Planning business travel
to Europe?

With international travel back on the cards for most travellers, many organisations are beginning to resume overseas travel for business purposes.

With this in mind, the SSW Global Immigration team would like to highlight the following updates and important reminders for those planning trips to Ireland, the EU and the Schengen Zone.

Ireland: Changes to work permits for non-EEA citizens

The Irish government has made various amendments to the employment permit system for workers from outside the European Economic Area (EEA). The changes come into effect from 28 October 2021, and include the following:

  • Most construction sector jobs are now eligible for a General Employment Permit.
  • The quota for HGV driver work permits is removed.
  • 350 General Employment Permits are available for hospitality managers.
  • Social Workers are eligible for the Critical Skills Employment Permit.
  • Dispensing Opticians are eligible for the General Employment Permit.
  • New General Employment Permit quotas are available for 1,000 Horticulture Operatives, 500 Meat Deboners, 1500 Meat Processing operatives and 100 Dairy Farm Assistants.
  • A new General Employment Permit quota is available for 100 Work Riders.

Occupations listed on the Critical Skills Occupations List are highly skilled professional roles that are in high demand and are not always available in the resident labour force.  Occupations on this list are eligible for a Critical Skills Employment Permit (CSEP) and include roles such as medicine, ICT, sciences, finance and business. Special “fast-track” conditions apply to this permit type, including eligibility to apply for family members to accompany the permit holder immediately; and after two years, the permit holder may apply for permission to work without the requirement for an employment permit.

Ineligible occupations are those that there are more than enough Irish/EEA workers to fill. Employment permits are not granted for these occupations. Ineligible occupations are generally lower skilled occupations such as personal services and operatives.

Every other job in the labour market, where an employer cannot find a worker, is eligible for a General Employment Permit.  For these occupations, the employer is required to undertake a Labour Market Needs Test by advertising the job for four weeks, and prove that no suitable Irish/EEA workers can be found to fill the role.  This permit type is renewable and after five years the applicant may apply to the Department of Justice for long-term residency permission.

Europe: EU Digital COVID certificates

Since July 2021, EU citizens and residents can verify their COVID status using the Digital COVID Certificate programme. An EU Digital COVID Certificate provides proof that the holder has either:

  • Been vaccinated against COVID-19
  • Received a negative test result
  • Recovered from COVID-19.

The Certificate is available in either digital or paper format, and includes a QR code that is acceptable within all EU countries as proof of COVID status. Obtaining a Certificate is free of charge, and can be used for travel purposes or locally to verify testing and / or vaccination status for events. More information on obtaining a certificate can be found on the European Commission website here.

Those wishing to plan their travel within Europe can also use the Re-open EU website, which provides up to date information, available in 24 languages, regarding entry requirements for all EU countries. Travellers can use the colour coded map and travel planning tool to find out the epidemiological situation and current rules in place before travelling.

Schengen Zone: Reminder for non-EU visitors

Due to the recent increase in international business travel, Smith Stone Walters would like to remind non-EU travellers of the rules for entering the Schengen Area.

The Schengen Area is the world’s largest visa-free zone, and covers most of the EU countries except Ireland, Romania, Bulgaria, Croatia and Cyprus. Although not members of the EU, countries like Norway, Iceland, Switzerland and Lichtenstein are also part of the Schengen zone.

The 26 Schengen countries are: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.

Before travelling to the Schengen Area, visitors should check whether they need to apply for a visa. Currently, citizens of 63 countries can enter the zone without the need to obtain a visa. All other third country nationals must obtain a Schengen visa prior to entering any Schengen member country.

A Schengen visa is a short-stay visa that allows a person to travel to any country within the Schengen Area, for up to 90 days in any 180-day period for tourism or business purposes. It is important to note that the 180 day period relates to any rolling 180 days, rather than calendar months.

Calculating the time spent in the Schengen Zone can be a tripping hazard for any frequent traveller – including those nationals permitted to enter the EU without a visa. Since the same 90 / 180 rule still applies, all frequent travellers to Europe are reminded of the need to retain an accurate record of trips in the last 180 day period.

To help travellers keep track of their time spend in the zone, the EU Commission offers a Schengen calculator tool which can be found here. The calculator allows users to input the start and end date of various trips to calculate the remaining period of stay permitted.

Up to date advice on business travel to Europe

Please note that the above information is correct at the time of publication. However, given the constantly changing nature of global restrictions and closures, Smith Stone Walters strongly recommends seeking advice on the current entry rules for your destination country before travelling.

The SSW Global Immigration team would be happy to advise on the latest guidance in Europe and the rest of the world in advance of your international travel. To speak to an immigration advisor, please contact us today.

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