According to INIS (Irish Naturalization and Immigration Service), there are an estimated 250000 immigration applications every year. And this includes residence permissions, visas applications, non-EEA nationals’ registrations, citizenship, and international protection. Additionally, it is expected that over 16 million passengers will be migrated by INIS through Dublin Airport. Moreover, the labor market in Ireland has significantly strengthened over the last few years, which is as a result of strong job growth and an improving economy.
In order to make sure that the government continues to respond effectively to customer needs and the changing labor market, it came up with the INIS Service Improvement Plan which clearly states a number of recommendations that need to be addressed in the next two years. What’s more, with the hope of improving the immigration service in Ireland, the government has put forward specific strategies that they will adopt so as to tackle the inefficiencies in the delivery of public service. As the improvement plan seeks to promote the principle of tailoring immigration services based on the customer needs, the developments were pretty much welcomed in the country.
So, the government identified the main pillars that will help in shaping the focus areas that will need improvement. The pillars include:
The government is committed to ensuring that these pillars have been fulfilled, and to ensure that happens, it has committed to undertake the following actions:
Now, after analyzing the improvement plan report, it is clear that it aims to encourage a renewed focus on matters relating to immigration and also to achieve greater cooperation among all the relevant government agencies. The improved processes hope to meet customers’ demands and also are also seen as the key in the context of increasing immigration into Ireland. Moreover, the level of flexibility and foresight from the naturalization and immigration department of Ireland is, for sure, unprecedented and incredibly progressive, with the implementation of key milestone changes – such as the abolition of re-entry visas – already in progress.
From 1st January 2020, there will be several changes that will be introduced to the salary thresholds for critical skills work permits as well as Labor Market Needs Test for contracts of Service Employment Permits and General Employment Permits. So, here are the changes to the salary requirements for the Critical Skills Permits:
So, generally, these permits are separated into two classes:
Now, starting January 1st, 2020, the following changes will be applicable to the above salary thresholds:
The applications made by 31st December 2019 will be accepted pursuant to the previous thresholds, while those made from 1st January will follow the new salary requirements, failure to which will lead to their disapproval. So, it is important that the employers budget accordingly for the above requirements, and especially if they are planning to hire non-EEA citizens requiring a Critical Skills Permit. Note: there will be no exceptions, these changes must be followed if you want to work in Ireland.
General Employment Permits as well as contracts for services employment permits
Now, subject to a few limited exceptions, applications for these permits are subject to the Labor Markets Needs Test. What this means is that the employer is expected to advertise the position with the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection Employment Services or EURES network for a minimum period of two weeks. This should be done in a national newspaper for a period not less than three days and also in a job website or local newspaper for 3 days. What’s more, from January 1st, all employers must advertise the job position with the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection Employment Services/EURES network for a period not less than 4 weeks (28 days). Note: applications that were submitted on or before 31st December 2019 will be subjected to the previous 14-day advertisement period.
Employers should adhere to and be mindful of the above requirements, especially since it will add two more weeks to what already is a lengthy application process. And anybody who wants to apply on any of the above roles, just know that you will be subjected to the new requirements, but if you submitted your application on or before 31st December 2019, your application will be subjected to the previous requirements. One good thing that comes with all these is that advertising a job position with the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection Employment Services/EURES network is still free, which means that the additional time for advertising will not in any way increase the cost for the employers. Also, the local and national newspaper/job website advertising hasn’t changed, and so, the employers have to cater for the cost required to advertise through them.
Further changes to the work permit system
On November 1st, 2019, Irish Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, after thorough consultations with the relevant agencies, published the general structure of the Employment Permits bill. This development was much welcomed, especially given that immigration practitioners had been eager to see it and wanted it published. The reason being, the previous employment permit system was quite inflexible, outdated and comprised a number of acts and schedules that proved to be extremely difficult to adhere to. But when the new bill was introduced, it hoped to amalgamate the previous legislation so as to be able to introduce the new changes to the permit system. Basically, the new employment permit system brings the following changes:
Other changes included the following:
In general, these changes are highly welcomed by employees and employers, as they are expected to improve the employment permit system in Ireland, thereby increasing the benefits of economic migration to the country, which in turn boosts the economy.
Do you have an amazing and innovative business idea that you are looking to try out and you have fancied Ireland to be the best place to set it up? If yes, then you might want to consider taking a business immigration program in Ireland. There are two immigration programs for business persons seeking to invest in the country. The first one is the Immigrant Investor Programme (IIP), which is Ireland’s investor visa. The second program is the Start-up Entrepreneur Programme (STEP), which is an entrepreneurial visa in the country. Nationals from non-EU/EEA countries are the only ones required to have these visas for them to operate a business in Ireland, as EU/EEA citizens have the freedom to go into the country to pursue their legitimate goals without any visas. Let’s take a look at the visa programs in detail:
Immigrant Investor Visa (IIP)
The following are the eligibility factors for this particular visa:
Note this, the investor visa is not a citizenship-by-investment program. But those investors who are given this visa are eligible to apply for citizenship by naturalization under the same conditions and in the same way as other non-Irish citizens. Also, the government of Ireland doesn’t have any responsibility in the investment’s performance. The government considers investments to be a private matter between the concerned parties, and that it’s the investors’ responsibility, just like in any business, to assess their ventures’ potential success. Approval of an IIP application doesn’t, in any case, signify the endorsement of that particular project. It only signifies approval of the investor, and that the said investment satisfies all the requirements of an immigrant investor program.
Foreign investors should also note that in no way will a loan provided to the applicant for the purpose of IIP application be deemed as an appropriate source of funding. So, know that when applying for an IIP, a comprehensive examination is carried so as to figure out the source of the proposed resources, and you will also require the proper supporting documents which attest to the source of your funds.
