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.
The Employment Permits (Amendment) Act 2014 (pdf) is to be commenced in September 2014. The Act's provisions reforming the current employment permits system include 9 different types of employment permit and changes to the criteria for issuing employment permits. It 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.
Since 22 July 2013 further changes to the rules for work permit applications include:
These changes are in addition to the changes to the rules for work permit applications which came into effect on 10 April 2013.
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.
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.
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:
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. 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.
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.
Since 10 April 2013 work 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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
If you are a non-EEA national you do not need a work permit if:
You will be refused a work 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 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.
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).
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.
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.
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.