In general, non-EEA nationals must have a permit to work in Ireland. EEA and Swiss nationals do not need an employment permit. Under the Employment Permits Acts 2003–2014 there are 9 types of employment permit (EP) including a General EP, a Critical Skills EP and a Dependant/Partner/Spousal EP.
Since 1 October 2014, the Employment Permits (Amendment) Act 2014 has changed the current employment permits system through the provision of 9 different types of employment permit with new application forms for each type and changes to the criteria for issuing employment permits. The Act also provides that a foreign national without an employment permit, who took all reasonable steps to obtain one, may be allowed to take civil action against the employer for compensation for work done or services rendered.
Once you have been issued with an employment permit you have all the employment rights of Irish or EEA citizens for the duration of the employment permit.
General EPs are issued by the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation. Either the employer or the employee can apply for the permit which must be based on an offer of employment – see 'How to apply' below.
Applications for General EPs fall into 2 categories as follows:
(a) Jobs with an annual remuneration of €30,000 or more
(b) Jobs with an annual remuneration of €27,000* are considered on an exceptional basis in the following cases:
* The annual remuneration must be €30,000 when applying for a renewal of the permit.
However applications for jobs in either category will not be considered if they are for occupations listed as ineligible - see list below.
You must have the qualifications, skills and experience required for the job. You must be directly employed and paid by your employer. General EP applications from recruitment agencies and other intermediaries are not acceptable under the scheme. The employer must be trading in Ireland, registered with Revenue and with the Companies Registration Office. A General EP 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. However, this requirement may be waived in the case of start-up companies or where the applicant will be the sole employee of the employer.
A new application for a General EP must be accompanied by evidence that a labour market needs test has been carried out.
Waivers: Since 1 October 2014 this requirement for a labour market needs test may be waived if the application:
The test requires that the vacancy must have been advertised with the Department of Social Protection (DSP) employment services/EURES employment network for 2 weeks, in a national newspaper for at least 3 days and in either a local newspaper or jobs website for 3 days. This is to ensure that, in the first instance an EEA or Swiss national cannot be found to fill the vacancy. When registering the vacancy on DSP/EURES the employer must specify that the vacancy is a potential General EP application.
If the employer has been unable to find an EEA or Swiss national, they must contact their local employment services office or Intreo centre within 4 weeks to ask for a decision to be made on the vacancy. In response to the employer’s request, the employment services office will decide whether a General EP is justified to fill the vacancy. If the employer does not contact the local employment services office, the advertisement will continue but no employment permit can be issued for that vacancy.
Employment permits are not available for the following occupations.
* In exceptional circumstances an employment permit may be granted for a carer who is a medical professional caring for a person with a severe medical condition or for a carer who has a long caring relationship with a person with special needs where there are no alternative care options
** Specialist language support and technical or sales support with fluency in a non-EEA language in respect of those companies that have formal support from the State’s enterprise development agencies earning at least €27,000 a year may apply for a work permit.
A General EP is issued first for 2 years and then may be renewed for a further 3 years. If you have worked for 5 consecutive years on a work permit you may no longer need a permit to work in Ireland. When your stamp 1 permission is due for renewal your local immigration officer – see ‘Registration’ below – will issue you with a stamp 4 immigration permission for one year which will allow you to take up any employment but not self-employment.
When you have been legally living and working in Ireland for 5 years on a work permit you can apply for long-term residence to the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) - see 'Where to apply' below. You may also apply for exemption from the requirement to have an employment permit. If your application is successful you will be granted extended residence permission for a further 5 years and you will not need a work permit to work in Ireland.
If this is your first work permit in Ireland you are expected to stay with your new employer for 12 months (apart from in exceptional circumstances). After that you may move to a new employer provided that a new application for a General EP has been made for a similar job or to another eligible employment sector. A labour market needs test is not required.
If you lose your job through redundancy, you should notify the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation using the redundancy notification form (pdf) within 28 days of your dismissal. There are provisions for non-EEA workers as follows:
Employment permit for 5 years:
If you have been made redundant after working on an employment permit for 5 consecutive years you will no longer need a permit to work in Ireland. You should apply to your local immigration officer - see 'Registration' below who will issue you with a stamp 4 immigration permission for one year. This permission may be renewed annually and it will allow you to take up any employment or become self-employed.
