Covid-19 – Immigration Changes

Covid-19 – Immigration Changes

This note is part of a series that the lawyers of Reddy Charlton will issue on the major legal, personal and business issues that will confront us all during the Covid-19 crisis.

The Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation (“DBEI”) have outlined their contingency arrangements to the employment permit system in light of the Covid-19 outbreak. These arrangements are important to note for current and future employers of employment permit holders. Here are some of the key questions which employers have had.

What are the new arrangements for issuing employment permits?

DBEI have introduced temporary arrangements which allows an electronic version of an employment permit to be issued via email as proof that employment permit has been granted for the named employee. A letter from DBEI will accompany an employment permit and both should be presented to immigration officials for verification purposes when required.

When the employment permit system returns to the original system, the original and certified copies of the employment permit will be distributed by DBEI to the employer and the employee.

What if an employee has already submitted an employment permit application?

DBEI are taking a pragmatic view in situations where an employee has already submitted an employment permit. In the current circumstances employees may not be able to take up their new employment and therefore DBEI will facilitate changes to an application. DBEI is doing the following to assist:

• hold applications in the processing queue until the situation becomes clearer;
• allow changes to employment start dates where the permit has not yet been processed;
• allow an application to be cancelled with a 100% refund of fees paid towards the application where an application has still to be processed.

My employee is a permit holder who is now working from home in Ireland. Do we need to inform DBEI?

In short, yes. As a result of the emergency, employment permit holders are entitled to work from home but the employer needs to inform DBEI that their employees are working from home. However, DBEI do not need to be informed of the employees’ names but instead just the name of the employer. Once the current restrictions have been lifted, the Department will expect that the employment permit holder will return to work at the locations specified on their permit.

Do we need to notify DBEI about any other changes to the terms and conditions of the employment permit holder?

Generally speaking employers are not required to update DBEI under the legislation in respect of minor changes over the duration of an employment permit, eg, where there is a change in job title but the main duties remain the same. However, material changes – such as changes to salary – would generally require a new employment permit. However, in the current circumstances DBEI state they will be flexible and consider such matters on a case by case basis when brought to their attention.

What do I have to do as an employer if I have to lay-off, put on short time working or make redundant an employee who has an employment permit?

Where an employee either has to be laid off or placed on short time working, DBEI recommends that it is informed prior to this action being taken so that a note can be put on the employee’s permanent file.

The effect of the reductions in either salary or working hours may have a potential impact on the ability to achieve the conditions necessary for the renewal of a permit. However, DBEI have outlined that they will take into consideration that this has been as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak when considering a renewal application.

Where there is the possibility of making an employee redundant, the employer may wish to consider the other supports available from the Government, including the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (which is also available for those employees who have been laid off) or the Covid-19 Wage Subsidy Scheme.

What if my employee’s immigration permission is due to expire between 20 March 2020 and 20 May 2020?

In cases where the employee’s permission was due to expire during this timeframe, the employment permit is automatically renewed for a period of 2 months by the Minister for Justice and Equality. The permission will be on the same basis as the existing permission and will have the same conditions.

How can Reddy Charlton help?

During this Covid 19 crisis, Reddy Charlton Solicitors are eager to support, encourage and guide your business. For further information on this topic, please contact Laura Graham at

Laura Graham
Author: Laura Graham