General Employment Permit

Introduction

If you are from a country that is not in the European Economic Area (the EU, plus Norway, Iceland and Lichtenstein), the UK or Switzerland, you need permission to work in Ireland. In most cases, this means you have to apply for an employment permit.

The General Employment Permit allows you to work in occupations where there is a labour shortage in Ireland. You can get the permit to work in any job that is not on the Ineligible List of Occupations for Employment Permits, and subject to the other qualifying criteria.

You apply for it before you come to Ireland in most cases. You may also have to apply for a visa to come to Ireland.

Once you have arrived in Ireland, you have to register and get an Irish Residence Permit.

There are other types of employment permit issued by DETE.

Employment permits and COVID-19

The Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment has changed how employment permits are issued and renewed during COVID-19. You can read about these changes in our document Immigration and employment permits during COVID-19.

Who is eligible for a General Employment Permit?

You or your employer must apply for the employment permit before you come to Ireland.

If you already live in Ireland and have a valid Irish Residence Permit (IRP) with Stamp 1, 1A, 2, 2A or 3 permission, you can apply for the permit without leaving Ireland to apply. Stamp 4 holders do not need an employment permit to work. If your Stamp 4 permission is coming to an end and you cannot renew it, you can apply for an employment permit.

You or your employer can apply for a General Employment Permit if you are offered a job that satisfies the conditions below:

  • Pays at least €30,000 per year (see below for exceptions)
  • Is not on the list of ineligible occupations
  • A Labour Market Needs Test has been carried out by the employer
  • Over 50% of the workforce in the company or organisation are EU citizens (this is called the 50/50 rule)

Pay

The job must have a minimum annual salary of €30,000.

You can also apply if your annual salary is €27,000 and you are:

  • A non-EEA student who has graduated in the last 12 months from an Irish third-level institution, and you have been offered a graduate position from the Critical skills Occupations List
  • A non-EEA student who has graduated in the last 12 months, from an overseas third level institution, and you have been offered a graduate position as an ICT professional from the Critical Skills Occupations List
  • Offered a job as a 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
  • Offered a job as a healthcare assistant (you must get a Level 5 QQI qualification within 2 years of starting your job)

Your annual salary must be €30,000 when you apply for a renewal of the permit.

Eligible jobs

You can apply for a General Employment Permit for any job that is not on the Ineligible List of Occupations for Employment Permits. The employer must be trading in Ireland, registered with Revenue and with the Companies Registration Office.

You must have the qualifications, skills and experience required for the job.

The employer must have carried out a Labour Market Needs Test (see below) and more than 50% of the existing workers in the company must be from the EEA (see ‘The 50:50 rule’ below).

Job offer

You must have been offered a job to apply for an employment permit.

General Employment Permit applications from recruitment agencies and other intermediaries are not acceptable. Your employer cannot deduct recruitment expenses from your pay or retain your personal documents.

Labour Market Needs Test

Employers must show that they have tried to fill the vacancy with an Irish or EEA citizen. They do this by advertising the job in Ireland and within the EU for a reasonable period. If they cannot find a suitable candidate for the job then the employer can recruit a worker that needs an employment permit. This is called a Labour Market Needs Test.

The employment permit applicant must prove that a Labour Market Needs Test has been carried out.

How does the Labour Market Needs Test work?

The employer must advertise the vacancy in all of the following:

  • The Department of Social Protection (DSP) and European Employment Services (EURES) for at least 4 weeks
  • A national newspaper for at least 3 days
  • A local newspaper or a jobs website (in addition to DSP and EURES) for 3 days

The vacancy must include the employer’s name, a description of the job, the yearly salary, where the job will be located and the number of hours per week.

You have to wait until the Labour Market Needs Test is finished before applying for your employment permit. The application must be made within 90 days of the job being advertised with the DSP and EURES.

