Immigration Update: Government eases restrictions on non-EEA workers in the construction and sports industries


Authors: Cian Beecher, Declan MacQuillan and Niamh Fennelly.

Click here to view the briefing in PDF format.

The Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation last week announced changes to the employment permit regime for people from outside the European Economic Area (the “EEA”) working in the construction and sports industries.

In order to work in Ireland, a non-EEA National must hold a valid Employment Permit, unless they are exempted. The most common permits are the General Employment Permit and the Critical Skills Employment Permit.

All occupations are eligible for a General Employment Permit, unless excluded under the list of Ineligible Categories of Employment for Employment Permits. With limited exceptions, the minimum annual remuneration required in order to be eligible for a General Employment Permit is €30,000.

The Critical Skills Employment Permit is designed to attract-highly skilled people into the labour market with the aim of encouraging them to take up permanent residence in the State. Eligible occupations under this type of permit are deemed to be critically important to growing the economy, are highly demanded and highly skilled, and in significant shortage of supply in the Irish labour market. Depending on the occupation in respect of which the permit is applied for, the minimum annual remuneration is either €30,000 (for strategically important occupations) or €60,000. The prospective employee must also have secured an offer of employment for a minimum period of two years.

The changes announced, which come into effect on 22 April 2019, are aimed at easing labour shortages in both industries.

As preparations continue for Brexit, the measures also include the creation of up to 300 work permits for customs control workers.

The measures:

  1. add certain occupations to the Critical Skills List of Occupations, meaning that they may qualify for a Critical Skills Employment Permit;
  2. remove certain occupations from the Ineligible List of Occupations, meaning that they may qualify for a General Employment Permit; and
  3. remove certain occupations from the Ineligible List of Occupations by Quota, meaning that they may qualify for a General Employment Permit, subject to the application of a quota.

From 22 April 2019, the following occupations will become eligible for the following permits:

Critical Skills Employment PermitGeneral Employment PermitGeneral Employment Permit
(subject to a quota)
Civil EngineersSheet Metal WorkersTransport and Distribution Clerks and Assistants (Freight Forwarders; Cargo & Freight Agents; Brokerage Clerks) – subject to a quota of 300
Quantity SurveyorsWeldersPlasterers – subject to a quota of 250
Construction Project ManagersPipefittersBricklayers – subject to a quota of 250
Mechanical Engineers with BIM capabilitiesAir-Conditioning & Refrigeration Engineers
Electrical Engineers with BIM capabilitiesShuttering Carpenters
High Performance Directors and Coaches for high-level sports organisationsGlaziers, Window Fabricators and Fitters
Scaffolders, Stagers and Riggers
Crane Drivers
Secondary School Career Guidance Teachers

For further information on immigration law or employment permits, please contact any member of the Employment group or your usual Arthur Cox contact.

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