Immigration and employment permits during COVID-19
This document explains how the immigration, international protection (asylum), employment permit and visa systems in Ireland are operating during COVID-19.
It does not explain how the systems work in general, please read the detailed information on citizensinformation.ie if you are not familiar with the immigration and employment permit systems in Ireland.
Residence permissions that are due to expire between 20 September 2020 and 20 January 2021 are automatically renewed until 21 January 2021. This includes people in Ireland on short stay visas and those whose permissions had already been automatically extended by previous notices.
The Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation, which issues employment permits, is working remotely. It is issuing employment permits by email only while the COVID-19 restrictions are in place. It has also introduced other measures - see ‘Employment permits’ below.
Renewal of immigration permissions
Immigration Services Division (ISD - the new name for INIS) automatically renewed all immigration permissions that were due to expire between 20 March 2020 and 20 September 2020.
A new notice was issued on 18 September 2020, extending permissions that are due to expire between 20 September 2020 and 20 January 2021 to 21 January 2021. This includes permissions that were already renewed automatically by previous notices.
It is expected that this will be the last automatic extension of residence permission granted by the Minister for Justice.
You will not get a new Irish Residence Permit (IRP - previously called a GNIB Card) during this time. You will also not get a permission letter. When normal services are resumed, you should go to your local registration office.
If you live in Dublin you can register for a new IRP online. This means you will not have to go to the registration office in Burgh Quay to register in person. Online registrations started on 20 July 2020. You must have less than 30 days left on your current permission before you can use the online renewal system.
If you were informed in your immigration permission letter that you should write to ISD to renew your permission before it expires, you should write and to ask for your permission to be renewed in the normal way.
ISD has published frequently asked questions (pdf) about the temporary renewals.
If you have to register for the first time
If you are from outside the EEA and were given permission to enter the State for a period of up to 90 days, that permission is automatically renewed on the same conditions as you were given at your point of entry to Ireland. See ‘Renewal of immigration permissions’ above.
If you are waiting to register for an Irish Residence Permit for the first time, you can apply for a letter confirming your permission to be in Ireland if you:
- Have a General Employment Permit
- Have a Critical Skills Employment Permit
- Are a trainee accountant
- Are the spouse or partner of a Critical Skills Employment Permit holder
- Are a student
- Are the spouse of an Irish citizen
- Have entered the State after being granted permission to join a family member who has international protection status in Ireland
You must be in Ireland legally to qualify. You apply by email to email@example.com. This email address should be used even if you live outside of Dublin and would normally register in your local immigration registration office.
You will still have to register when registration services resume in the area where you live.
Non EEA citizens aged 16 and over should register with ISD. If you or a member of your family will turn 16 during the emergency period, you can apply online to register if you live in Dublin, or wait until normal services have resumed in your local registration office to register and receive an IRP.
If you have arrived as the family member of an EEA citizen, you should apply for residence by completing the relevant form (see EU Treaty Rights applicants above for more information).
If you are planning on travelling to Ireland, you should read the latest Government advice. You should also follow the advice of the health authorities in your own country. Many countries are advising their citizens not to travel abroad unless there is an urgent reason.
Since 22 June 2020, ISD has restarted processing applications for long stay visas (‘D’ visas), including student visas. This is in addition to the emergency visa applications that continued to be processed during the emergency period. This includes visa applications from:
- Immediate family members of Irish citizens
- Family members of EEA citizens who are traveling with or joining an EEA family member in Ireland
- Healthcare professionals, health researchers and care professionals
- Transport and haulage professionals who need a visa to enter Ireland to complete deliveries
- Diplomats, humanitarian aid workers, staff of international organisations and military personnel
If you want to apply for a long stay visa or you are in one of the above categories above, you can apply for a visa online.
If the country where you are currently staying has travel restrictions in place, you may not be able to apply for a visa to come to Ireland. You should check the Irish embassy in your location for further information.
Employment permits are processed by the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation (DBEI).
Your residence permission will be automatically renewed until 21 January 2021 if it is due to expire between 20 September 2020 and 20 January 2021. You should apply for your employment permit renewal online. You can continue to work while you are waiting for your new employment permit.
DBEI will issue employment permits electronically (by email in pdf format) until normal services resume. Your original employment permit and a certified copy will be posted at a later date.
