Immigration and employment permits during COVID-19

Introduction

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 before 20 September 2021 are automatically renewed until 20 September 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 Enterprise, Trade and Employment is issuing employment permits by email only during COVID-19. It has also introduced other measures - see ‘Employment permits’ below.

Renewal of immigration permissions

If you have an immigration permission that is due to expire between 20 March 2020 and 20 September 2021, your immigration permission is now extended to 20 September 2021.

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 resume, 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 (Immigration Service Delivery - the new name for INIS) 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.

The registration office at Burgh Quay in Dublin has reopened for first time registrations. If you had an appointment already booked, ISD will contact you to arrange a new appointment. If you don’t have a booking already, you can make an appointment to register online.

If you live outside of Dublin, you can check your local registration office for updates.

Non EEA citizens aged 16 and over should register with ISD.

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).

ISD has published frequently asked questions about immigration services during the COVID-19 emergency period (pdf).

Visas and preclearance

ISD has resumed processing all long stay ‘D’ visa and preclearance applications. This includes:

  • Long stay ‘D’ visa applications to join your family in Ireland
  • Preclearance applications for de facto partners of Critical Skills Employment Permit holders and researchers on Hosting Agreements
  • Preclearance applications for de facto partners of Irish citizens
  • Visas to join EEA family members
  • Employment permit holders

However, ISD is not accepting any short stay visa 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 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.

You can read about travelling to Ireland during COVID-19.

Employment permits

Employment permits are processed by the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment (DETE).

DETE have changed how employment permit applications and renewals are processed during COVID-19. You can read the full contingency plans on the DBEI website.

You should apply for your employment permit renewal online. You can continue to work while you are waiting for your new employment permit.

DETE is issuing employment permits by email (in pdf format). 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 DETE.

Transfer of undertakings applications should be made by emailing the completed form to employmentpermits@dbei.gov.ie.

If you want to apply for Trusted Partner Status, you must make your application online. You do not have to send the paper copy of the application by post within 10 days.

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@enterprise.gov.ie. The decision on your application will be sent to you by email.

Refusals and expired permits

If your employment permit application is refused, you can ask for a review. You must send the review form by email to EPReviews@enterprise.gov.ie.

You do not have to send your expired employment permit back to DETE within 4 weeks of expiry during COVID-19.

DETE 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. You will receive a full refund of your application fee if it is withdrawn because of COVID-19.

Lost permits

You can apply for a Statement of Loss if you have lost your Employment Permit. You should email the completed application form to EPMS@enterprise.gov.ie

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.

You can submit an application for EU Treaty Rights by email to eutreatyrights@justice.ie, enclosing copies of all relevant supporting documentation in Adobe (.pdf) format.

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.

Citizenship applications

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 taking place by video conference until further notice.

The International Protection Appeals Tribunal will hold appeal hearings online until at least the end of August 2021. If you are due to attend a hearing, you (and your legal representative) will receive a written notice about the arrangements.

If your Temporary Residence Certificate is due to expire within the next 3 weeks you should email trcrenewals@ipo.gov.ie. You can send a completed renewal application by email.

Processing of applications for travel documents has resumed, however there is a delay to processing times.

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 COVID-19, you should contact Immigration Service Delivery.

Students

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 could apply for the COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment. Applications for this payment are now closed. 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 immigration support, 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 ended or you were laid off temporarily because of COVID-19 you could apply for the COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment if your employer can no longer pay you. This payment is no longer available for new applicants.

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 DETE 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.

Immigrant Council of Ireland

2 St Andrew Street
Dublin 2
Ireland

Opening Hours: Information and Referral Service: Mon, Tues, Thurs, Fri 10am - 1pm
Tel: +353 (0)1 674 0200
Fax: +353 (0)1 645 8059

Irish Refugee Council

37 Killarney Street
Mountjoy
Dublin 1
Ireland

Tel: (01) 764 5854
Fax: (01) 672 5927

Irish Council for International Students

41 Morehampton Road
Donnybrook
Dublin 4
Ireland

Tel: (01) 660 5233
Fax: (01) 668 2320

Crosscare Migrant Project

1a Cathedral Street
Dublin 1
Ireland

Tel: +353 (0)1 873 2844
Fax: +353 (0)1 873 7003

Nasc Migrant and Refugee Rights

34 Paul Street
Cork
T12 W14H

Tel: 021 427 3594

Doras

Central Buildings

Central Buildings
51A O'Connell Street
Limerick

Tel: 061 310 328

Page edited: 21 July 2021