In November 2018, Shannon Chamber wrote to all local representatives in Co Clare highlighting the issues companies face when seeking to process residency and employment permits and other documentation for foreign nationals.
Concerned by the fact that serious delays in the processing of employment permits (16-18 weeks for companies without Trust Partner status and 6 weeks for those with it) are/will impact Irish companies seeking to readily hire suitably qualified, highly skilled people from other countries. Shannon Chamber sought clarification on the matter.
We also sought clarification on why delays are occurring in obtaining residency permits.
These delays are occurring despite the best efforts of staff in the Departments of Business, Enterprise & Innovation (DBEI) and the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) and our ask was for increased resources to be allocated to these crucial services so that the backlogs can be eliminated and major gaps in Ireland’s drive to grow its industrial base and future economic development are bridged.
Our requests were brought to the Government’s attention (Minister for Justice & Equality, Charles Flanagan TD) by Minister Pat Breen and the issue was discussed with IDA Ireland CEO, Martin Shanahan, during his visit to Dromoland in September 2018.
The current update is:
- Budget 2019 has included an allocation of €43.7m to staffing in INIS for 2019 (an increase from €39.5 in 2018). This increased investment demonstrates the Government’s commitment to a significant range of reforms which will improve the efficiency of the system while also improving the service provided to customers.
- Difficulties with booking registration appointments was brought to the Department’s attention in September 2018. Some of these difficulties had arisen because third-party agents had been able to secure multiple appointments thorough the use of automatic software. A set of software fixes was introduced in mid-September to prevent this abuse of the system; this software update has been successful in preventing the block booking of appointments by third-party agents. The system is being regularly monitored in this regard.
- A number of measures were also taken to increase the capacity of the office, including the assignment of additional staff to the Registration office, extended office hours and weekend opening.
- A new booking system will be introduced this year. This should alleviate the challenges around securing an appointment to apply for or renew Irish Residence Permit cards (IRP) for Dublin-based employees.
- Both the Department and IDA Ireland have advised that the current challenges facing companies in acquiring employment permits are due, in part, to the high volume of employment permit applications being made.
- The Trusted Partner initiative, introduced by the DBEI, is designed to ease the administrative burden on employers in expansion mode and to remove the requirement that they replicate the same employer information in respect of each employment permit application made for grant or renewal.
- The employment permits section of DBEI has been working hard on reducing the employment permit processing times and expects to return to normal processing times in the next few months. Current processing times are back to 5 weeks for Trusted Partner applications and 11 weeks for non-Trusted Partner applications.
- Although these waiting times compare favourably internationally, they are below the optimal target of 2 weeks (Trusted Partner) and 4 weeks (non-Trusted Partner) for standard applications. The Department will continue to work to improve processing times through a combination of additional resources and a more streamlined approach and are confident of further reductions in the time required for permits to be issued in 2019.
Shannon Chamber will continue to monitor the situation on behalf of its members.