Wednesday, 8 May 2019

Questions (553)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

553. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the steps she will take to reduce delays in view of the fact that applications for employment permits are taking up to 13 weeks to process and in further view of the impact these delays are having on the tourist industry; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18834/19]

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Written answers (Question to Business)

My officials in the Employment Permits section of my Department inform me that current processing times for employment permits are:

- 3 weeks for Trusted Partner applications (which made up 71% of all applications in 2018).

- 11 weeks for Standard applications (which made up 29% of applications in 2018).

The Department is continuing to take steps to improve these processing times. The main reason for the delays is the current high level of demand for employment permits, due to our economic success, growing labour market and reduced labour surplus.

During 2018 some 16,800 applications were received which was approx. 30% higher than 2017. This strong demand has continued into 2019 with a 15% increase in applications received to date (5,323 applications received at end of April).

During 2018 13,398 permits were granted representing an almost 20% increase over last year. Quarter 4 in 2018 saw the highest number of permits issued in any quarter in the previous 10 years. The high levels of permits being issued has continued into 2019 with a 42% increase in permits issued through Quarter 1 when compared to the same period in 2018. A total of 5,030 permits have issued (out of 5,846 applications processed) at end of April 2019 (which includes a number of permits that were applied for in 2018).

Through a combination of increased resources, staff working overtime and ICT and operational improvements, processing times are reducing with further improvements anticipated for standard applications in the coming weeks.

As well as the short-term measures introduced to date, my officials have sought tenders for a Business Processing Re-engineering study to be carried out to identify further efficiencies and identify possible new system requirements including exploring the development of a new IT system which will take advantage of all the new technologies available, including full digitisation. In parallel with this new development, the Department is determined to continue to reduce processing times and is engaging extensively with stakeholders to ensure that they understand the process and that they comply with the application requirements so that no unnecessary delays occur.