Employment permit for less than 5 years:
The Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation will allow you a period of 6 months to find another job. When you find another job you have to apply for a new General EP but a labour market needs test is not required. If you were made redundant from a job which is on the list of ineligible categories you may apply for a new General EP for a job on that ineligible list.
You should contact your local immigration officer to confirm your immigration status – see 'Registration' below. If you have more than 6 months before your immigration permission expires, you can reside in Ireland under your stamp 1 permission for a further 6 months. If you have less than 6 months' immigration permission you can have your immigration permission extended to 6 months which means you will have to pay for a new GNIB card - see 'Rates' below. If you have not found a new job after 6 months you will be expected to leave Ireland. If you then get an offer of employment in Ireland you may apply for a new General EP.
Short-time working: if you have been put on short-time working while on a work permit you may apply to have your General EP renewed.
Non-EEA nationals (with the exception of Switzerland) must register with the local immigration officer in the area where they intend to live when they arrive in the State. In Dublin the registration is done at the Garda National Immigration Bureau. Outside Dublin you may register at your local Garda District Headquarters.
You may be able to bring your family to live here after you have been legally working here for a year on a General EP. You also have to be able to show that you will be able to support them. In practice, you need to be earning an income above the limits for Family Income Supplement.
If you have a General EP your spouse, partner or dependants are not eligible to apply for a Dependant/Partner/Spousal EP. They can apply for a General EP in their own right. They may require visas to come to Ireland (see 'Visas' above) and there are INIS guidelines about family reunification for workers.
If you are a non-EEA national you do not need an employment permit if:
You will be refused an employment permit where you:
It is a primary condition of entry into the State for students that they are in a position to maintain themselves while studying here. Students given permission to remain in Ireland for study will not be given permission to work (defined as up to 20 hours part-time work per week or full-time work during holiday periods) unless they are attending a full-time course of at least a year leading to a recognised qualification.
Graduate scheme: Non-EEA students who have graduated with a level 7 degree may be permitted to remain in Ireland for 6 months and those with a level 8 or higher degree may be permitted to remain for 12 months. The Third Level Graduate Scheme (pdf) will allow them to find employment and apply for a General or Critical Skills permit. During this 6-month period they may work full time. They must be legally resident in Ireland and should apply for this extension of their student permission (stamp 2) to their local immigration registration office - see 'Registration and permission to remain' above.
You can read more about other types of employment in our overview document on employment permits.
The fee must be paid by the applicant. In some circumstances, for example, where the employer applying is a registered charity, the fee may be waived. Payments from businesses are made by electronic fund transfer (EFT).
Fees for new applications for General EPs
|Duration of permit||Amount|
|Up to 6 months||€500|
|Up to 2 years||€1,000|
Fees for renewals of General EPs
|Duration of renewal||Amount|
|Up to 6 months||€750|
|Up to 3 years||€1,500|
If an application is refused or withdrawn, 90% of the fee will be refunded to the applicant.
The fee for the GNIB Certificate of Registration is €300.
New applications for General EPs can be made by the prospective employer or employee to the Employment Permits Section of the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation. Applications can be made using the General Employment Permit application form (pdf). The form includes a list of the supporting documentation required.
Processing and reviews: You can check the application processing times 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 (pdf).
Renewal of General EPs: Either an employer or an employee can apply for a renewal using the General Employment Permit renewal form (pdf) 16 weeks before the expiry of the permit.
If an employer applies for a General EP in respect of a former employee who has left the state, this will be considered a new application.
There is further information about General Employment Permits on the Department's website.
Employment Permits Section
65a Adelaide Road
Opening Hours:Helpline only: Monday to Friday 9:30am - 5pm
Tel:+353 1 417 5333
Locall:1890 201 616
Fax:+353 1 631 3268
If you have a question relating to this topic you can contact the Citizens Information Phone Service on 0761 07 4000 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 8pm) or you can visit your local Citizens Information Centre.