Types of employment permits
Most non-EEA nationals must have an employment permit to work in Ireland. If you have moved to Ireland to join a family member, or you have been granted residence in Ireland by the Minister for Justice, you may be allowed to work without an employment permit.
Employment permits are processed by the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment (DETE). Usually, you apply for the employment permit when you have been offered a job. You must get your employment permit before you come to Ireland in most cases. You can apply for the employment permit yourself, or your employer can apply for you.
Your spouse or partner also needs an employment permit to work, unless you have a Critical Skills Employment Permit, General Employment Permit for doctors (Stamp 1H) or are covered under a Hosting Agreement.
There are 9 different types of employment permits administered by DETE and a special Hosting Agreement for academic researchers administered by the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science. The most common employment permits are the General Employment Permit and the Critical Skills Employment Permit.
The employment permits scheme is governed by the Employment Permits Acts 2003–2014.
Which employment permit should I apply for?
If you are not sure which permit to apply for, you can use DETE’s application guide.
Critical Skills Employment Permit
You can apply for a Critical Skills Employment Permit if you are offered a job in a profession that is either:
- Paying at least €32,000 per year and on the Critical Skills Occupation List
- Paying €64,000 per year and is not on the list of ineligible occupations
The Critical Skills Employment Permit is for skilled workers who are qualified in professions where there is a shortage of skills in Ireland. You must have a relevant third level qualification, but for some types of job, you may be eligible with a lesser qualification or if you have the required practical experience to do the job.
Your prospective employer must offer you at least a 2-year employment contract.
Your family can join you in Ireland immediately. Your spouse or partner can get a Stamp 1G Irish Residence Permit, which allows them to work without an employment permit. After 2 years of working on a Critical Skills EP in Ireland, you can apply for a Stamp 4 Irish Residence Permit, which allows you to work without an employment permit.
General Employment Permit
You can apply for a General Employment Permit if you are offered a job that is:
- Paying at least €30,000 per year (see below for exceptions)
- Not in a profession on the list of ineligible occupations
- For a business where more than half of the workers are from outside the EEA. This is called the 50:50 rule.
The company or business must be already trading in Ireland and registered with the Companies Register Office and Revenue.
Your family can join you in Ireland after your first year of employment. Your spouse or partner must apply for an employment permit to work in Ireland. If you are a doctor working for the HSE or a HSE funded service and you have a Stamp 1H, your spouse or partner can apply for a Stamp 1G. This allows them to work without an employment permit.
If you get a General Employment Permit, you can apply for a visa to come to Ireland (if you need a visa to enter Ireland). After 5 years you can apply for a Stamp 4 Irish Residence Permit, which allows you to work without an employment permit. If you are a doctor working for the HSE or a HSE funded agency and have a Stamp 1H, you can get a Stamp 4 after 2 years.
Labour Market Needs Test
The employer must have tried to fill the post with an Irish or EEA citizen. They must show that they have advertised the job with EURES and the Department of Social Protection (DSP) for at least 4 weeks. They must also advertise the job in a national newspaper for at least 3 days, and in a local paper or online recruitment agency (that is not a DSP or EURES website) for 3 days. There are some exceptions to when a Labour Market Needs Test is needed.
The pay must be at least €30,000 per year, with the following exceptions:
- €27,000 if you have graduated from a third level college in Ireland in the past 12 months and are offered a graduate job on the Critical Skills Occupation List.
- €27,000 if you have graduated from a third level college overseas in the past 12 months and are offered a graduate job as an ICT professional on the Critical Skills Occupation List.
- €27,000 if the employer needs a person who is fluent in an official language of a non-EEA country, and the job is in customer service, online digital marketing or sales, or sales support. This only applies where the employment is supported by an enterprise development agency.
- €27,000 for healthcare assistants.
- €27,500 for jobs as boners of meat
Dependant, Partner, Spouse Employment Permit
If you have a Critical Skills Employment Permit or you are a researcher under a Hosting Agreement, your spouse or de-facto partner will not need an employment permit to work in Ireland. However, your dependants will need an employment permit and can apply for a Dependant, Partner, Spouse Employment Permit.
Spouses, dependants or partners of General Employment Permit holders are not eligible for a Dependant, Partner, Spouse Employment Permit and must apply for an employment permit in their own right.
Contract for Service Employment Permit
If you are working for a company that has a contract with an Irish business or body to carry out work in Ireland, your employer can apply for a Contract for Service Employment Permit. You must have been working for the contractor (the business abroad that has been granted the contract) for at least 6 months.
The Permit is only valid for as long as needed to carry out the contracted work. You cannot stay in Ireland for more than 5 years on a Contract for Service Employment Permit. For short contracts of less than 3 months, you should apply for the Atypical Working Scheme.
The following rules apply:
- The contractor must be registered with Revenue.
- At least half of the employees of the contractor or the company that the contract is with must be EEA citizens.
- A Labour Market Needs Test is needed in most cases.
- The minimum pay rate is €40,000 per year.
Sport and Cultural Employment Permit
You can apply for a Sport and Cultural Employment Permit for jobs in the sport and cultural sectors in Ireland.
You must have the specific skills and relevant qualifications to work in a sporting or cultural business or organisation.
Intra-Company Transfer Employment Permits
You can apply for an Intra-Company Transfer Employment Permit if you work for a multinational company and you are transferred to the company’s Irish branch. The Permit is for:
- Senior managers earning at least €40,000 per year
- Key personnel who have specialist knowledge, earning at least €40,000 per year
- Trainees earning at least €30,000 per year
Senior managers and key personnel must have worked for the company for at least 6 months before the planned transfer. Trainees must have worked for the company for at least one month.
Exchange Agreement Employment Permit
You can apply for an Exchange Agreement Employment Permit if you are coming to Ireland through one of the following programmes:
- The International Association for the Exchange of Students for Technical Experience (IAESTE)
- The Fulbright Programme
- The Bord Bia exchange agreement between St Joseph’s University, Philadelphia and UCC for food marketing students
- Vulcanus in Europe Programme (Ireland)
Permits are for a maximum period of 12 months.
Internship Employment Permit
If you are a full-time student in a college outside of the EEA, you can apply for an Internship Employment Permit to get work experience in Ireland.
The following rules apply:
Reactivation Employment Permit
You can apply for a Reactivation Employment Permit if you were working in Ireland with an employment permit, and you became undocumented through no fault of your own, or you were badly treated by your employer.
You must apply to Immigration Services Delivery for permission to be in Ireland. If your application is successful, you can register with immigration and apply for the Reactivation Employment Permit. You must have an offer of employment. The job must pay the minimum wage or above, and there are no restrictions on the type of job you can apply for
Seasonal Employment Permit
The Government has announced a new Seasonal Employment Permit. This permit is included in the Employment Permits Bill (pdf) which has now been published.
The Bill must be passed by the Oireachtas (the Irish parliament) before becoming law.
Hosting Agreement for academic researchers
If you are a non-EEA researcher, you can apply to carry out paid research in an accredited organisation under the fast track work permit for Non-EU R&D personnel (Hosting Agreement) scheme. EURAXESS Ireland processes the applications for the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science.
You must have:
- A contract for a minimum of 3 months
- Salary of €23,811 per year (€30,000 if you have dependants)
- The appropriate higher education qualification that entitles you to access doctoral programmes
You can find out more about the Scheme on the EURAXESS website.
Further information and contacts
For short-term contracts, you can apply for the Atypical Working Scheme.
You can read about coming to Ireland to work.