for employment permits to work as a chef in Ireland, however have been precluded from doing so due to the restrictions attached to certain chef grades,  in addition to the quota which was placed on the number of employment permits which could be issued to chefs which this year was capped at 610. We have witnessed first-hand the significant shortage in this area and the struggle which employers have been experiencing in trying to fill these positions. 

In addition, the previous restrictions on nurses where only those with a level 7 degree could apply for a Critical Skills Employment Permit, often meant that some nurses who did not have a level 7 degree had to live in Ireland without their family members for at least one year in circumstances where they had been granted a General Employment Permit, however were unable to bring their family to Ireland until they had completed one year of working on this permit.  Critical Skills Permit holders are eligible for immediate family reunification. Again we have many clients who have been affected by this in the past and are aware of clients who decided not to come to Ireland to take up their employment due to the family reunification restriction, so we are delighted that all nurses are now eligible to be granted a Critical Skills Employment permit.  

There are many non-EEA nationals working in Ireland in the nursing profession and the contribution which they have and continue to make to Irish society is outstanding. We are happy to see that this is being recognised with all nurses now being eligible to apply for a Critical Skills Permit and expect that it will attract further non-EEA national nurses to seek employment in Ireland in the future.

The construction industry has been significantly struggling to meet the supply necessary to satisfy the housing needs of the country and the continued labour shortage in certain roles has further impeded the problems which the construction industry have been dealing with to date. The addition of certain roles in the construction industry to the Critical Skills list in addition to the changes to the Ineligible Category of Employment List is greatly welcomed to ensure the continued success and development of our construction industry.

In general this announcement is greatly welcomed by employers and employees alike and it is encouraging to see the continued steps which the Department of Business Enterprise and Innovation are taking to improve our employment permit system in Ireland, thereby maximising the benefits of economic migration to Ireland and improving our economy as a result.

The Immigration Department of Sinnott Solicitors have extensive experience in dealing with all categories of Employment Permit Applications and related immigration permissions. If you have any queries on the employment permit process or any matters raised in this article, do not hesitate to contact our immigration team today on +35314062862 or info@sinnott.ie.