The Start-up Entrepreneur Programme (STEP)
The Irish government went ahead to offer an entrepreneurial visa, in an attempt to tap into the entrepreneurial potential among the migrants. This program allows non- EU/EEA citizens with a minimum investment amount of 50000 euros and has an innovative business idea to come into the country and set up a business. And when there is more than one principle and are all involved in opening the same business, then the second and subsequent entrepreneurs are required to have a minimum of 30000 euros per principle as their investment funds.
For a start-up venture to be eligible, it must meet the following requirements:
For foreign entrepreneurs who are attending innovation boot-camps or incubators in Ireland, a 12-month immigration permission is granted to them. During this time, the entrepreneurs are able to prepare a STEP application and thus provide migrant entrepreneurs with an identifiable route to move from being a start-up into the realization phase of their business. What’s more, the 12 month period is also granted to non-EEA students who were pursuing advanced STEM – Science, Technology, Engineering as well as mathematics – degrees in the country and want to prepare a STEP application. The STEP program doesn’t apply to catering, retail, personal services or any other business of that sort. The reason being, these types of businesses are known to have no job creation targets, especially given the fact that they may take some time before they are off the ground.
As a foreign investor, you definitely will need information on a number of issues, such as legal and tax requirements. So, visit as many sites as possible and ensure that you gather as much information as you possibly can on the Irish legal structure and tax requirements.
NON-EEA NATIONALS’ RESIDENCE RIGHTS IN IRELAND
If you are not from the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland, there are a number of residence rights that you must fulfill for you to live in Ireland. These residence rights are granted by the Department of Justice and Equality in Ireland, where they put a special stamp on your passport. This stamp is commonly known as a residence stamp. If the permission to remain is granted, then your passport is endorsed with a certificate of registration. And it’s only after this - plus other determining circumstances governing your presence in Ireland – that your family will be able to join you in the country.
So, the following are the rules that must be met for you to be allowed to live in Ireland:
Documentation – as a non-EEA national who desires to live in Ireland, there are some key pieces of documentation that you will have to produce. They include
Your documentation will be examined by an immigration officer at the point of entry to Ireland. The officer might ask you if you have funds to support yourself and your family (if any), or at least how you plan to support yourself during your stay in the country. Also, you might be asked a few other questions regarding your application. So, on this matter, the onus rests with you to answer every question in a manner that satisfies the immigration officer. You will also need to prove the authenticity of your credentials to the immigration office.
The requirement to prove your identity – on arrival to Ireland, non-EEA nationals must produce their passport or an equivalent identity document at the immigration office. Also, non-EEA nationals already in the country should provide a registration certificate or any other document on demand to the Garda, immigration officer or even the minister. Only persons of 16 years of age, and not born in Ireland, are exempted from this requirement. As for all non-EEA nationals born in Ireland, they are required to produce identity documents to the relevant authorities.
Certificate of registration – after the immigration officer approves everything, he/she will then endorse your passport with the appropriate stamp. And if your proposed stay exceeds 3 months, you will need to register with your local immigration office for a certificate of registration – also known as an Irish Residence Permit (IRP). Besides showing the type of residence you hold, this permit – based on your nationality and legal status – can function as a residence document or a residence card. Please note that the permit is not an identity document: as it just a certificate required by the law in Ireland.
Family members – your right to bring family members to Ireland totally depends on the rules governing your presence in the country. For instance, if you hold a General Employment Permit, you will be able to bring your family into the country only after working in Ireland, legally, for about a year. Also, you will have to prove to the immigration officer that you will be able to support your family without any recourse to public resources. In practice, it means that you have the ability to support each and every member of your family without qualifying for Family Income Supplement.
Visitors who are not allowed to work – non-EEA nationals coming to Ireland as a tourist, a visitor, the civil dependant or partner, or even a spouse to an employment permit holder, or coming to receive medical attention in the country, your passport will be endorsed with a stamp 3. However, a spouse to a Critical Skills Employment Permit holder can have his/her passports endorsed with a Stamp number 1, allowing you to work. With stamp number 3 on your passport, you are not entitled to engage in any profession, business or work while in the country, and the period the stamp stays valid depends on your circumstances.
Persons who are allowed to work – all non-EEA nationals who intend to work in Ireland must have an employment permit. There are some non-EEA students who can do casual work. What’s more, persons with stamp number 4 on their passports don’t need any permission for them to work in the country.
EU treaty rights – for non-EEA family members who are granted permission to remain in the country under EU Treaty Rights, when they apply with the immigration office, the card they will then receive does have the wording ‘4 EU FAM.’ As a holder of this card, you will be exempted from visa applications, and you won’t need business permission or employment permit for you to work.
Employment permit for 5 years – if you’ve been legally working in Ireland for 5 consecutive years, then you will no longer require a permit for you to work. All you can do is to apply with your local immigration officer, and you will be issued with stamp 4 permission for a period of one year. You will be able to renew this permission annually, and you will be able to take up any job you want.
Other categories that are eligible – even if you are a non-EEA national, but you are in Ireland as a civil dependant or partner, or as the spouse of an Irish, a Swiss, or an EEA national, you will get a stamp 4, which will allow you to work or engage in any business without the need of an employment or a business permit. You are also eligible for a stamp 4 if you fall under the following categories: programmers or convention refugees; or former asylum seekers who have been granted permission to remain.
Long-term residence rights – if you have legally remained in Ireland for 5 years or more, you can acquire long term residence rights. After this period, you will still be required to apply for a certificate of registration but you won’t need a business or employment permit to work.
We can all agree that Ireland is a fantastic place to visit or live. The country has seen an increase in the number of immigrants in recent years. The reasons for this increase are varied and the processes as well. So, let’s take a look at the top 5 ways to legally immigrate to Ireland: