Thursday, 7 April 2022
Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment
56. To ask the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the additional resources that are being allocated to processing work permit applications in view of the significant increase in the number applying; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18761/22]
57. To ask the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the current processing times for general employment permits; the measures that are being taken to prioritise these types of permits due to SMEs experiencing issues around staffing shortfalls; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18753/22]
My Department experienced a significant increase in applications for employment permits in the past year, impacting on processing times. From the start of January to the end of December 2021, some 27,666 applications were received, representing a 69% increase over the same period in 2020 (16,293) and a 47% increase on 2019 (18,811), which itself represented an 11 year high in applications.
My Department has issued 16,275 employment permits in 2021, and processed a total of 17,968 applications which represents a significant volume of activity. In addition, the extension of categories of employment permits following the latest Review of the Occupational Lists has increased the demand for employment permits.
My Department and I recognise the impact delays on the processing times for employment permits has for businesses and their workers and the Employment Permits team are committed to reducing these times.
An plan of action is being implemented by officials in the Employment Permits team. It has increased resources and implemented more efficient methods of processing applications, including removing hundreds of doctors from the permits system. The processing team has trebled in size and daily output has more than tripled compared to 2021 levels.
Since the implementation of this plan, the Employment Permits section has made positive progress to reduce the current backlog reducing the number of applications awaiting processing from 11,181 in January 2022 to 8,773 at the end of March 2022. Officials expect to see a further significant improvements in this backlog by the end of Q2 of 2022.
Waiting time for Critical Skills Employment Permits (CSEPs) have been more than halved in the past seven weeks. The Department plans to maintain processing times for all CSEP applications at approximately its current level for all of Q2, on the assumption that demand remains at current levels. The waiting time for other permit types will fall considerably in Q2.