On 23rd May 2022, the Department of Justice published on their website a “Notice for Employers- May 2022”
The notice relates to the Covid-19 temporary extensions of immigration permissions set to expire on the 31st May 2022. This temporary permission extension covers persons who have had their permission extended by any of the previous eight temporary extensions since March 2020. You can find our previous blog post regarding this extension here.
The Department of Justice has announced that there are no plans to issue an extension beyond the 31st May 2022 but states that those covered by the extension are entitled to remain, reside and work in the State if their permission previously granted permitted them to do so.
We submit that the notice of the 23rd May 2022 is problematic for a number of reasons.
A non-EEA national is required under Section 5 of the Immigration Act 2004 to hold a permission from the Minister to reside in the State. Immigration permission is generally held by an individual by virtue of a permission letter from the Minister for Justice accompanied by a certificate of registration in the form of an IRP card. In some instances, a person does not hold a permission letter and the permission comes directly from the registration certificate (IRP card).
By virtue of Section 9 of the Immigration Act 2004 Non-EEA nationals are also required to register their immigration permission and the Minister is obliged to facilitate this registration.
In many instances, persons whose permission will expire on 31st May 2022 do not have a current permission letter and are not registered as they have been relying or have had to rely on the Minister’s Covid 19 extensions of permission and therefore they will not be the holder of a valid immigration permission in the State from 31st May 2022 onwards.
The Minister’s notice further states: those covered by the extension are entitled to remain, reside and work in the State if their permission previously granted permitted them to do so..
…If your employee’s IRP card has expired and they are unable to obtain a valid registration card by 31 May 2022, they are still legally permitted to remain in the State provided they show proof that they have applied to renew their registration and are waiting for it to be processed.
We submit that this notice is not sufficient to deal with the major issue that a large number of persons are in fact going to fall undocumented on 31st May 2022 as they will now be without either a permission letter or an IRP card.
We would argue that all non-EEA nationals should be provided with a permission letter and or an IRP card to evidence their residence permission in the State and that persons should not be required to rely on this notice only as evidence of their legal residence. We submit that the Minister should extend the covid 19 extension of permission until the registration office is in a position to issue IRP cards in a timely and efficient manner.
The notice itself recognises the delay in the processing of registration applications and issuance of IRP cards:
“Please note that, in relation to renewals in the Dublin area, ISD is experiencing a very large volume of applications. The current processing time to renew a permission is 10 weeks. It can then take a further two weeks to receive a new IRP card.
We submit that the Minister is not complying with her obligations under Section 9 of the Immigration act 2004 in publishing a general notice rather than facilitating registrations and issuing IRP cards as required. We submit that the Minister should at minimum clarify that all permissions will be backdated to the date of application for renewal/ registration.
The notice has directed that those who hold employment permits must check with employment permits division of the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment regarding the issuing of a new or renewed employment permit.
It appears that the Minister’s notice on the ISD webpage is also at odds with the published policy on the website of the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment’s website which states:
“An employment permit is not a Residence Permission. In order to be lawfully resident in the State, it is a requirement that all non-EEA nationals in possession of an employment permit must register with the Garda National Immigration Bureau. It is in the best interest of the persons concerned to register as soon as possible following arrival. Delay in registering with Garda National Immigration Bureau could affect applications in the granting of long-term residency and/or citizenship. Immigration permission to remain should, where applicable, be renewed at least one month before the expiry date in order to avoid unlawful presence in the State.”
The current position is of particular concern to visas required nationals. Non-EEA nationals resident in Ireland are required to produce a valid IRP card to re-enter the State after travel. This means that those who are unable to secure an IRP card before the 31st May 2022 will be unable to leave the State until they have acquired a renewed IRP card. There is currently no system for processing re-entry visas for adults in the State since it was abolished in 2019 and therefore this would not be an alternative avenue visa required nationals could pursue should they be required to leave the State. We submit that if the Minister is not in a position to issue IRP cards in a timely manner the re-entry visa system should now be re-opened to persons in this position.
We submit that the current position the Minister has adopted will also negatively impact those who are intending to apply for naturalisation. A person’s reckonable residence is calculated from their permission letter and/or the date of their registration as reflected on their IRP card, in absence of either of these documents it appears affected persons are now set to lose out on reckonable residence for the period of time it takes to obtain their renewed IRP card. We expect this issue will cause complications for persons trying to meet the inflexible statutory requirements of reckonable residency under Section 16A of the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 1956 (as amended) which requires a 12 month period of continuous residence prior to the date of application. Thus a gap in registration will prevent many non nationals from applying for naturalization within the following 12 month period. We submit this is not an acceptable position.
Berkeley Solicitors has written to the Minister to outline our concerns. We have submitted that the Covid-19 extension of permissions should be continued until the backlog in registrations is dealt with or that at a minimum the Minister’s notice should be amended to address the above issues, to include:
- The immigration permission of any individual who is covered by notice is extended up until the date they receive their renewed IRP card;
- The immigration permission of any individual who is covered by notice will be backdated to the date of application for registration and their IRP card will reflect this;
- The re-entry visa system will be reopened for visa required nationals who need to travel whilst their registration application is being processed;
- Persons covered by this notice should receive a letter/ confirmation their immigration permission from 31st May 2022 until the issuance of their new IRP card is reckonable for an application for naturalization.
The full notice can be found here: