It is an indicator of our economic and job creation success that the Employment Permits Section of my Department is experiencing high levels of demand for employment permits. This has led to some delays in processing applications.
In order to reduce processing times, the Employment Permits section has introduced a number of operational changes, streamlined processes and implemented ICT solutions. Additional staffing resources have also been assigned to the section and a fast track training programme has been devised.
An independent Business Process Review (BPR) is currently being carried out to identify further efficiencies that can be implemented in the short term and as a first step in the development of a new IT processing system during 2020 which will take advantage of all the new technologies available, including full digitisation. The Review, which included engagement from key stakeholders, is close to completion with the report expected before the end of the year.
I will also be amending the Employment Permits Act in 2020 to incorporate recommendations of the review of economic migration policy. this will ensure that our system is agile and fit to meet the changing economic circumstances.
At end September 2019, 13,835 applications have been received, a 10% increase on the same time last year. At the same time there has been a 46% increase in the amount of applications processed (13,715) compared to the same period last year. In July 2019, Employment Permits Section processed more employment permit applications (1,828) than during any month in the past 11 years. Quarter 3 of 2019 was the busiest Quarter in the last 11 years with 5,072 permit applications being processed so the changes currently being implemented within Employment Permits are resulting in higher outputs and reduced processing times.
Employment Permits Section is working to further reduce the current waiting times of:
- 3 weeks for Trusted Partners which account for 73% of applications this year (down from a peak of 7 weeks). Trusted Partners are regular users of the service.
- 12 weeks for standard applications which account for 27% of applications this year (down from a peak of 16 weeks).
Applicants are advised to apply for the employment permit at least 12 weeks in advance of the expected start date so that any impact of the current extended processing timelines on recruitment timeframes is minimised.