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Work permits

Information

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 2003–2012 there are 4 types of employment permits: work permits, Green Card permits, spousal/dependant work permits and intra-company transfer permits.

New employment permits from 1 October 2014

The Employment Permits (Amendment) Act 2014 will be commenced on 1 October 2014. New arrangements under the Act include 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.

Changes in 2013

Since 22 July 2013 further changes to the rules for work permit applications include:

  • Non-EEA nationals with Stamps 1, 1A, 2, 2A or 3 residence permission, who have been offered a job in any occupation except those on the list of ineligible categories, may apply for an employment permit. (Previously it was limited to jobs in a recognised highly skilled shortage occupation.)
  • Current holders of a work permit for an exchange agreement or internship and holders of an intra-company transfer on a one-year training programme can apply for a work permit or Green Card from within the State. This is an extension to the rule that allows current holders of intra-company transfer and contract service provider employment permits to apply for other kinds of employment permit.

These changes are in addition to the changes to the rules for work permit applications which came into effect on 10 April 2013.

Work permits - main features

  • Work permits are available for occupations with an annual remuneration of €30,000 or more.
  • Work permits for jobs with an annual remuneration below €30,000 will only be considered in exceptional cases - see 'Categories' below
  • Work permits will not be considered for occupations listed as ineligible for work permits - see below
  • The work permit is granted for 2 years initially, and then for a further 3 years. After 5 years you may no longer need a work permit - see 'Renewal of work permits' below.
  • A labour market needs test is required with all work permit applications made by the employer (see below)
  • Either the employer or employee can apply for the employment permit, based on an offer of employment
  • It will be granted to the employee and will include a statement of the employee's rights and entitlements
  • The employer is prohibited from deducting recruitment expenses from the employee's pay or retaining the employee's personal documents

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.

Rules

Work permits 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.

Categories

Applications for work permits fall into 2 categories as follows:

(a) Jobs with an annual remuneration of €30,000 or more

(b) Since 10 April 2013 jobs with an annual remuneration of €27,000 or more are considered in the following exceptional cases:

  • Non-EEA student who have graduated in the last 12 months, from an Irish third level institution, and have been offered a graduate position from the Highly Skilled Occupations List
  • Non-EEA students who have graduated in the last 12 months, from an overseas third level institution, and have been offered a graduate position as an ICT professional from the Highly Skilled Occupations List
  • Applications in respect of specialist language support and technical or sales support with a fluency in a non-EEA language for companies with formal support from the State enterprise development agencies

However applications for jobs in either category will not be considered if they are for occupations listed as ineligible - see list below.

Job offer

You must have the qualifications, skills and experience required for the job. You must be directly employed and paid by your employer. Work permit applications from recruitment agencies and other intermediaries are not acceptable under the scheme. The employer must be trading in Ireland, registered with the Revenue Commissioners and with the Companies Registration Office. A work 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 does not apply if the work permit application is made by the employee.

Labour market needs test

Since 10 April 2013, if the employer is making a new application for a work permit, it must be accompanied by evidence that a labour market needs test has been carried out. If the employee is applying for the work permit a labour market needs test is not required.

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 work permit 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 work permit is justified to fill the vacancy. If the employer does not contact the local employment services office, the advertisement will continue but no work permit can be issued for that vacancy.

Occupations that are ineligible for work permits

Since 10 April 2013 work permits are not available for the following occupations.

  • Clerical and administrative staff
  • General operatives and labourers
  • Operator and production staff
  • Domestic workers including carers in the home and childminders*
  • Work riders - horseracing
  • Retail sales staff, sales representatives and supervisory or specialist sales staff**
  • Drivers including HGV drivers
  • Nursery/crèche workers, child minders/nannies
  • Hotel, tourism and catering staff except chefs
  • The following craft workers and apprentice/trainee craft workers: bookbinders, bricklayers, cabinet makers, carpenters/joiners, carton makers, fitters - construction plant, electricians, instrumentation craftspeople, fitters, tilers - floor/wall, mechanics - heavy vehicles, instrumentation craftspersons, metal fabricators, mechanics - motor, originators, painters and decorators, plumbers, printers, engineers - refrigeration, sheet metal workers, tool makers, vehicle body repairers, machinists - wood, plasterers and welders

* 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.

Renewal of work permits

A work permit 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.

Changing employment

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 work permit has been made for a similar job or to another eligible employment sector. A labour market needs test is not required.

