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COVID-19 | IRE Immigration Employer FAQ

Coronavirus disease 2019 (hereafter COVID-19) is a virus identified as the cause of an outbreak of respiratory illness first detected in Wuhan, China. Authorities across the globe are issuing travel health notices related to this outbreak. Deloitte’s Irish Corporate Immigration team has prepared responses to some frequently asked questions. The outline of the FAQ is as follows:

  • Working from home considerations
  • Travel considerations
  • In country consideration

In Ireland, all non-EEA nationals must apply for an employment permit to work. For certain nationalities, they must then apply for an entry visa to enter Ireland to commence work. Once in Ireland, all non-EEA nationals must apply for an Irish Residence Permit to register their permission and reside.

The Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employement (DETE) who issue employment permits have published their contingency plan. The Immigration Service Delivery, Department of Justice and Equality (ISD) who issue entry visas and Irish Residence Permits have also made a number of announcements regarding immigration permission during this time.

To help companies manage their employee’s global mobility and business travel over the coming months, Deloitte’s immigration teams all over the world have worked together to launch GoWork – COVID-19 Digital Map. It provides reliable, up-to-date information on travel restrictions, quarantine and immigration in relation to COVID-19. We hope it helps communities stay connected to the rapidly-changing global picture, now and as borders start to open.

We will continue to update this FAQ ensuring it reflects the most recent information. 

If you have any further questions, feel free to contact the immigration specialists you usually work with.

Kindly consult with your employer to understand if you have to adhere to a specific company COVID-19 policy. 

For any tax related queries, please see our website post here.

Working from home considerations

The recent measures against COVID-19 forced many organisations to enforce a working-from-home policy. According to immigration legislation, Irish work authorisation is required to work in Ireland for non-EEA nationals. Employment permits are typically linked to the location on the employment permit.

Working from home – in Ireland

While strictly speaking employees may not simply work at another location, we do not foresee any issues/inspections from the authorities to verify in light of the COVID-19 measures. DETE has confirmed that an employer should notify them where they have employees working from home. Please reach out to Deloitte if you require assistance.

Working from home – outside Ireland

If employees are working from home, and home is not in Ireland, DETE have confirmed that frequent absences or an extended absence which constitute part of an employment permit holder’s employment are not considered grounds for revocation of the permit. An employment permit holder must work at least 183 days in a full calendar year in the State to be considered employed in the State.

Further to that if:

  • Working from home in a country equal to their nationality: they should be authorised to work based on their valid passport. There is likely to be tax implications. We advise employees of notifying Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service of change in your address as soon as possible.
  • Working from home in a country which is not the same as their nationality, please consult Deloitte to verify if they are authorised to work in this country. There is likely to be tax implications. We advise employees of notifying Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service of change in your address as soon as possible.
  • An employer should notify DBEI as part of their blanket notification where they have employees working from home.

Please see the tax considerations in relation to this situation here.

Working at the office, while employees permit was issued for another location or vice versa

Consult Deloitte, as we may need to update the permit to ensure the employment permit is valid/available on the other location. This does not apply for those working from home in Ireland.

Practical implications for Employer

Have you got processes in place to provide:

a. Employment Permit application signature pages: Required for standard processing local hire employment permits and intra-company transfers

b. Employment Verification letters: Required for Stamp 4 support letter applications or Irish residence card renewals

c. Employment Contract: Signed copies to be provided for employment permit applications: 

d. Entry visa invite letter: Required for entry visa applications for employees and dependents. 

e. Support letter: Required for 14 day work permissions, business case letters and atypical working scheme

! Important note is to consider what actions you can take to minimise the impact of the above while you work from home. We have been liaising with authorities to look at the use of e-signatures and utilising technology.

Travel considerations

Authorities across the globe are imposing travel bans and company policies may limit your travel flexibility as well. In the below section, we answer the most commonly asked questions regarding travel restrictions from an Irish perspective.

  • Pre-arrival procedures – employees not yet in Ireland

Any individuals due to travel to Ireland should continue to check updated travel guidance.

