Written Answers. - Work Permits.

Liam Aylward

Question:

40 Mr. Aylward asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if an application for work permits by persons (details supplied) in County Kilkenny can be processed as quickly as possible in view of their serious staffing situation. [10725/02]

Applications for work permits in respect of the persons concerned were received on 5 March 2002. It is the policy of the Department to process applications for work permits strictly in the order in which they are received. Assuming the applications are completed correctly and are otherwise in order, processing time will take approximately ten weeks from the date of receipt of the applications.

The processing time for work permits is directly related to the number of work permit applications received. The number of applications increased from an average of more than 350 per week in 2000 to more than 825 per week last year. The level of applications climbed during the year and in December alone, an unprecedented 5,690 applications were received. New procedures were introduced with effect from 2 January 2002 and this has resulted, at least temporarily, in a reduction in the number of applications received.
While the staff numbers in the work permit section was increased by 50% last year in an effort to reduce processing time, the very large increase in applications meant the waiting period could not be reduced. Nevertheless, the staff in the section issued 36,436 permits in 2001, compared with 18,000 in the year 2000.
Question No. 41 answered with Question No. 37.