General Employment Permit
In general, non-EEA nationals must have an employment 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, including a General Employment Permit, a Critical Skills Employment Permit and a Dependant/Partner/Spouse Employment Permit. You can read about other types of permit in our overview document on employment permits.
There are 9 different types of employment permit with application forms for each type and specified criteria for issuing employment permits. The Act also provides that a foreign national without an employment permit, who took all reasonable steps to get one, can take civil action against their employer to compensate them for work done or services rendered.
Pilot agricultural scheme – Since 21 May 2018, new regulations allow for a General Employment Permit for horticulture workers, meat processing operatives and dairy farm assistants. Permits available are subject to quotas. Certain criteria must be met; (annual salary at least €22,000 based on 39-hour week, labour market test carried out and access to suitable accommodation and training). Further information is available in the employment permit checklist.
Employment permits and COVID-19
The Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation has made changes to how employment permits are issued and renewed during the COVID-19 emergency period. You can read about these changes in our document Immigration and employment permits during COVID-19.
General Employment Permits are issued by the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation. Either the employer or the employee can apply for a permit, which must be based on an offer of employment. Permits are issued to the employee and include a statement of the employee's rights and entitlements. An employee with an employment permit has all the employment rights of Irish or EEA citizens for the duration of the employment permit.
Generally applications for General Employment Permits must have a minimum annual remuneration (pay) of €30,000. Remuneration includes the salary for the job and health insurance.
Applications for jobs with annual pay of €27,000* are considered on an exceptional basis in the following cases:
- Non-EEA students 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 Eligible 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 for specialist language support and technical or sales support with a fluency in a non-EEA language for companies that are getting support from the State enterprise development agencies
* The annual pay must be €30,000 when applying for a renewal of the permit.
You must have the qualifications, skills and experience required for the job. You must be directly employed and paid by your employer. General Employment Permit applications from recruitment agencies and other intermediaries are not acceptable. The employer must be trading in Ireland, registered with Revenue and with the Companies Registration Office. Your employer cannot deduct recruitment expenses from your pay or retain your personal documents.
A General 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. However, this requirement may be waived in the case of start-up companies or where the applicant will be the only employee.
Labour market needs test
All new applications for General Employment Permits include evidence that a labour market needs test has been carried out.
Waivers: The requirement for a labour market needs test may be waived if the application:
- Is for a former permit holder who has been made redundant or
- Is for a job listed on the Highly Skilled Occupations List or
- Has been recommended by Enterprise Ireland or IDA Ireland or
- Is for a carer with a proven history of caring for the sick person or
- Is for a job with an annual salary of €60,000 or more
The test requires that the vacancy must have been advertised with the Department of Social Protection (DSP) employment services/EURES employment network for 4 weeks, (increased from 2 to 4 weeks in January 2020) 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 an EEA or Swiss national cannot be found to fill the vacancy. When registering the vacancy the employer must specify that the vacancy is a potential General Employment Permit application.
If the employer is 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 Employment Permit 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.
Occupations that are ineligible for employment permits
However, applicants for the Dependant/Partner/Spouse and the Reactivation Employment Permit Schemes can get employment permits for these occupations apart from those taking place in a domestic setting (except for certain carers) or contrary to public interest.
Duration and renewal
A General Employment 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 General Employment Permit has been made for a similar job, or to another eligible employment sector.
Losing your job
If you lose your job through redundancy, you should notify the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation using the redundancy notification form 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 Business, Enterprise and Innovation will allow you 6 months to find another job. When you find another job you have to apply for a new General Employment Permit but a labour market needs test is not required. If you were made redundant from a job on the list of ineligible categories, you may apply for a new General Employment 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 Certificate of Registration - 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 Employment Permit.
Short-time working: if you have been put on short-time working while on a work permit or a General Employment Permit, you must notify the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation. If you do not do this, any application to renew your permit in future may be affected.
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 you register at the Burgh Quay Registration Office. You must book an appointment online to visit it. Outside Dublin, you may register at your regional registration office or 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 Employment Permit. You also have to be able to show that you will be able to support them. In practice, you need to be earning more than the limits for Working Family Payment.
If you have a General Employment Permit your spouse, partner or dependants are not eligible to apply for a Dependant/Partner/Spouse Employment Permit. They can apply for a General Employment 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.
Employment permit not necessary
If you are a non-EEA national, you do not need an employment 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 permission to remain on humanitarian grounds, having been in the asylum process
- You have been granted permission to remain as the parent of an Irish citizen
- You have specific immigration permission to live and work in Ireland
- You have permission to set up a business in Ireland
- You are a registered student - see below
Refusal of employment permits
You will be refused an employment 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
The fee must be paid by the applicant. Either the employee or the employer can apply. 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 Employment Permits
|Duration of permit||Amount|
|Up to 6 months||€500|
|Up to 2 years||€1,000|
Fees for renewals of General Employment Permits
|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 Certificate of Registration is €300.
How to apply
New applications for General Employment Permits can be made by the prospective employer or employee 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). You can use the General Employment Permit checklist to help you apply.
Certain eligible chefs can apply for an employment permit (see exceptions in the ineligible employment list). You can use the employment permit checklist for chefs when applying.
Processing and reviews: You can check the status of your application through the online status enquiry facility and you can check application processing times. 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 of General Employment Permits: Either an employer or an employee can apply for a renewal using the Employment Permits Online System (EPOS) 16 weeks before the expiry of the permit.
If an employer applies for a General Employment Permit for 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.
Where to apply