What is the change? Ireland will institute interim measures to provide work rights to qualifying international protection applicants as it awaits for final approval on a plan to opt in to the EU (recast) Reception Conditions Directive.

What does the change mean? Starting Feb. 9, applicants for international protection will be able to access the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation’s employment permits system on the same basis as other non-EEA nationals. Authorities will also introduce a scheme to allow self-employment for international protection applicants who have waited nine months or more for an initial decision on their application. A government task force will continue to make arrangements for Ireland to opt in to the EU directive as soon as possible.

  • Implementation time frame: The interim measures will be implemented Feb. 9.
  • Visas/permits affected: Employment permits
  • Who is affected: International protection applicants who want to work in Ireland.
  • Next steps: The interim measures will allow Ireland to begin the process of providing work rights to asylum seekers as it continues 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.

Background: In May, Ireland’s Supreme Court struck down in principle the country’s ban on work authorization for asylum seekers. 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 measures described above during the interim.

BAL Analysis: The Irish government is moving to fulfill its obligations under the Supreme Court’s May judgment in NVH v Minister for Justice and Equality. The state’s decision to provide interim measures and, eventually, to opt in to the EU directive will expand asylum seekers’ access to the Irish labor market and potentially lead to further changes in the employment permits regime.

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