A legal requirement to quarantine has been introduced for all travelers (except if your journey originates in Northern Ireland) with very limited exceptions. The following applies to arrivals from 4 February 2021:

  • 14-day quarantine period must be undertaken at the address specified on the Passenger Locator Form
  • Persons who travel from another country to Ireland, and arrive via Northern Ireland, must also observe the mandatory quarantine regime

If the traveler does not fulfil the legal requirement for mandatory quarantine they are committing an offence, and can be fined up to €2,500 or get a prison sentence of up to 6 months, or both.

Travelers may only leave your place of residence during the quarantine period for unavoidable reasons of an emergency nature to protect a person’s health or welfare, or to leave the State.

Some individuals may leave to take a RT-PCR test no less than 5 days after their arrival. If they receive written confirmation that the result of this test is negative/ ‘not detected’ their period of quarantine can end.

There some limited exemptions from the requirement to complete mandatory quarantine:

  • Patients travelling for urgent medical reasons
  • International transport workers in possession of an Annex 3 Certificate; Drivers of Heavy Goods Vehicles; Aviation and maritime crew
  • Gardaí/defence forces, while carrying out their duties
  • Travel to the State pursuant to an arrest warrant, extradition proceedings or other mandatory legal obligation
  • Diplomats, or travel to perform the function of or provide services to an office holder or elected representative
  • Transit passengers who arrive for the purposes of travelling to another state, and who do not leave the port or airport

The following may temporarily leave their place of quarantine when necessary to perform their essential function – and only for as long as strictly required:

  • A person required to carry out essential repair, maintenance, construction or safety assurance of critical transport infrastructure, critical utility infrastructure, manufacturing services, information services, or communication services
  • A member of staff of an international organisation, or person invited, carrying out functions required for the proper functioning of such organisations and which cannot be carried out remotely
  • A passenger who has been provided with written certification by Sport Ireland related to an internationally important competitive level event
  • Journalists, carrying out their professional functions

Obligations on travel organisers

The statutory instrument explains that any company or facilitator of travel into the state shall take appropriate action to notify travellers of the requirements placed on them; inclusive of ensuring the traveller has a relevant test result. Where not satisfied the obligation is on the organiser to refuse to organise, effect or facilitate the travel of the person to the State where the person has not satisfactorily completed the required.

From 29 January 2021, visa application processing for new visa/preclearance applications has temporarily been suspended. Specified priority/emergency cases will continue to be processed. The strong advice therefore is that everyone, regardless of their nationality or visa/preclearance status, or where they started from, who cannot provide proof of an essential purpose to travel to or within Ireland, should not travel to Ireland.

From 28 January 2021, all travelers from South America and South Africa will require an entry visa in order to travel to Ireland. Travelers from Northern Ireland will also be subject to self-isolation requirements.

From 16 January 2021, all passengers arriving into Ireland are required to have a negative/’not detected’ result from a pre-departure COVID-19 PCR test carried out no more than 72 hours prior to arrival in Ireland.

All travelers coming into Ireland, including Irish nationals, will need to complete a Passenger Locator Form. From 26 August 2020, this should be completed online and must be done prior to arriving in Ireland.

Once the employee holds an employment permit, entry visa (for visa required nationals) and/or an Irish Residence Permit, they can enter Ireland. It is the discretion of the immigration officer to allow for entry. 

Mandatory hotel quarantine restrictions introduced

Effective from 4am on 26 March 2021, individuals travelling into Ireland from a ‘high risk’ country, or who have travelled through a ‘high risk’ country, are
required to complete a 14 day mandatory hotel quarantine in a designated
quarantine facility, immediately upon arrival in Ireland. Individuals arriving
into Ireland without a negative or ‘not detected’ RT-PCR test must also
complete this 14 day mandatory hotel quarantine, regardless of where they have
travelled from. This list is subject to change and can be reviewed here.

Employers should update their employees who are seeking to enter Ireland after March 26, 2021. Affected travellers will be required to complete 14 days of mandatory hotel quarantine at a designated facility. The accommodation must be pre-booked and paid for before travelling to Ireland. The quarantine time can be reduced if a traveller receives a not-detected result of a COVID-19 test that is taken after ten days. It will also be extended if a passenger tests positive during
their stay.

