Immigration and employment permits during COVID-19
This page explains how the immigration, international protection (asylum), employment permit and visa systems in Ireland are operating during COVID-19.
If you are not familiar with the immigration and employment permit systems in Ireland, you can read more detailed information.
Residence permissions that are due to expire between 21 January 2021 and 20 April 2021 are automatically renewed until 20 April 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 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 Service Delivery (ISD - the new name for INIS) automatically renewed all immigration permissions that were due to expire between 20 March 2020 and 20 January 2021.
A new notice was issued on 22 December 2020, extending permissions that are due to expire between 21 January 2021 and 20 April 2021 to 20 April 2021. This includes permissions that were already renewed automatically by previous notices.
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. 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 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.
You will still have to register when registration services resume.
The registration office at Burgh Quay in Dublin is currently closed. If you had an appointment already booked, ISD will contact you to arrange a new appointment when services resume.
Non EEA citizens aged 16 and over should register with ISD. If you or a member of your family are turning 16 and have to register for the first time, you should:
- Email email@example.com to make an appointment to register if you live in Dublin or
- Contact your local registration office to register if you live outside of Dublin
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).
Note: Visa free travel has been suspended for citizens of:
- South Africa
This means that if you are a citizen of one of these countries, you must apply for a visa to come to Ireland. You also need a transit visa if you have to change flights in Ireland on your way to another country.
The following countries already had visa entry requirements, but now also have transit visa requirements:
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. You should only travel to Ireland if you have an essential reason.
ISD is not accepting new visa or preclearance applications with the following exceptions:
- 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
- Seasonal workers
- Workers who have been sent to Ireland to work temporarily by their employer (posted workers)
- International students
- Passengers who have critical family reasons for travelling to Ireland
- Passengers who are travelling for critical medical reasons
- Transit passengers
- Journalists travelling to Ireland as part of their work
If 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 20 April 2021 if it is due to expire between 20 September 2020 and 20 April 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 is issuing employment permits 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 your employer has arranged for you to work from home, your employer should inform the DBEI.
Letters of Support
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.
Refusals and expired permits
You do not have to send your expired employment permit back to DBEI within 4 weeks of expiry during the COVID-19 emergency period.
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.
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.
Between 18 January and 30 April 2021, you can submit an application for EU Treaty Rights by email to email@example.com, enclosing copies of all relevant supporting documentation in Adobe (.pdf) format. The email application system applies to the following in-country application types:
- Residence card - Form EUTR1
- Permitted family member assessment – Form EUTR1A
- Permanent Residence Certificate – Form EUTR2
- Permanent Residence Card – Form EU3
- Retention of rights – Form EU5
- Request for review – Form EU4
It may be more difficult to supply the documents you need to make your application. ISD will not refuse applications where some documents cannot be provided because of COVID-19 within reason. 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.
You can still apply for citizenship by naturalisation when you are eligible to do so. You should expect a delay in the return of original documents to you.
Citizenship ceremonies are suspended because of COVID-19. If you are approved for citizenship, you will be invited to complete the process by signing a statutory declaration in front of a witness. ISD will send you the form by email. You do not have to contact ISD about this.
Your witness must be either:
International protection applications
Interviews for international protection are suspended until further notice.
The International Protection Appeals Office continues to hold appeal hearings online. If you are due to attend a hearing, you (and your legal representative) will receive a written notice about the arrangements.
Only emergency applications for travel documents are being processed during Level 5 restrictions.
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 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 20 hours per week during term time and 40 hours per week in June, July, August and September.
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 want to apply for the Third Level Graduate Programme (stamp 1G), you can make an application by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, enclosing scanned copies of your documentation.
If you are studying remotely (including if you are studying remotely from your own country) you may still be eligible for the Third Level Graduate Programme for the next academic year (2021-2022). To qualify, you must be able to supply the following documents when you have completed your current course:
- A letter from the college you attended that says you were a student there in the 2020-2021 academic year.
- A Letter from the college that says the course was delivered 100% remotely and you did not have to attend classes in person.
- A letter from the qualification awarding authority that says you achieved the qualification that you were enrolled for.
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.