Obtaining Work Permits & Processing Times

February 25, 2022

Due to an increase in the amount of applications for work permits year on year, processing times went from 1,000 applicants in the queue in April 2021 with an average processing time of three weeks (TP) and 5 weeks (Std), respectively, to 10,500 applications in the queue in December 2021. There are been further delays due to the HSE cyber-attack, as healthcare applications were prioritised and had to be manually entered.

There are a number of good practices to follow to assist employers with common queries to have their permits and renewals processed with as little difficulty as possible.

Quality of applications:
It is essential that employers consult and adhere to the checklists provided by the Department regarding the completion of applications. Where the rules are not followed, the time to process the permit is extended and the permit is usually rejected given the primary legislation that cannot be ignored. Deviations from the checklist are not going to be overturned on appeal.

Dedicated checklists can be found for general and Critical Skills permits and specific occupations also here. Where there is urgency or inexperience, it can be useful to get advice or assistance from reputable agents who are familiar with the process.

Indication of SOC codes:
Where possible it would be useful if employers could indicate what SOC code is attached to the position they are applying for. Individual processors will analyse and assess but this would speed up the process particularly given the language used in various job profiles. Please try to avoid technical jargon as much as possible in Role Descriptions. 

General Employment Permit renewals:  
The main type of employment permit used by the State to attract 3rd country nationals for occupations that are experiencing a labour or skills shortage is the general employment permit. It allows for a broader range of occupations than the Highly Skilled Eligible Occupations List. However, there are several occupations that are ineligible and will not qualify under this type of permit. You can view the Ineligible Categories of Employment List here. A labour market test is required for this permit type.

Once an application is sent in a timely manner, an employee can continue to work while it is being processed (once the applicant is with the same employer). For more details: General Employment Permit - DETE (enterprise.gov.ie) – section on Renewals. 

If the applicant has a separate requirement for immigration permission (which Justice have been extending throughout Covid-19) and that extension is due to run out, then this may be an issue and should be flagged with Department.

Details of temporary extension of immigration permissions by Department of Justice:  Latest employment permits updates and developments - DETE (enterprise.gov.ie)

Critical Skills Permits:
The critical skills employment permit is designed to attract highly skilled people into the Irish labour market and aims to encourage them to take up permanent residence in the State. This permit is only valid in relation to roles that are listed on the Highly Skilled Eligible Occupations List which you can view here. There is no need to conduct a labour market test for these employment permit types. 

Once a permit holder completes a full term of the Critical Skills permit, contact Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment to get support letter for Stamp 4 permission to present to Department of Justice to enable permanent right to reside and work in Ireland. Request for Support Letter for Critical Skills Employment Permit Holders seeking a 'Stamp 4' - DETE (enterprise.gov.ie)

Due to Covid-19, some permit holders did not come to Ireland at the start of the term and so will not complete a full term as required. In this case an application for a new Critical Skills Permit (as this type of permit cannot be renewed) should be made as early as possible so that they do not run out of time while it is being processed. An email should be sent with application number; name; details and DETE will process it two weeks before it expires.