In March 2020, an Employment Permit COVID 19 Contingency Plan was implemented, with the Employment Permit Section moving seamlessly to a totally remote working environment. Conscious of the impact of COVID 19 on enterprises, my officials have endeavoured to be as flexible as possible within the legislative framework of the employment permit system. The feedback received from enterprise across the board has been universally positive, in fact Ireland was one of the few countries that has managed to keep the employment permit system fully operational throughout the crisis.
In the period of February 2021, in response to COVID 19 concerns, my colleague the Minister for Justice temporarily suspended the processing of visa applications. My officials made arrangements with the Department of Justice whereby they continued to process visa applications in respect of employment permits for critical/essential workers to allow them to travel to Ireland. An email outlining these arrangements issued to all Employment Permits Trusted Partners and a notice was placed on the Department's website.
When an employment permit has issued my officials are not in a position legislatively to amend the time-frame of the permit. In these circumstances, my Department is offering increased flexibility at renewal stage, whereby the permit application for renewal can be processed without a negative view taken if the permit holder travelled to the State after the date of the permit commenced.
Further information on the employment permit COVID 19 contingency arrangements put in place by my Department can be found at;