Exemptions

If travellers are fully vaccinated and have the documents to prove that, then they will not have to complete mandatory hotel quarantine when they come to Ireland.

However, if even they are fully vaccinated, the traveller will still have to provide a
negative pre-departure PCR test and complete a period of self-quarantine at
home or wherever specified in the passenger locator form.

What ‘fully vaccinated’ means:

Type of Vaccine  You are regarded as fully vaccinated after 
Pfizer-BioNtech 7 days after 2nd dose
Moderna 14 days after 2nd dose
Oxford-AstraZeneca 15 days after 2nd dose
Johnson & Johnson/Janssen 14 days after single dose

 

All families travelling with new-born babies (no more than 28 days old), including those who have travelled to a designated state for the purpose of surrogacy, do not have to complete mandatory hotel quarantine when you come to Ireland.

However, all travellers still have to have a negative pre-departure PCR test and
complete a period of self-quarantine at home or wherever you specified in your
passenger locator form.

In order to stay up to date on entry requirements into Ireland, we advise that you contact Deloitte to determine if there have been any changes to the entry restrictions for Ireland. In addition, we suggest consulting the relevant airlines before finalising any booking to determine if additional measures need to be taken before arrival in Ireland. 


! The requirement to restrict movements could impact their ability to start work if:

  • They’re required to attend your workplace in person for a Right to Work Check 
  • Collect hardware

Entry visa

a. Employees who are visa required nationals and need to apply for an entry visa

On the 21 March 2020, the Irish government has announced that they are temporarily ceasing to accept new entry visa applications in Irish embassies/consulates and visa processing centres around the world.

Since then, the visa office in Ireland has announced that long stay and study visa applications will start to be accepted by several countries from 22 June 2020. They will not be issued until 1 July 2020 at the earliest. There are still restrictions in place in some countries. Visa processing information can be checked for each country on the DFA website here

As of midnight 27 January 2021, in addition to countries who were visa required prior to that date, passport holders of the following countries are now also required to apply for an entry visa or transit visa, as appropriate, before travelling to Ireland:

  • Argentina
  • Bolivia
  • Brazil
  • Chile
  • Colombia (transit visa now required – this country is already subject to entry visa requirements)
  • Ecuador (transit visa now required – this country is already subject to entry visa requirements)
  • Guyana
  • Paraguay
  • Peru (transit visa now required – this country is already subject to entry visa requirements)
  • South Africa
  • Suriname (transit visa now required – this country is already subject to entry visa requirements)
  • Uruguay

Issued employment permits 

a. The employee is not currently not in Ireland, but they have received their issued employment permit

If the employee is non-visa required then they may be able to enter Ireland, depending on flights and airline policies. If the employee is visa-required, then they will need to apply for their Irish entry visa. Depending on the specific local restrictions, some countries are not currently processing visa applications. The employee should check with their local Irish Embassy or Irish Consulate.

Individuals due to travel to Ireland should continue to check updated travel guidance.

The employee should enter within 3 months of the issue of the employment permit. However due to the unprecedented times and with travel bans in place, we expect there will be flexibility with this.

Each case is handled individually therefore consultation with the Irish immigration authorities will be required before a decision will be taken as to next steps.

New employment permit application

The DETE is still processing employment permit applications. They had been expediting employment permits for medical staff currently and we expect a delay in processing of permits.

There are now temporary arrangements which will allow for an electronic version (PDF) of an employment permit to issue by email to the employer/employee/agents as proof of an employment permit having granted for the named employee. From 14 December 2020, hard copy employment permits began to be issued and sent to either the employee/employer/authorized agent as noted on the submitted application. Due to recent COVID-19 restrictions, the issuance of hard copy employment permits has been postponed.

Any queries relating to the printing of permits should be e-mailed to the dedicated mailbox which has been set up to deal specifically with such queries. The email address for this mailbox is EPPrintingqueries@enterprise.gov.ie. Please allow 3-5 working days for a response.

