COVID-19: Employment Permit Contingency Plan Announced

31 March 2020

The Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation (DBEI) have announced their contingency plan in relation to employment permits in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. The plan includes a number of new measures, the aim of which is to ensure that the employment permit system will continue to operate in all scenarios. The new measures came into effect on Monday 30 March 2020.

The key point to note is that the DBEI have introduced greater flexibility in dealing with employment permit issues that arise for both employers and employees as a result of the pandemic.

Accordingly, the DBEI have made the following contingency arrangements:

  • The DBEI is aware that the State’s and global measures introduced to tackle the COVID-19 crisis and the challenges of travelling to the State may impact on the ability of new employees to take up employment. In these circumstances changes to applications will be facilitated, for example, applicants may wish to change the employment contract start date, to continue to hold the application in the processing queue for processing at a later date or withdraw the application.
  • The DBEI has to date been prioritising the processing of employment permit applications for medical personnel and these applications will continue to be prioritised. As of 30 March 2020, however, all applications for medical personnel in the processing queue have been actioned and employment permit staff have recommenced processing all other applications.
  • The Department of Justice and Equality have automatically extended immigration permissions due to expire between 20/03/20 and 20/05/20 by two months. If there are delays in processing employment permit renewal applications and Stamp 4 letters of support, employment permit holders may continue to live and work under the same terms and conditions of their existing permission.
  • The DBEI and the Department of Justice and Equality have agreed temporary arrangements which will allow for an electronic version of an employment permit to issue by email to the employer/employee/agents as proof of an employment permit having granted for the named employee. The electronic version of the employment permit will be accompanied by a letter from the DBEI, both of which should be presented to immigration officials, for verification purposes. When employment permit operations return to normal, the original and certified copies of the employment permit will be distributed by the DBEI to both employee and employer as per normal arrangements.
  • Applications for Stamp 4 letters of support may now be submitted by filling out the required form and e-mailing it to EPStamp4@dbei.gov.ie. Any decision on an application will be communicated to the applicant by way of e-mail. In the event that there are delays in processing Stamp 4 letters of support from the DBEI or processing Stamp 4 permissions from the Department of Justice and Equality, employment permit holders whose immigration permissions are due to expire between 20 March and 20 May 2020 may continue to live and work under the same terms and conditions as their existing permission for a further two months.
  • The DBEI will now accept online submissions for new and renewal applications for the Trusted Partner scheme without the requirement to provide a hard copy of the application form within 10 days.
  • The DBEI understands that individuals and companies may not be able to return the original or certified copy of the Employment Permit normally required within four weeks of the cessation of an employment. As an interim measure, the DBEI will not require the return of these permits at this time but will expect them to be returned upon the resumption of normal employment permit operations.
  • For the duration of this national emergency, employees who are employment permit holders can work remotely from home in Ireland once the employer notifies the DBEI. The DBEI do not require details of each employee. Instead, they require a once off notification from the employer that employees are now working remotely.
  • Where employment permit holders are working remotely from outside the State, frequent absences or an extended absence which constitute part of an employment permit holder’s employment are not considered grounds for revocation of the permit, an employment permit holder must however work at least 183 days in a full calendar year in the State to be considered employed in the State (this is in line with the Revenue Commissioner’s requirements for tax residence).

Our immigration team is continuing to monitor the situation for further updates and for further information please contact David Cantrell, Partner or another member of the Immigration Group at Eugene F Collins.

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