What is the change? The European Union has approved Ireland’s decision to opt in to the EU (recast) Reception Conditions Directive to provide work authorization to applicants for international protection.

What does the change mean? Ireland now has until June 30 to pass the legislation necessary to opt in to the directive. Applicants for international protection continue to have the same access to the Irish labor market as other non-EU nationals. Once in place, the directive will replace the interim solution for asylum seekers, which was implemented in February, and potentially allow certain eligible asylum seekers to access work authorization through an immigration permission. The specific measures that Ireland will adopt remain to be seen, however.

  • Implementation time frame: Ongoing. Ireland must pass legislation by June 30 to implement the directive.
  • Visas/permits affected: Employment permits.
  • Who is affected: International protection applicants who want to work in Ireland.
  • Impact on processing times: Applicants for employment permits may experience delays if the caseload increases significantly as international protection applicants continue to have access to the Irish labor market through the directive. Delays have occurred this year, but it is unclear if that is due to the increase in applications.

Background: Last year, Ireland’s Supreme Court struck down in principle the country’s ban on work authorization for asylum seekers. Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan 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. Authorities implemented an interim measure described in an information booklet that detailed how asylum seekers are able to access the labor market before the directive is implemented. Both houses of the Oireachtas (Ireland’s legislature) must approve the opt-in now that the EU has confirmed Ireland’s participation in the directive.

BAL Analysis: Applicants for international protection may continue to access the Irish 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 of Justice and Equality, as detailed in the information booklet published in February. BAL will monitor developments in Ireland and will alert clients to any significant changes in processing times that may result as the country moves to implement the directive.

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

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