In 2019, Ireland received 49 000 new immigrants on a long-term or permanent basis (including changes of status and free mobility), 7.8% more than in 2018. This figure comprises 64% immigrants benefitting from free mobility, 26.1% labour migrants, 7.9% family members (including accompanying family) and 1.9% humanitarian migrants. Around 35 000 permits were issued to tertiary-level international students and 1 300 to temporary and seasonal labour migrants (excluding intra-EU migration). In addition, 17 000 intra-EU postings were recorded in 2019, an increase of 120% compared to 2018. These posted workers are generally on short-term contracts.

In 2020, the number of first asylum applicants decreased by -67.6%, to reach around 1 500. The majority of applicants came from Nigeria (200), Somalia (200) and Pakistan (85). The largest increase since 2019 concerned nationals of Somalia (30) and the largest decrease nationals of Albania (-900). Of the 1 300 decisions taken in 2020, 74.1% were positive.

Emigration of Irish to OECD countries decreased by -31% in 2019, to 17 000. Approximately 14% of this group migrated to Australia, 13% to Spain and 12% to the Netherlands.

The Department of Justice was restructured in 2019, as part of which policy and legislation on immigration matters were amalgamated with other similar functions within a new Civil Justice & Equality pillar, along with Immigration Service Delivery, including: visas; border management; determination of immigration permissions for non-EEA nationals in the State; registration of residence permissions; EU Treaty Rights; and citizenship applications and repatriation.

During 2020 to 2021 changes were introduced for occupations in the health sector including eligibility for permits for health care assistant and other roles and widening access to the Critical Skills employment permit to registered nurses, midwives and radiographers who are diploma qualified. Also in 2020, minimum remuneration levels for the Critical Skill employment permit were increased and the duration of the labour market test was extended to four weeks. From March 2019, spouses/partners of Critical Skills employment permit holders and researchers with a hosting agreement will have full access to the labour market without the need to obtain an Employment Permit.

A public consultation on the Employment Permits (Consolidation and Amendment) Bill was launched in December 2019. The bill includes proposals for a seasonal employment permit that would provide for a non-EEA national to work in the Irish State temporarily while retaining a legal domicile in a third country, for the purposes of employment in a sector of seasonal activity. The bill also provides for the introduction of a special circumstances employment permit to cover occasional needs in the labour market that would not meet all the criteria for a standard General Employment Permit.

The Report of the Advisory Group on the Provision of Support including Accommodation to Persons in the International Protection Process was published in September 2020. The Advisory Group was established in 2019 to advise on the development of a long-term approach to support for persons in the international protection process. It recommended: a holistic approach to the international protection process; shorter processing times for international protection applications; ending the congregated and segregated accommodation of applicants for protection and providing own-door accommodation; and early transition to a new system to be implemented by 2023.

The immigration preclearance scheme was extended to non-EEA national de facto partners of Irish citizens in 2019. This allows partners of Irish citizens to apply for permission to reside prior to arrival in the state, can register with immigration authorities and have immediate access to the labour market.

Administrative data on the recipients of the Pandemic Unemployment Payment from May to November 2020 show that around 28% of PUP claimants were non‐Irish nationals: This is significantly higher than the proportion of non‐Irish nationals in the labour force in Q1 2020 before the pandemic hit (17.5%). East European nationals were also more likely to receive payments under the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme (TWSS) relative to their share of employment, though not other non‐Irish groups.

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