Press Release

Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children announce changes to the Work Visa Scheme

New rules to apply from 20 May 2000

Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Mary Harney, and Minister for Health and Children, Micheál Martin, today (Tuesday 7th May 2002) announced that the Work Visa scheme is being extended to facilitate the recruitment into the Irish Public Health Service of overseas nationals with specific expertise in the Medical, Health and Social Care sectors.

The Work Visa scheme was introduced in June 2000 as a fast-track alternative to the work permit regime so as to facilitate recruitment of overseas nationals in sectors experiencing particular skills shortages. However, up to now, the fast-track option has applied only to nurses along with IT and construction professionals.

With effect from 20 May next, a whole new range of professions will be added to those eligible for work visas. These include:

  • Medical Practitioner,
  • Dentist,
  • Diagnostic or Therapeutic Radiographer,
  • Dietician,
  • Occupational Therapist,
  • Orthoptist,
  • Medical Physicist,
  • Psychologist,
  • Speech and Language Therapist,
  • Social Worker,
  • Medical Scientist,
  • Physiotherapist,
  • Hospital Pharmacist,
  • ECG Technician,
  • Neurophysiological Measurement Technician,
  • Cardiac Catheterisation Technician,
  • Audiologist,
  • Biochemist.

The new arrangements are intended to help address shortages of professional medical, health and social care staff in the Public Health Service and hence support the delivery of the Health Strategy.

The extension of the Work Visa/Work Authorisation Scheme will facilitate the fast-track recruitment of skilled Health and Social Care Professionals from overseas. This will allow Public Health employers to undertake concerted overseas recruitment campaigns that can make a significant contribution to addressing shortages of key personnel in the Public Health Service.

Employers in the Public Health Service will continue to work with FAS to recruit Irish or other EEA nationals to meet the human resource requirements of the Service.

The new arrangements will come into effect on 20 May 2002 and are intended to facilitate easy recruitment of highly skilled persons. Strict procedures for the operation of the Scheme have been agreed between the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment, the Department of Health and Children, the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform to ensure that only appropriately qualified personnel will be admitted to Ireland under the Scheme.

Up until now, most personnel recruited from non-EEA countries to Work in the Health Service have come here under the Work Permit facility, and the new arrangements do not preclude such personnel from being admitted under the Work Permit scheme if they so wish.

The operation of the facility will be kept under review and, in light of experience, it may be further expanded or amended.