By Aileen Gittens

Change To Employment-Based “Stamp 4” Application Process

Critical Skills Employment Permit holders, Non-Consultant Hospital Doctors (NCHD) holding a Multi-Site General Employment Permit and Researchers on a Hosting Agreement, can usually avail of a “Stamp 4” immigration permission, having worked for at least 21 months in the State in accordance with the permit or hosting agreement granted.

This practice has been based on policy agreed between the Department of Justice and Equality (DJE) and the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment (DETE).

It is not set out in legislation. 

The process for applying for the Stamp 4 permission will change, with effect from 30th November 2023.

To date, a two-step process has been in place to obtain a Stamp 4 in these circumstances:

  1. Applicants would first apply for a “Request for Stamp 4 support letter” to the DETE; and
  2. If a support letter was granted, applicants would then apply to their local immigration officer for a “Stamp 4” permission.

A “Stamp 4 support letter” would usually be issued by the DETE if an applicant could show that they had lived and worked in the State for a period of 21 months, out of the 24 months of their permit/hosting agreement.

With effect from 30th November 2023, persons seeking a Stamp 4 in these circumstances will now apply directly to the DOJ for a Stamp 4. They will no longer need to apply to the DETE first for a stamp 4 support letter.

All Stamp 4 support letter applications received by the DETE prior to 30th November 2023 will continue to be processed.

Applications will be accepted up to 12 weeks prior to expiry of an applicant’s permission, to allow sufficient time for processing.

Overall, this would seem to be a positive change; removing a administrative hurdle in this process.

However, we would  urge the DOJ to ensure the process will be as smooth as possible by doing the following:

  1. Commit to a specific processing time (for example, of under 8 weeks) for these applications so that applicants are not left with a “gap” in their permission to remain in the State and to publish a “live processing tracker” so that applicants will know when to expect a decision on their application;
  2. Provide a specific mechanism for urgent applications, and exceptions to the “21” month rule to be made, where an applicant did not take up work and residence in Ireland within 3 months of the date that their permit commenced, through no fault of their own: e.g. where there was a delay in processing their visa application, or where other humanitarian circumstances resulted in a delay.

Applications are to be made to the “Registration Office, Immigration Service”. We take this to mean that applications are to be made in writing to the Registration Office, Immigration Service Delivery, 13-14 Burgh Quay, Dublin, regardless of the registration district of the applicant. 

If you have any queries on seeking a Stamp 4 permission, based on the above circumstances or any other, please reach out to our team and we would be delighted to assist you. 

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