Irish general employment permit and visa ban for asylum seekers to be ruled unconstitutional.

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Ireland’s Supreme Court has notified the State of its intention to make a formal declaration in February 2018, ruling that a total Irish general employment permit and visa ban that stops asylum seekers working in the country is unconstitutional. Five judges announced that its declaration will be made on February 9th, 2018.

Sanwar Ali comment:

The Irish employment permit scheme should still be considered a good alternative option compared to say the UK Tier 2 Visa and Tier 2 Sponsorship Licence Scheme for those willing to consider Ireland as an alternative immigration destination to the UK.   The UK Tier 2 visa system is complicated, bureaucratic, expensive and unfair.

It’s understood that the Supreme Court’s decision will not be swayed by any progress the State has made towards tackling the court’s findings on the ban. On May 30th, 2017 the court ruled unanimously ‘in principle’ that the Irish general employment permit and visa ban was unconstitutional.

However, a formal declaration was postponed for six months while the government was given time to address the situation. When the case returned to court in November, exactly six months after the original hearing, the court sought a further deferral until March 2018.

European Commission Reception Directive and Irish Visas

Representing the State, Nuala Butler SC, said: “The government is in the process of opting into the EC Reception Directive, which contains a provision requiring member states to afford the right to work in certain circumstances, but the matter is complex with many issues needing to be addressed.”

Butler insisted that the court should not make a formal declaration of ‘unconstitutionality’ because it would lead to a deluge of Irish general employment permit and visa applications from asylum seekers wanting permission to work in Ireland.

According to Butler, a high volume of these Irish general employment permit and visa applications would be refused, while wasting a huge amount of time and resources to process them.

Meanwhile, Michael Lynn SC, who represented a Rohingya man who successfully challenged the ban, stated that his team would ‘prefer an immediate declaration.’ However, he added that he did not want to create ‘unnecessary obstacles’ and any ruling was for the court to determine.

Absolute Irish work permit and visa ban inconsistent with the Constitution

Following an adjournment to ponder the case, the Chief Justice Mr Justice Frank Clarke, stated that the court had already passed judgement on the matter and ruled, under certain circumstances, that a total ban is inconsistent with the Constitution.

The Chief Justice said: “The court strongly emphasises, on finding a measure to be unconstitutional, that the normal position is the court must immediately declare it to be so and thereby render it [the ban] inoperative.”

The Supreme Court found, ‘in principle’, and where there is no statutory time limit for processing asylum applications, a total ban on asylum seekers targeting employment under the 1996 Refugee Act, and continued in the International Protection Act 2015, is contrary to the constitutional right to seek employment.

The ruling primarily focuses on the extent of the entitlement of non-Irish citizens, as ‘human persons’, to rely on constitutional rights. The case, brought against the Minister for Justice with the Attorney General and Irish Human Rights & Equality Commission as notice parties, raised important legal issues and the Commission had described it as a “test” case.

Interest in Irish visas increasing is receiving increasing interest in Ireland as an immigration option. If you have a contract of employment in Ireland, this may be worth considering. For many, it is difficult to gain entry or leave to remain in the UK.

In the UK, fewer people now qualify for indefinite leave to remain. The UK government is likely to take even more steps in future to restrict Tier 2 visas. The Tier 2 visa allows skilled, foreign workers to work for a Tier 2 Sponsorship Licence holding UK employer, and eventually gain UK legal permanent residence.

It is one of the few options left for work-based entry to the UK. can help with the Atypical Working Scheme, the Irish General Employment Permit, Critical Skills Employment Permit, and UK Tier 2 Visa, and UK Tier 2 Sponsorship Licence.

If you are a highly skilled worker with good qualifications and experience then we may be able to come up with an immigration route for Ireland. For more information on immigration to Ireland, call the London office on 0344 991 9222.