The Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment is dealing with a “significant backlog” in work permit applications totalling 10,500 at the end of January.
The Minister for State at the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Damien English said the end of January backlog of 10,500 compares to a backlog of just 1,000 at the of April last.
In a written Dail reply to Bernard Durkan, Mr English said his Department “experienced a significant increase in applications for employment permits in the past year, impacting on processing times”.
Mr English stated that the backlog “is now stabilising”. He confirmed that during 2021, some 27,666 applications were received, representing a 69 per cent increase on the 2020 total of 16,293 and a 47 per cent increase on the 18,811 applications received in 2019.
The figures show that the three largest sectors to attract work permits in 2021 were health - 5,793, tech -4,615 and finance/insurance at 1,094.
In the Dáil reply, Mr English said the Department “recognises the impact delays on the processing times for work permits has for businesses and their workers and has developed a plan of action to reduce processing times built up over the pandemic”.
The system was also impacted by the HSE cyberattack when employment permit applications associated with the July Doctors rotation -which occurs twice yearly in January and July- had to be submitted manually.
A spokeswoman for the Department said on Monday that the staffing measures taken to address the situation include approval in late November to increase its permanent capacity by 69 per cent and to increase overall capacity to 125 per cent when temporary staff are included.