IRELAND: Making Labour Migration Work

The conference was organised by the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation (DJEI) in conjunction with EMN Ireland (Economic and Social Research Institute). The conference was well attended with both employers and employment holders in attendance.

The first part of the conference addressed the approach to identifying Labour shortages and devising migration policy to assist with the Labour shortage. We were given insight into how the data is compiled by the OCED, the UK and Ireland. We were informed that the skills shortage list for Ireland is reviewed every 6 months to ensure Ireland”s Labour market has the skills needed to meet demand. If skills cannot be sourced within Ireland or the EEA, the Immigration policy can be amended to ensure Ireland can source those skills from outside the EEA. One recent example of this was to remove Chiropractors from the ineligible list so now if a non EEA Chiropractor is identified, an employment permit application can be submitted.

In addition to skills being reviewed, salary thresholds are also regularly reviewed to ensure they align with the Irish Labour market.

The second part of the conference focused on how Ireland competes internationally for migrant workers. This alert focused on the presentation given by the DJEI as this provides an update on the Irish Immigration system.

Fiona Flood, Head of Employment Permits and Economic Migration Policy unit in the DJEI, confirmed that Ireland’s employment permits peaked at 45,000 employment permits in 2003 at the height of Ireland”s economic prowess, but these figures have since dwindled to around 5,000 employment permits until 2013, mainly due to the recession. 

Experiencing a lack of skilled workers in particular ICT, Finance, Multilingual and Diary industry sectors, Ireland relaxed and transformed its immigration policy to introduce 9 new employment permit types in 2014 and in addition the trusted partner schemes in 2015 which allows companies to have their employment permits processes within a few working days. At present, there are around 600 companies that have been registered on the scheme.

Since this series of changes, the number of migrant workers have increased steadily and assisted Ireland to economic recovery and out of its recession.  Ireland”s relaxation of its policy now sees most of its permits granted to highly skilled industry workers, mostly of the IT and medical professions. 

Upcoming changes to the Irish process

Mr. O”Sullivan, Head of Immigration Policy in the department of justice Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Services, confirmed that they are reviewing current processes and there are proposals to introduce an online appointment system for the GNIB residence permit process. In addition a combined visa/residence permit is being considered which would alleviate a visa required national undergoing an additional process to obtain a visa post arrival in Ireland.  

Newland Chase will continue to engage with the Irish authorities on behalf of our clients to improve the Irish immigration process and will inform you when any changes are introduced. Should you need further information on Irish immigration, please email us at


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