The Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment has stated they have a significant backlog in work permit applications., totalling 10,500 at the end of January 2022, compared to a backlog of just 1,000 in April 2021. according to the Minister for State for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Damien English. The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and an increase in demand is being blamed for the delays.
Minister English Comments
In the Dáil reply, featured on the Houses of the Oireachtas website Mr English said:
“The Department recognises the impact delays on the processing times for work permits has for businesses and their workers and has developed a plan of action to reduce processing times built up over the pandemic.”
The plan to reduce delays included approvals in late November and earlier this month to increase the number of staff in the processing team. Once the permanent and temporary staff recruitment is completed, the team will have grown to 52 staff, three and a quarter times the size it was in early November. Other actions included the temporary reassignment of staff from other department areas with the right skills. Maximum overtime hours are also in place for the existing team and former processors from the broader civil service.
The figures show that the three largest sectors to attract work permits in 2021 were health – 5,793, tech -4,615 and finance/insurance at 1,094. The impact of this backlog appears to have a lasting effect, as Excel Recruitment stated in a recent Irish Times article, that the work visa crisis might choke hospitality recovery. They have called on the Government to change the visa process for workers coming to Ireland overseas to ensure a faster, less expensive, and more flexible process. It says tourism-related businesses across the State face closure unless the Government moves quickly to bridge the gap between vacancies and the staff available to fill them.
As processing times for standard applications is currently around five months (previously, it could take around six weeks), employers need to bear this in mind when recruiting.