If you have a Critical Skills Employment Permit and you want to apply for a Stamp 4 Letter of Support, you apply by emailing a completed form to EPStamp4@dbei.gov.ie. The decision on your application will be sent to you by email. If you have already applied, you should re-apply by email.
You do not have to send your expired employment permit back to DBEI within 4 weeks of expiry during the COVID-19 emergency period.
If your employer has arranged for you to work from home, your employer should inform the DBEI.
DBEI will allow you to change your start date with your new employment, if you cannot take up the job as a result of COVID-19. During the emergency period, you will receive a full refund of your application fee if it is withdrawn because of the emergency.
You can apply for a Statement of Loss if you have lost your Employment Permit. You should email the completed application form to firstname.lastname@example.org
If you have lost your job or been laid off because of the Government’s measures to prevent the spread of the virus, read ‘If you have lost your job or been laid off’ below.
EU Treaty Rights applications and renewals
ISD is still accepting applications for residency from family members of EU citizens. Applications can be made by emailing a scanned copy of the relevant form and supporting documents to email@example.com. You will have to send the application by post at a later date.
Residence permissions have been extended automatically (see ‘Renewal of immigration permissions’ above). You should still apply for a permanent residence card if you qualify for one.
It may be more difficult to supply the documents you need to make your application. ISD has said that it will not refuse applications where some documents cannot be provided because of the COVID-19 emergency. You should send the documents that you can provide, and explain in your application that you will send the rest of the documents later.
ISD will continue to send permission letters and temporary permission letters during this period.
If your EU citizen family member has lost their job because of the COVID-19 pandemic, this will not affect your immigration status.
International protection applications
The International Protection Office (IPO) is open between 12:30pm and 3pm Monday to Friday during the COVID-19 emergency period. If you want to make an application for international protection you can go to the IPO.
Interviews for international protection restarted on 20 July 2020. The International Protection Appeals Office started hearing appeals again on 6 August 2020.
If your Temporary Residence Certificate is due to expire before 20 August 2020 you should email firstname.lastname@example.org to confirm your address
Applications for travel documents will be processed as normal during this period.
Applications for family reunification will also be processed. If you have been granted family reunification and your family member cannot travel during the time that is stated in your permission letter, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, you should contact Immigration Service Delivery.
Student permissions are also renewed automatically. See ‘Renewal of immigration permissions’ above for more information. You must still be enrolled in a course of study. This can include online courses.
English language students and the 2 year rule
If you have completed 2 years of English language study, but are unable to leave Ireland because of COVID-19, you can stay in Ireland until the end of 2020. You must enroll with an online English course until the end of the year. You must also register with your local registration office when it reopens.
If you are outside Ireland because of COVID-19, the time you spend outside the State does not count towards your 2-year study period. You must prove that your absence from Ireland is because of COVID-19 and arrange to go back to your studies when you return. You will have to contact your registration office to have your IRP updated.
Students and work
If you hold a Stamp 2, you are allowed to work for up to 40 hours per week until 1 October 2020. After this, you are allowed to work 20 hours per week during term time.
You cannot work if you have a Stamp 2A.
If you have lost your employment because of the pandemic, you can apply for the COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment. This will not affect your immigration renewal.
Third Level Graduate Programme
If you wish to apply for the Third Level Graduate Programme (stamp 1G), you can make an application by emailing email@example.com, enclosing scanned copies of your documentation. You can read more about the Third Level Graduate Programme.
The Irish Council for International Students has published an online resource for international students during the COVID-19 pandemic.
If you have lost your job or been laid off
If your employment has ended or you have been laid off temporarily because of the COVID-19 emergency measures that are in place, you can apply for the COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment if your employer can no longer pay you. Claiming this payment will not affect your immigration status or renewal or any future application for citizenship. Student visa holders who have lost all their employment can also apply.
Employment permit holders will not be penalised if they do not reach the wage threshold that is normally applicable to them, if they were laid off temporarily during the pandemic. Where possible, employers should notify DBEI that they intend to lay off workers who hold employment permits.
If you hold an employment permit and you are made redundant, you can apply for a new employment permit within 6 months of the redundancy. You will have to go to your registration office to apply for a new IRP. You should do this when normal services have been restored by ISD.
You can read more about your Employment rights during the COVID-19 restrictions.
Further information and contacts
If you need further advice on your immigration status, you can contact one of the organisations listed below.