Irish IT 'needs foreign workers'

IRELAND’S cloud computing dream will go "up in smoke" say experts, as figures show two in every 10 visa applications for foreign workers are being rejected.

Last year there was more than 3,200 applications made to Irish immigration authorities by services sector companies to allow them to employ people from outside of theEU.

However, around 18% of these applications were rejected and according to some of these rejections could have been due incomplete and incorrect applications.

Declan Clune of said this may seem hard to comprehend given unemployment levels in Ireland but she said it is an issue which needs to be addressed to stimulate growth in the economy.

"Without specialist knowledge from abroad we cannot create employment for our own people," he said.

He added that Ireland is already the European data centre location of choice for world leaders like IBM, Microsoft and Intel but as the skills gaps widens in the IT sector, attracting the right people can be made more difficult due to visa requirements and timeframes that exist.

A work permit or a green card is required for skilled workers from outside of the European Economic Area (EEA) to come and work in Ireland. An intra-company transfer permit is required for those people transferring from one branch to an Irish branch of the same company. In addition, for nationals from some countries such as India, an entry visa may also be required.

"While Ireland is hit with recession, it does not mean that they have clamped down on issuing permits and green cards.

"From experience we know that the criteria surrounding work permit and green card applications change as the economic environment dictates which adds to an already complicated application process," said Mr Clune.

According to the work permit is suited towards non-professional occupations, while the green card is more suited towards those professional occupations. The green card processing timeframe is currently three weeks while the work permit is up to four months.

"Having the expertise to prepare the perfect application will be the difference in whether or not Irish green cards and permits get through successfully for employers and applicants. It is imperative that an application meets with the current requirements before it is submitted," said Mr Clune.

He added that if the application is not right there will have to be a lengthy appeals process or they would have to relodge the application.

Visafirst said it has noticed a "marked increase" in the number of applications for the IT industry recently.

This appeared in the printed version of the Irish Examiner Wednesday, August 03, 2011.

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