With Ireland experiencing a booming economy, it is inevitable that the demands for employment permits would also increase. Applications for employment permits were probably at an all time high towards the end of 2018 with most standard employment permits taking up to 16 weeks to be processed. Fortunately, this time frame has improved with most standard employment permits now being processed within 11 weeks. 

A further welcomed development with employment permits was the DBEI's recent announcement to expand the Highly Skilled Occupations List to include the following roles from 22 April 2019: 

  • Civil Engineers
  • Quantity Surveyors
  • Construction Project Managers
  • Mechanical and Electrical Engineers with BIM expertise
  • High Performance Directors and Coaches for high-level sports organisations (where employment as a High Performance Director or Coach is in a national or high profile sports organisations engaging in international competition).

Changes have also been made to the Ineligible Occupations List for employment permits, with the following roles now being eligible for a general employment permit: 

  • Sheet metal workers
  • Welding trades
  • Pipefitters
  • Air-Conditioning & Refrigeration Engineers
  • Shuttering Carpenters
  • Glaziers, window fabricators & fitters
  • Scaffolders, stagers & riggers
  • Crane drivers
  • Transport and Distribution Clerks and Assistants (Freight Forwarders; Cargo & Freight Agents; Brokerage Clerks) subject to a quota of 300
  • Plasterers subject to a quota of 250; and 
  • Bricklayers subject to a quota of 250

In order for an individual to apply for a general employment permit in relation to one of the above roles, the sponsoring employer would first have to satisfy the Labour Market Needs Test. This means that the earliest possible date an application for a general employment permit could be made under one of these new approved occupations is 6 May 2019. 

Separately, from 13 May 2019 Ireland's re-entry visa system will be abolished. Under the current system any visa required national who is living in Ireland had to apply for a re-entry visa in order for him/her to be able to travel to and from Ireland. The application for a re-entry visa could only be done when the person was in the country and could take a number of weeks to obtain. 

The announcement to abolish this requirement is long over due and will hopefully assist by reducing demands on INIS. The Department of Justice and Equality has confirmed that the introduction of the new IRP (Irish Residence Permit) card has helped improve security, eliminating the need for a re-entry visa so that people can move more freely without compromising the country's safety and security of its current immigration system.