Labour Market Needs Test not required

All new applications must be accompanied by evidence that the Labour Market Needs Test has been carried out, with the following exceptions:

  • You previously held an employment permit and were made redundant and you have notified DETE that you were made redundant.
  • The job is listed on the Critical Skills Occupations List.
  • The job has been recommended by Enterprise Ireland or IDA Ireland.
  • You have been working as a carer for a person with exceptional medical needs and they have become dependent on you.
  • The job pays more than €64,000 per year.

The ‘50:50’ rule

DETE does not issue employment permits for jobs in businesses where at the time of application more than 50% of workers are from outside the EEA. This is called the ‘50:50’ rule.

There are some exceptions:

  • Where the company is new (registered with Revenue as an employer in the past 2 years) and has a letter of support from Enterprise Ireland or IDA Ireland. This only applies to companies that are clients of Enterprise Ireland or IDA Ireland.
  • Employment permits that were granted before 1 October 2014.
  • Where you will be the only employee of the company.

How to apply

Either you or the employer can apply for a General Employment Permit to the Employment Permits Section of the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment.

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.

Either you or your employer must pay a fee of €1,000. If your application is refused you will get 90% of your application fee back.

After you have applied

The application processing times are on the Department’s website. If your application is refused, you must be given the specific reasons it was refused. You can appeal this decision within 28 days, using the form to submit a decision for review.

Immigration and registration

If your application is successful and you live outside of Ireland, you still have to apply for a visa to enter Ireland if you are from a country whose citizens need a visa to enter Ireland. You must present your employment permit to the immigration officer in the airport or port of entry to Ireland.

You must register with your local registration office in the area where you intend to live when you arrive in Ireland. Once you are registered, you will get an Irish Residence Permit (IRP).

If you are already living in Ireland on another immigration permission, you must go to your local registration office to change your registration permission.

Your family

People who have a General Employment Permit can bring their family to live with them in Ireland after 1 year has passed since the permit was issued. You have to show that you can support them, by earning more than the limits for Working Family Payment.

Family are from a country whose citizens need a visa to enter Ireland: they must all apply for separate visas.

Family are from a country whose citizens do not need a visa to enter Ireland: they must show proof that they are the family members of a General Employment Permit holder to an immigration officer in the airport or port where they enter Ireland.

Registration and work

Your spouse or de-facto partner and any child aged 16 and over must register and get an IRP.

They must apply for an employment permit to work in Ireland.

Applying for a Stamp 4 after 5 years

General Employment Permits are issued for a maximum period of 2 years. If you renew your permit, you can get a permit for a maximum period of 3 years.

You renew the permit using the Employment Permit Online System (EPOS). You should apply within 16 weeks before your current permit is due to expire.

When you have completed 5 years on a General Employment Permit you can apply to ISD for a Stamp 4 permission. Stamp 4 holders can work without an employment permit. After 5 years residence, you may also apply for citizenship by naturalisation.

Changing or losing your job

Changing your job

If this is your first employment permit in Ireland then you must stay with your employer for 12 months (unless there are exceptional circumstances). After that, you can change employer if you make a new application for a General Employment Permit.

Losing your job

If you are made redundant you should notify the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation using the redundancy notification form within 28 days of dismissal. The Department will allow you 6 months to find another job. When you find another job, you can apply for a new General Employment Permit even if the job is now in one of the ineligible categories.

You must contact your local immigration registration office to confirm your immigration status. If you have more than 6 months before your immigration permission expires, you can reside in Ireland for 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 IRP. If you have not found a new job after 6 months you may have to leave Ireland.

If you then get an offer of employment in Ireland, you can apply for a new employment permit.

Fees

The fee for a General Employment Permit must be paid by the applicant. The applicant can be the employer, the employee, a connected person or contractor, or an authorised agent. 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 registering with immigration and getting an IRP is €300.

You can read more about fees for employment permits on the DETE website.

Contacts

Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment

Employment Permits Section

Earlsfort Centre
Lower Hatch Street
Dublin 2
D02 PW01
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

Immigration: Long-term Residence Division

Department of Justice

Immigration Service Delivery
P.O. Box 12079
Dublin 1
Ireland

Page edited: 17 June 2021