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IRE Immigration Employer COVID-19 FAQ's

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 have 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 advice 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

There are currently no entry ban preventing employees from entering Ireland. As of the 19th of March 2020, however, the Irish government has announced that anyone coming into Ireland (except from Northern Ireland) will be required to restrict their movements or self-isolate on arrival for 14 days, and to complete a Passenger Locator Form, to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

On 22nd July 2020, a green list of countries was announced by the Irish government. As of 12th October 2020, the green list has been updated to include no countries. This means that everyone entering Ireland (unless from Northern Ireland) is required to restrict their movements or self-isolate on arrival for 14 days to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. This list will be reviewed on a fortnightly basis.

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. 

In order to stay up to date on entry requirements into Ireland, we advise that you contact us 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. Travellers into Ireland will need to restrict their movements on arrival for 14 days. At present, this applies to all countries, except for Northen 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 national and need to apply for an entry visa

On the 21st of 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.

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. As there are still restrictions in place in many countries, locations where processing cannot resume will remain closed, but intend to resume accepting visa applications as soon as is possible.

b. My employee is a visa required national, can they apply from another country

On the 21st of 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.

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. As there are still restrictions in place in many countries, locations where processing cannot resume will remain closed, but intend to resume accepting visa applications as soon as is possible.

Issued employment permits 

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

If they are an entry visa required national, they will now no longer be able to enter Ireland. If they are a non-entry visa required national, they may be able to enter depending on flights and airline. 

On 22nd July 2020, a green list of countries was announced by the Irish government. As of 12th October 2020, the green list has been updated to include no countries. This means that everyone entering Ireland (unless from Northern Ireland) is required to restrict their movements or self-isolate on arrival for 14 days to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. This list will be reviewed on a fortnightly basis.

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. 

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.

In country considerations

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

On 21 October 2020, the ISD at Burgh Quay, Dublin announced the closure of the Burgh Quay Registration Office. This is a temporary closure, in line with Ireland’s 6 weeks lockdown, starting from midnight 21 October 2020. All regional registration offices will remain open.

As part of the previous closure they confirmed that foreign nationals with valid immigration permission (which includes the 90 day permission granted at entry), due to expire between 20th March 2020 and 20th May 2020, will be granted an automatic 2 month extension. This was further extended for an automatic additional 2 months to all permissions due to expire between 20th May 2020 and 20th July 2020. This was then extended for a 1 month automatic extension, granted to individuals whose permissions were expiring between 20th July 2020 and 20th August 2020.

The Irish authorities announced on 18th August 2020, an additional automatic extension of 1 month for all permissions (which includes the 90 day permission granted at entry) due to expire between 20th August 2020 and 20th September 2020.

Finally an extension has been granted to those expiring between 20th September 2020 and 20 January 2021.

As of 20th July 2020, foreign nationals 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 need to be sent to the INIS in order to be stamped.

Foreign nationals who have not yet completed their first residence permit registration should now be able to register in-person via an appointment, which can be booked online.

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, they will need to attend an appointment to renew their residency permission. As of 21 October 2020, the ISD at Burgh Quay, Dublin announced the closure of the Burgh Quay Registration Office. This is a temporary closure, in line with Ireland’s 6 weeks lockdown, starting from midnight 21 October 2020. All regional registration offices will remain open. As part of this and previous closures, the ISD has confirmed that foreign nationals with valid immigration permission, which expired between 20th March 2020 and now, will be granted an automatic extension until 20th January 2021. During this temporary closure, foreign nationals residing in county Dublin may still use the online portal to renew their IRP permission.

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 27th April 2020 until the 20th 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

As of 7th July 2020, foreign nationals who reside in County Dublin and whose IRP cards have expired can now apply for their IRP renewal online. Passports and expired IRP cards will need to be sent to the INIS in order to be stamped.

! 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

In the current unprecedented situation, where an Irish Residence Permit is due to expire between 20th March 2020 and 20th May 2020, the government have confirmed that foreign nationals with valid immigration permission will be granted an automatic 2 month extension. This was further extended for an automatic additional 2 months to all permissions due to expire between 20th May 2020 and 20th July 2020. This was further extended for an automatic additional 1 month to all permissions due to expire between 20th July 2020 and 20th August 2020. Another 1 month automatic extension was granted for those individuals whose permissions (included the previously extended permissions) were expiring between 20th August 2020 and 20th September 2020. Finally a further 1 month extension was granted for those expiring between 20th September 2020 and 20th January 2021.

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

As of 20th July 2020, foreign nationals who reside in county 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 need to be sent to the INIS in order to be stamped.

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 in Deloitte. 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 the 22 September 2020

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