From 3 February 2021, for employment permit applications submitted where the employee is from a visa required country, the employer will be contacted to establish if they wish to proceed with the applications. The DETE can continue to hold the application in the processing queue, change the employment start date or facilitate a withdrawal of the application with a full refund of the application fee.

Employment permit applications for non-visa required countries will continue to be processed. The advice from the Department of Justice is that everyone, regardless of their nationality or visa/preclearance status, or where they started from, who cannot provide proof of an essential purpose to travel to or within Ireland, should not travel to Ireland. We are advised that people traveling to Ireland will be asked about the nature of their journey, when they arrive in the State.

In country considerations

a. The employee is currently in Ireland but is still required to register for their Irish Residence Permit

Immigration Service Delivery has announced that Burgh Quay Registration Office will re-open for first time registration appointments from 10 May 2021 for those resident in the Dublin metropolitan area. Appointments
can be arranged now by booking online through the online portal available here. 

All regional registration offices (offices outside Dublin county) will remain open, subject to operational requirements. Only people with scheduled appointments should attend the registration offices at the time of their appointment. For the purposes of attending such appointments, registrants may travel outside of their 5km restricted travel zone.

As part of this closure, the authorities have announced that all foreign nationals with valid immigration permission (which includes the 90 day permission granted at entry), due to expire between 21 April and 20 September 2021, will be granted an automatic extension until 20 September 2021.
This announcement comes after five previous announcements (March, May, July, August, September, December 2020).

These extensions have been implemented to minimize the risk of foreign nationals falling out of residential permission in Ireland (visa required nationals should note that this cannot be used as a basis to travel in an out of Ireland).

As of 20 July 2020, foreign nationals who reside in Dublin and whose IRP cards have expired, or are due to expire in the next four weeks, can now apply for their IRP renewal online. Passports and expired IRP cards will no longer need to be sent to the INIS in order to be stamped. This change took effect from 2 December 2020.

First time residence permit registrations for individuals residing in Dublin cannot be booked or attended at present, due to the closure of the Burgh Quay Registration Offices. Such individuals without an IRP card, should note that their entry permission stamps in their passports will be subject to the automatic extension until 20 September 2021.

b. What is the impact on the employment permit in the event of a temporary layoff, reduced working hours or redundancy as a result of covid-19?

The DETE should be informed in advance of the temporary layoff/ reduced working hours so that it can be noted on the permit file. At renewal stage, the salary and working hours as per the conditions of the permit granted may not have been achieved, however, the DETE have noted that where it is related to COVID-19 they will take this into account when considering applications for renewal. 

Generally significant changes to the terms and conditions of employment such as changes to remuneration, contract conditions would be regarded as material changes and as such a new employment permit would normally be required. However, in light of the current COVID-19 situation, the Department will seek to be as flexible as possible and will consider these situations on a case by case basis when brought to the Department’s attention.

c. What is the impact if an employment permit holder has been made redundant

DETE should be informed of the redundancy within four weeks of the date, via the relevant Redundancy Form. The employment permit holder may seek employment in any eligible occupation and apply for a permit within six months of the date and the Labour Market Needs Test is waived within the six months. The employer is unable to secure an employment permit for that particular occupation for a period of 6 months.

d. Can an employment permit holder seek the COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment/Wage Subsidy Scheme?

Yes, the payment applies to non-EEA workers who have lost employment due to the COVID -19 pandemic.

Expiry of permits / not using permits

a. An employment permit will expire soon and the employee’s employment/assignment will be extended. Can they stay in Ireland?

Provided they qualify for the renewal of their permission, a renewal application can be submitted up to four months in advance of the employment permit expiry date and up to one month after the employment permit has expired.

Once the extension application has been submitted, they are permitted to remain in Ireland as well as continuing their activities.

Once the new employment permission is processed, the individual may need to renew their residency permission (IRP card). If residing in Dublin the individual should renew their IRP card online, using the new online platform.

