The Government is introducing changes to make it easier for partners and spouses of workers from outside Europe who are employed in Ireland under Critical Skills Employment Permits to also get work here. 

Difficulties with the system had been seen as an impediment to companies that were seeking to attract employees from abroad with badly needed skills. 

The Critical Skills Employment Permit was introduced to attract talent that was not already readily available either within Ireland or the European Economic area. 

Under the existing system those applying for such a permit had the option of seeking permission to bring their family with them.  

If they also wanted to work, their dependent, spouse or partner could also apply for a specific employment permit. 

But the system had been beset with unnecessary delays as a result of administrative issues, creating a barrier for those securing work. 

A campaign had been launched by those caught up in the bureaucratic stalemate, calling on the Government to educate employers so they would understand that holders of the so-called Stamp 3 permit are legally entitled to apply for work. 

They also wanted a new immigration stamp to be introduced that recognised the legal right of dependent family members to apply for jobs. 

The Reform Stamp 3 campaign also claimed that dependent families should not have to get an additional "Stamp 1" employment work permit before they could begin working and it wanted the registration time for permits to be reduced to two weeks.

But now the Government has announced changes that will give partners and spouses immediate and full access to the labour market without the need for an employment permit. 

"We are talking about a small group of people here - less than 1,000 spouses and partners per year - but this small change will make a big difference in terms of Ireland's offering to both investors, and international talent," said Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humphreys. 

According to the Minister, many of the spouses and partners of those coming here under the permit system are also very skilled, and in many cases the families leave Ireland earlier than planned because the spouses or partners could not get a job themselves. 

"On arrival in the State, eligible spouses and de facto partners will be granted an immigration permission with automatic right to work," said Justice Minister, Charlie Flanagan, whose department helped bring about the changes. 

"This will enable critical skills permit holders and their families to quickly become established and assist in their integration in society," he added. 

The new arrangements will be open to those spouses and partners of those already here on a Critical Skills Employment Permit. 

They will have to attend their local immigration office with their spouse/de-facto partner who is the holder of a CSEP to obtain a permission to reside on Stamp 1 conditions without the need for an employment permit. 

The American Chamber of Commerce Ireland, which represents over 700 US companies in Ireland, has  welcomed today's changes, which it said will "help future-proof Ireland’s reputation as a globally inclusive location of choice for talent."

"This announcement showcases a joined-up cross-Departmental approach to streamlining Ireland's talent mobility regime," the American Chamber said. 

It also said it contributes to the adoption of an agile and user-focused system which has been advocated by the American Chamber. 

"The new process will contribute to enhancing Ireland's overall competitiveness in a rapidly changing talent environment," it added.