Losing your job

If you lose your job through redundancy you should notify the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation. There are provisions for non-EEA workers as follows:

Work permit for 5 years:
If you have been made redundant after working on a work 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.

Work permit for less than 5 years:
The Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation will allow you a period of 6 months (was 3 months) to find another job. When you find another job you have to apply for a new work permit 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 work permit 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 work permit.

Short-time working: if you have been put on short-time working while on a work permit you may apply to have your work permit renewed.

Visas

If you are a national who requires a visa, this is still a requirement even if you do not need a work permit. You should obtain a visa before travelling to Ireland. Your nearest Irish embassy or consulate will be able to advise on whether you require a travel visa.

Registration and permission to remain

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.

When you have been legally living and working in Ireland for 5 consecutive years on a work permit you will no longer need a work permit - see 'Renewal of work permits' above. You can also apply for long-term residence to the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) - see 'Where to apply' below.

Dependants

You may be able to bring your family to live here after you have been legally working here for a year on a work permit. 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 applied for your work permit before 1 June 2009 your spouse, civil partner and dependants aged under 18 may apply for a spousal/dependant work permit once they are legally resident in Ireland on the basis of being your spouse, civil partner or dependant. If you applied for a work permit after 1 June 2009, they are not eligible to apply for a spousal/dependant work permit but may apply for a work permit 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.

Work permit not necessary

If you are a non-EEA national you do not need a work permit if:

  • You have permission to remain as the spouse, civil partner or dependant of an Irish or EEA national
  • You are a Swiss national
  • You have been granted refugee status - whether through the normal process or as a programme refugee
  • You have been granted temporary leave to remain on humanitarian grounds, having been in the asylum process
  • You have been granted leave to remain as the parent of an Irish citizen
  • You have specific immigration permission to live and work in Ireland - see 'Renewal of work permits' above
  • You have business permission to set up a business in Ireland
  • You are a registered student - see below

Refusal of work permits

You will be refused a work permit where you:

  • Entered the state on the basis that you are not taking up employment, for example, as a visitor
  • Are in the state illegally or you no longer comply with the conditions under which you were admitted
  • Have been asked by the Department of Justice and Equality to leave the state
  • Are in the process of being deported
  • Are seeking employment with a non-European Economic Area/Swiss employer who is operating in the state without business permission from the Minister for Justice and Equality

Students

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 work permit or Green Card 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.

Other categories

  • There are special arrangements for work permit applications for sports professionals (players only), nurses and doctors
  • A person on a working holiday authorisation is not permitted to transfer over to a work permit
  • Apart from some long-standing asylum seekers, people applying for refugee status in Ireland are not entitled to work at all

Rates

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.

Fees for first applications and renewals of work permits received before 1 June 2009

Duration of work permit Amount
Up to 6 months €500
Up to 2 years €1,000
2 to 3 years (renewal only) €1,500

Fees for new applications for work permits received on or after 1 June 2009

Duration of work permit Amount
Up to 6 months €500
Up to 2 years €1,000

Fees for renewals of new work permits received on or after 1 June 2009

Duration of renewal Amount
Up to 6 months €750
Up to 3 years €1,500

Since 19 November 2012 the fee for the GNIB Certificate of Registration is €300 (€150 previously).

How to apply

New applications for work permits 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 employment permit application form (pdf) or the new single eform (pdf). Both forms includes a list of the supporting documentation required.

Processing and appeals: 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 a refusal decision within 21 days. Your appeal will be considered by a separate and more senior official. If your appeal is refused, you are not prohibited from making a new application.

Renewal of work permits: Either an employer or an employee can apply for a renewal using the renewal application form (pdf) or the new single eform (pdf).

If an employer applies for a work permit in respect of a former employee who has left the state, this will be considered a new application.

There is further information about Work Permit Employment Permits on the Department's website.

Where to apply

Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation

Employment Permits Section
Davitt House
65a Adelaide Road
Dublin 2
Ireland

Opening Hours:Helpline only: Monday to Friday 9:30am - 5pm
Tel:+353 1 417 5333
Locall:1890 201 616
Fax:+353 1 631 3268
Homepage: http://www.djei.ie/labour/workpermits/index.htm
Email: employmentpermits@djei.ie

Immigration: Long-term Residence Division

Department of Justice and Equality
Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service
P.O. Box 12079
Dublin 1
Ireland

Homepage: http://www.inis.gov.ie
Email: INISLongTermRes@justice.ie

Page updated: 22 September 2014

Language

Gaeilge

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Contact Us

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.