If the individual resides outside of Dublin, then they will need to attend an in-person appointment in order to renew their residency permission (IRP card). All regional registration offices (offices outside Dublin county) will remain open, subject to operational requirements. Only people with scheduled appointments should attend the registration offices at the time of their appointment. For the purposes of attending such appointments, registrants may travel outside of their 5km restricted travel zone.

As part of the previous closures, the ISD has confirmed that foreign nationals with valid immigration permission, which expired between 20 March 2020 and now, will be granted an automatic extension until 20 September 2021.

For employees who were eligible to switch permission (for example, from a Stamp 1 to a Stamp 4 Irish Residence Permit), they were able to apply via email rather than at an in person appointment. This applied from the 27 April 2020 until the 20 July 2020. This applied to the below:

Column A – From Stamp
Column B – To Stamp
Main Benefits of this Immigration Permission Change
Stamp 1 and holding a Critical Skills Employment Permit (CSEP) Stamp 4 (having completed 21 months of employment on their CSEP and obtaining a DETE Stamp 4 support letter) Stamp 4 permission allows the individual the right to work and reside in Ireland without the need for an employment permit
Stamp 1 and holding a General Employment Permit (GEP) Stamp 4 (after having completed 5 years on their GEP) Stamp 4 permission allows the individual the right to work and reside in Ireland without the need for an employment permit

! Important note is to consider looking at upcoming expiries in next 6 months to start preparing them well in advance to anticipate longer processing times

b. Irish Residence Permit (formally GNIB card) will expire and the employee cannot renew it

The authorities have announced that all foreign nationals with valid immigration permission (which includes the 90 day permission granted at entry), due to expire between 21 April and 20 September 2021, will be granted an automatic extension until 20 September 2021.

This announcement comes after five previous announcements (March, May, July, August, September, December 2020).

These extensions have been implemented to minimize the risk of foreign nationals falling out of residential permission in Ireland (visa required nationals should note that this cannot be used as a basis to travel in an out of Ireland).

This is an automatic renewal of permission. Employees do not need to notify ISD or obtain any written approval of this.

As of 20 July 2020, foreign nationals who reside in Dublin, and whose IRP cards have expired, or are due to expire in the next four weeks, can now apply for their IRP renewal online. Original passports and expired IRP cards will no longer need to be sent to the INIS in order to be stamped.This change took effect from 2 December 2020. 

c. The employee residence permit has expired, the employee is now outside Ireland and need to return, what do they do?

Depending on their passport nationality, they can either return on the basis of passport, evidence of work permission and proof of Irish Residence Permit appointment or they will need to apply for a return visa at an Irish embassy.

From 29 January 2021, visa application processing for new visa/preclearance applications has temporarily been suspended. Specified priority/emergency cases will continue to be processed. The strong advice therefore is that everyone, regardless of their nationality or visa/preclearance status, or where they started from, who cannot provide proof of an essential purpose to travel to or within Ireland, should not travel to Ireland.

Please consult with Deloitte for further information.

Departure procedures

a. The employee intends to depart Ireland prior to the end of their employment / assignment, what actions do they need to take?

If there is a mutual agreement with to end employment or assignment earlier and the employee is not impacted by any travel bans to return home, these are the immigration related steps to take:

The employee will have to deregister their residency permission with ISD

- We ask them to return their residence permit (IRP/GNIB) to ISD

If they have an employment permit sponsored by their employer: 

- Deloitte will notify the DETE about their departure.

- The employer will need to surrender their copy of the employment permit

- The employee will need to surrender their copy of the employment permit

As an interim measure, the DETE will not require the return of these permits at this time but will expect them to be returned upon the resumption of normal employment permit operations.

b. The employee’s employment/assignment ended, yet they cannot return to their home country due to travel restrictions (company policy or entry bans). What to do?

Please consult with Deloitte to assist in this situation.

Deloitte's View

Additional details are expected as the authorities are publishing COVID-19 policies. Companies should account for affected employees and reschedule travel accordingly.

Deloitte is closely following developments and will alert clients and report additional details as they become available.

For more information regarding COVID-19, please visit our website.

 

Last updated on 12 May 2021

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