Dependant/Partner/Spouse Employment Permit
Most non-EEA nationals must have an employment permit in order to work in Ireland. Under the Employment Permits Acts 2003–2014 there is a specific employment permit (EP) for spouses, partners and dependants of Critical Skills Employment Permit holders and researchers. To be eligible for a Dependant/Partner/Spouse (DPS) EP, the applicant must be legally resident in Ireland. Normally, the dependant must be a family member aged under 18 – see ‘Who can apply’ in the Rules section below.
The Dependant/Partner/Spouse Employment Permit applies to spouses, recognised partners, civil partners and dependants of holders of Critical Skills Employment Permits, former Green Card permits and researchers. The scheme makes it easier for eligible spouses, partners and dependants to access employment because:
- Employers do not have to advertise the job with Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection employment services/EURES before making the Dependant/Partner/Spouse Employment Permit application – known as the labour market needs test
- The spouse, partner or dependant can apply for any job vacancy other than in a domestic setting, with the exception of certain carers
- First applications and renewals for Dependant/Partner/Spouse Employment Permits are exempt from the usual application fee
Spouses, partners and dependants of other employment permit holders
Dependant/Partner/Spouse Employment Permits are not available to spouses, partners and dependants of holders of General Employment Permits (formerly work permits) or other types of employment permit. They must apply for an employment permit in their own right. Applying for a General Employment Permit means:
Who can apply
Dependant/Partner/Spouse Employment Permits apply only to spouses, partners or dependants legally resident in Ireland. Applications for spouses, partners or dependants living outside Ireland must go through the normal employment permit procedures.
In order to be eligible to apply for a Dependant/Partner/Spouse Employment Permit the following criteria must be met:
(a) The applicant and the employment permit holder must be married, in a recognised partnership or in a civil partnership (as recognised by the Department of Justice and Equality). In general, a dependant must be a family member who is unmarried and aged under 18 - see 'Dependants' below.
(b) The employment permit holder must have one of the following:
- A valid Critical Skills EP
- A valid Green Card permit
- A valid employment permit or hosting agreement in respect of a researcher position
(c) The employment permit holder must still be working within the terms of their permit.
Spouses, partners and dependants of people who once held Critical Skills, Green Card or researcher permits, but who have now got permission to work in Ireland without a permit, may also be eligible for a Dependant/Partner/Spouse Employment Permit.
The following employment permit arrangements apply to the Dependant/Partner/Spouse Employment Permit.
- Either the employer or employee can apply for the employment permit, based on an offer of employment.
- The employment permit is granted to the employee and includes a statement of the employee's rights and entitlements
- A copy of the employment permit is sent to the employer
- The employer is prohibited from deducting recruitment expenses from the employee's pay or retaining the employee's personal documents
The spouse, partner or dependant must have a job offer and must have the qualifications, skills and experience required for the job. They must be directly employed and paid by their employer in Ireland. Job offers from recruitment agencies and other intermediaries are not acceptable under the scheme. They may work for a minimum of 10 hours a week. The pay can be less than €30,000 a year but they must be paid at least the National Minimum Wage hourly rate.
The employer must be trading in Ireland, registered with Revenue and with the Companies Registration Office. A Dependant/Partner/Spouse Employment Permit will not be issued to companies where the granting of the permit would mean that more than 50% of the employees would be non-EEA nationals. This requirement may be waived if the applicant will be the sole employee of the employer.
Dependant/Partner/Spouse Employment Permits are available only to dependent unmarried children aged under 18, who are resident in Ireland as family members of the employment permit holder. In exceptional cases Dependant/Partner/Spouse Employment Permits may be available to dependants aged over 18, who became legally resident in Ireland before the age of 18.
Duration and renewal
The Dependant/Partner/Spouse Employment Permit is normally issued for the period up to the expiry date of the Certificate of Registration of the employment permit holder. It can then be renewed - see 'How to apply' below. If you have completed 5 consecutive years’ work on an employment permit you will no longer need a permit to work in Ireland. You should contact your local immigration officer to change your immigration permission.
Someone working on a Dependant/Partner/Spouse Employment Permit is expected to stay with the original employer for 12 months unless there are exceptional circumstances. After that it is possible to change job provided a new application for a Dependant/Partner/Spouse Employment Permit is made.
There is no fee for Dependant/Partner/Spouse Employment Permit applications or renewals.
How to apply
Either the employer or the employee can apply to the Employment Permits Section of the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation. You apply online with the required documentation, using the Employment Permits Online System (EPOS).
Processing and reviews: You can check the status of your application through the online status enquiry facility. The application processing times are on the Department’s website. The official processing your application will either grant it or refuse it for specific reasons. If your application is refused, you may appeal the decision within 28 days, using the form to submit a decision for review.
Renewal: Either an employer or an employee can apply using the Employment Permits Online System (EPOS).
When a Dependant/Partner/Spouse Employment Permit is issued to an eligible spouse, partner or dependant, they need to re-register with the Burgh Quay Registration Office (if living in Dublin) or the regional registration office or local Garda District Headquarters (if living outside Dublin). This is in order to obtain permission to remain in the State as an employee. It is important to do this as otherwise the spouse, partner or dependant will not have the correct immigration status.
There is further information on Dependant/Partner/Spouse Employment Permits on the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation’s website.
Where to apply