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A protest by essential migrant workers seeking the right to reunite with their families, outside the Department of Justice in Dublin Arthur Carron

Spouses and partners of employment permit holders will now be allowed to work in Ireland

They will need to have already been granted permission to live in Ireland with their family member.

LAST UPDATE | 9 hrs ago

SPOUSES AND PARTNERS of employment permit holders in Ireland who are already in the State will now be granted the right to work under a new agreement from Government. 

Currently, the ability to work without a permit was only provided to spouses and partners of Critical Skills Employment Permit holders.

This has now been extended to include General Employment Permit holders and Intra-Corporate Transferee Permit holders who are already in the State and who have been granted permission to live in Ireland with their family member. 

Current and future permit holders whose spouses or partners are not in the State will still need to apply for family reunification after 12 months as currently. However, once such family reunification has been granted, those spouses or partners will also now be able to work without the need for a separate employment permit.

The changes for spouses and partners of the General Employment Permit holders and Intra-Corporate Transferee Permit holders take immediate effect. 

This change will not apply to spouses and de-facto partners who are living in Ireland on other permissions such as visitors or for study. 

Single permit

The Government has also agreed to roll out a single permit to both work and live in Ireland. Implementing a single permit will eventually allow Ireland to opt into the EU’s Single Permit Directive. 

The adoption of a Single Permit is expected to be completed over the course of the next three years. A programme management team will be established between the Department of Justice and the Department of Enterprise to implement the measure.

“At the moment, you have to apply to the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment for a work permit, and then you have to go to the Department of Justice to apply for a visa,” Minister for Justice Helen McEntee said.

“By introducing a single permission, we can reduce the cost and complexity for both employers and applicants of having to separately obtain employment and residence permits,” McEntee said. 

“This will ensure that we can respond effectively and quickly to meet the skills needs of the economy.”

The Government announcements today have been welcomed by the Migrant Rights Centre Ireland (MRCI).  Edel McGinley, director of MRCI, said the organisation has “pressed for some time for spouses and partners to have the right to work”.

“This progressive change begins to show the value the government places on all migrant workers here in Ireland. This now paves the way for a broader, more inclusive family reunion policy as well,” McGinley said.

She added that the move to a Single Permit “should make the system much simpler, quicker and less costly”. 

Migrants workers recruited to work in Ireland to do essential work held a mass demonstration outside the Department of Justice today to call for changes to the family reunion policy. 

Nurudeen Oyewole, spokesperson for the Families Belong Together campaign group and a social care worker said: “It’s deeply painful for me not being able have my children
and wife with me here.

“I miss them every single day, but we are separated by the family reunion policy. I want to be in my kids lives, they need me.

“My wife and I need each other too. I shouldn’t have to choose between providing for my family and being with them.”

Brian Killoran, CEO of the Immigrant Council of Ireland, congratulated the justice minister for making this change to legislation after his organisation’s 20-year campaign.

“These restrictions, deeply damaging as they have been to the life prospects of those impacted, have never made any logical sense. In a time when Ireland is close to full employment, it makes enormous sense to allow these individuals to progress and contribute, as is their desire,” Killoran added.

“Now it is time to go further and apply these changes to all dependents of
employment permit holders in Ireland.”

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