What is the change? Irish authorities have published a new information booklet that details how applicants for international protection will be able to access the Irish labor market beginning Feb. 9. Processing delays are possible if a significant number of applications are received.

What does the change mean? The booklet confirms that international protection applicants will be able to access the labor market by applying for employment permits through the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation, or by requesting permission for self-employment through  the Minister for Justice and Equality. The measures described in the booklet are being taken as interim steps while Ireland goes through the process of opting in to the EU (recast) Reception Conditions Directive. Because international protection applicants will be accessing the same employment permit system as other applicants, there may be some delays because of an increased workload.

  • Implementation time frame: The interim measures will be implemented Friday.
  • Visas/permits affected: Employment permits.
  • Who is affected: International protection applicants who want to work in Ireland and, potentially, other employment permit applicants.
  • Impact on processing times: Applicants for employment permits may experience delays if the caseload increases significantly once international protection applicants have access to the Irish labor market.

Background: In May, Ireland’s Supreme Court struck down in principle the country’s ban on work authorization for international protection applicants. The court gave the state six months to consider its response. Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan subsequently accepted a task force recommendation to opt in to the EU (recast) Reception Conditions Directive (2013/33/EU) as a means of complying with the court judgment and providing work authorization to international protection applicants. Because that process will take some months to complete, authorities will implement the interim measures described in the booklet. In the meantime, Ireland will continue to take steps to opt in to the EU directive. Both houses of the Oireachtas (Ireland’s legislature) must approve the opt-in. The EU would then have to confirm Ireland’s participation in the directive.

BAL Analysis: The 24-page information booklet provides details confirming the Irish government’s commitment to fulfill its obligations under NVH v Minister for Justice and Equality. Beginning Feb. 9, applicants for international protection will have the same access to the Irish labor market as other EU nationals, a change that could lead to a potentially significant increase in employment permit applications. BAL will monitor developments in Ireland and will alert clients to any significant changes in processing times that may result.

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group. For additional information, please contact

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