Indians in Ireland
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Leprechauns, popular in Irish folklore, are known to hide their pot of gold deep in the countryside. Today, many Indians, including those currently in the UK, are looking at migrating to Ireland to find their own pot of gold. The reason is simple. Ireland enables free access to the European Union (EU). Further, on acquiring Irish citizenship under the ‘Common Travel Area Agreement’ between Ireland and the UK, individuals can live and work in the UK without requiring any further visa or work permit. “This makes Ireland the only country in the world, whose citizens have free access to all EU countries and the UK,” Andrew Parish, chief commercial officer at Irish Diaspora Loan Fund, told TOI.
In general, people who arrive in Ireland for work can apply for citizenship after five years of residence. In 2018, 629 Indians were granted citizenship, constituting 7.6% of the aggregate number of 8,225 new citizens. The top three origin countries of Poland, Romania and the UK were from the European Economic Area (EEA). In the previous year, India occupied third slot with 665 Indians (8% of total) acquiring citizenship.
Ireland requires non-EEA nationals to obtain work permits. Here, Indians occupy the top slot and are also the largest beneficiaries of various visas allotted in 2018. They constitute the second largest group of non-EEA registered nationals (after Brazilians) living in Ireland. The stand-alone numbers seem insignificant but the upward trend is set to continue.
“There has been a clear surge in interest among both individuals and companies, in particular multinationals, looking to Ireland to establish an EU foothold in light of the UK decision to depart from the EU, resulting in more opportunities for non-EEA nationals to take up employment in Ireland,” Aoife Gillespie, who leads the immigration group at Philip Lee, a law firm, told TOI.
According to statistics released by Ireland’s Department of Business Enterprise and Innovation, one-third (4,664) of the total work permits of 14,014 allotted to non-EEA nationals in the nine-month period ended October 2019 went to Indians. Brazil, ranked second with 1,424 permits. In 2018, Indians had obtained 4,313 work permits or 32% of the aggregate total of 13,398, as opposed to Brazil at 1,426 permits (10.6%).
Irish business entities are required to employ a minimum 50% of their workforce from within the EEA, in order to sponsor a work permit application for a non-EEA national. Conor O’Riordan, from the press office of Ireland’s Department of Justice and Equality, which provides immigration services, said that work permits to non-EEA nationals are mainly given to highly skilled personnel to address skill deficits and this is expected to continue into the medium term.
“Ireland’s ‘Critical Skills Employment Permit’ (CSEP) is designed to attract highly skilled people into the labour market with the aim of encouraging them to take up permanent residence. The Information, Communications and Technology (ICT) sector employs a significant number of Indians. Occupations such as ICT professionals, professional engineers and technologists are catered for under this type of employment permit,” says Jeanette Ryan, a Dublinbased immigration adviser.
Several tech companies such as Google, Apple are headquartered in Ireland, for various reasons including tax savings. The start-up ecosystem is also growing rapidly. Other sectors that rely on non-EEA employees under the CSEP are medical and health, accountancy, academic and marketing. Ramakrishnan Ramanathan, a senior financial service professional in a multinational consultancy, was one of the early movers. Today he has spent more than a decade in Ireland and is a well-settled Irish citizen. “This enables me and my wife to travel and work within the EU/EEA area freely,” he said.
While CESP prescribes for a minimum annual salary threshold of €30,000 up to €60,000 (the levels may increase slightly next year), no labour market test is required. In other words, employers do not have to advertise the job vacancy. “CSEP holders can bring their family with them to Ireland immediately and their spouses can work without having to apply for a separate employment permit,” explains Gillespie. “With the tech sector picking up in Ireland, this is a huge plus for H-1B workers whose spouses are facing employment related hurdles,” cites an aspiring immigrant. A proposed bill is also expected to introduce new types of employment permits, such as seasonal permits, which could boost hiring of non-EEA nationals.