Stephen Kirwan, Partner and Head of Immigration and International Law Team in KOD Lyons, explores some of the key changes to Ireland’s employment permit system.
Ireland Work Permit Requirements; Understanding Recent Changes
Ireland’s employment landscape is undergoing a significant transformation with recent extensive changes to the employment permit system being announced by the Department of Enterprise Trade and Employment on 20th December 2023.
These adjustments, aimed at fostering a more dynamic and inclusive workforce, have had significant implications for both employers and employees alike.
In this short blog post, we’ll explore the key modifications to Ireland’s work permit requirements and their potential impact on businesses and individuals.
Roadmap for Incremental Increase in Salary Requirements
A new plan to gradually raise the salary thresholds for most employment permits has been introduced. This includes different categories such as General, Meat Processing/Horticulture, Home Care/Healthcare Assistant, Graduate Positions, and more, with specific salary increases set for the years 2024 to 2026.
Below is a breakdown of these thresholds in more detail.
|Current Thresholds €
|Jan 24 €
|Jan 25 €
|July 25 €
|Jan 26 €
|Home Care/Healthcare Assistant
|Graduate Positions and Language Skills Specialists
|Critical Skills with Degree
|Critical Skills Without a Degree
|Contract for Services
Points to Note
Notably, the minimum salary requirement for a critical skills employment permit will rise to €44,000 if the applicant is required to hold a third-level degree relevant to the occupation. However, the higher salary threshold of €64,000 for a critical skills employment permit will remain unchanged.
How Does This Affect Employers?
This will clearly influence employers who have already made financial provision for the hiring of employees in 2024. There is also a significant lack of clarity around whether there are any transitional arrangements for employees who are currently going through either the general or critical skills application process, those on existing permissions or for those going through the renewal process. It has also not been made clear if the new rates will be applicable to those who are due to apply for a renewal of their permissions in 2024 or 2025.
How Does this Affect Employees?
On the other hand, it is undoubtedly welcome news for employees facing the ongoing cost-of-living crisis, as the raised minimum salary thresholds indicate a stronger commitment to their financial wellbeing and protection.
As previously those in receipt of a general work permit, still do not qualify for automatic family reunification with their immediate family members. For those in categories where lower rates of pay are permitted (such as healthcare assistants, meat processors, horticultural workers and meat de-borners) this often proved problematic given that they often did not meet the minimum financial thresholds required to qualify for family reunification in line with the relevant governing guidelines.
The indicated changes now more closely align to the indicated salary expectations envisaged by these thresholds and are surely very welcome for that cohort of employees who are potentially affected.
Expansion of Eligible Occupations List
To meet the evolving needs of the Irish job market, the list of eligible occupations for employment permits has been expanded. This expansion reflects a proactive approach to addressing skill shortages in a number of specific sectors.
Employers now have a broader pool of qualified candidates to choose from, fostering innovation and growth in various industries.
Removal of from Ineligible List
The following 32 occupations are now considered to be eligible for general employment permits subject to the other usual requirements being met:
- Residential Day and Domiciliary Case Managers – in Disability Services
- Play Therapist – in Disability Services
- Genetic Counsellor
- Social Care Worker
- Family Support Workers – in Disability Services
- Project Offices, Disability
- Support Worker (social, community, public and charity)
- Guide Dog Mobility Instructor for the Visually Impaired
- Autism Assistance Dog Instructors
- Pig Managers
- Smiths and forge workers
- Moulders, core makers and die casters
- Metal plate workers and riveters
- Car mechanic, Motor mechanic, Auto electrician, Motor vehicle technician
- HGV mechanic
- Vehicle body builders and repairers/Body shop panel beaters
- Electrician, electrical contractor, electrical engineer,
- Vehicle paint technician
- Skilled metal, electrical and electronic trades supervisors
- Upholstery and furniture operatives
- Furniture makers and other craft woodworkers
- Senior Care Workers – in Disability Services
- Textile Process Operatives
- Wood Machine Operatives
- Saw Doctor/Wood Machine Mechanic
- Armature Rewinder
- Pig Farm Assistants
- Speciality Forestry Harvesting Technician
Expansion of Critical Skills Occupations List
A critical component of the revised work permit requirements in Ireland is the introduction of an expanded Critical Skills Occupations List to now include the following 11 roles:
- Professional Forester
- Resource modelling, earth observation and data analyst
- Operational Forecaster
- Chemical Engineer
- Project Engineer
- BIM Manager
- Optometrist (Ophthalmic Optician)
- Commercial Manager
- BIM Coordinator/Technician
Changes to Quotas for Certain General Employment Permit Categories
The Minister has also sought to extend the quota of general employment permits which can be granted in certain specific categories namely:
- 1,000 for meat processing operatives
- 350 for butcher/deboners
- 350 for dairy farm assistants
- 1,000 horticultural workers
Final Thoughts on the Changes of Ireland’s Work Permit Requirements
The recent changes to Ireland’s employment permit system signify a commitment to creating a more agile and inclusive job market. Businesses can take advantage of the expanded pool of eligible occupations to attract top-tier talent.
As the country positions itself as a hub for innovation and growth, these modifications to the employment permit system play a pivotal role in shaping its future workforce.
As a counterpoint however there is still significant confusion about whether or not transitional measures will be introduced to assist a number of key groups, those who have ongoing applications or those who are already in receipt of a work permit.
Similarly the immediate introduction of certain changes particularly to minimum remuneration will undoubtedly have an adverse effect on many businesses who are already struggling with the increased cost of doing business.
When it comes to navigating the intricacies of Irish immigration and work permit requirements,, KOD Lyons stands as a beacon of expertise and support. Their dedicated Immigration and International Law team boasts in-depth knowledge of the ever-evolving landscape, offering invaluable guidance to individuals and families seeking residence, visas, or asylum.
Whether you’re a high-skilled professional seeking a Critical Skills Employment Permit or a family yearning for reunification, KOD Lyons empowers you with the legal firepower to navigate the complexities of Irish immigration with confidence.
Should you have any questions or queries regarding the recent changes in Ireland’s work permit requirements, do not hesitate to contact Stephen Kirwan of this office at email@example.com or at 01-6790780.
See also: General Work Permit Case Study Review | Updated Advisory Note: Employment Permits Occupation List | International Protection in Ireland: A Short Guide to the Asylum Process