Employment Permits Explained

If you are a non-EU citizen and you want to take up employment as your main activity in Ireland, you will probably need an Employment Permit.
If you are a non-EU citizen and you want to take up employment as your main activity in Ireland, you will probably need an Employment Permit.

In this article we discuss:

  • Do I need a permit?
  • How can I apply for an Employment Permit?
  • What categories of Employment Permits are available?
  • I got the permit, what's next?

Do I need an Employment Permit?

If you are a non-EU/EEA/Swiss national and you want to take up employment as your main activity in Ireland, in the most typical of circumstances you will need an Employment Permit.

Whether you need an Employment Permit depends on your nationality. You can check your visa status on our Visa Check page.

How can I apply for an Employment Permit

To begin the Employment Permit application process you have to receive a job offer from an Irish-based employer in the first place.

Employment Permits are issued by the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation (DBEI). Employment Permits can be requested from the Employment Permits Section of the DBEI via the Employment Permits Online System (EPOS).

An application for an employment permit must be made at least 12 weeks before the start date of the employment.

What categories of Employment Permits are available?

There are several categories of Employment Permits. Probably the most common types are Critical Skills Employment Permits and General Employment Permits.

Critical Skills Employment Permit

This category of permit is reserved for occupations listed on the Critical Skills Occupations List. These occupations are considered to be in high demand in Ireland.

Here is a summary of the other main criteria of eligibility for this type of permit:

  • The contract must be for a period of 2 years. If it is shorter than 2 years, you will be eligible to apply for the General Employment Permit.
  • You are obliged to remain with the initial employer for at least 1 year.
  • The minimum salary level is €30,000 and you are required to hold at least a third-level qualification.
  • If the salary is over €60,000, the Critical Skills Occupations List does not apply, however you are still not allowed to take up any of the occupations that are listed on the Ineligible Categories of Employment List. You also need to show that you have the relevant skills and experience to undertake the employment in question.
  • There is a €1,000 visa application fee that is 90% refundable if the application is unsuccessful
  • In the case of Critical Skills Permit the Labour Market Needs Test does not apply.

Critical Skills Employment Permit offers some distinct advantages:

  • Dependants/Partners/Spouses of a holder of Critical Skills Permit are eligible to apply for a work permit. That permit is free of charge and does not offer any restrictions as to type of Employment that can be taken up.
  • A holder of a Critical Skills Permit after completing two years of employment is eligible to receive a Stamp 4 immigration permission that lifts the Employment Permit requirement altogether.

General Employment Permit

You can apply for a permit under this broad category as long as your occupation is not listed on the Ineligible Categories of Employment. The employer will also need to satisfy the Labour Market Needs Test before the permit is issued, which means that the employer was unsuccessful in finding an EU/EEA/Swiss candidate for the advertised position.

Here are some important details concerning the General Employment Permit:

  • First permit can be issued for a period of up to two years and then extended for another three.
  • After completing a total of five years of employment the permit holder can apply for long term residency.
  • In principal, the minimum salary of €30,000 applies but there are some exceptions to this rule with respect to eligible graduates.
  • All occupations listed on the Critical Skills Occupations List where the contract is for a period of 12 months are eligible under the General Employment Permit category.
  • Dependants/Partners/Spouses are not eligible for a work permit under this arrangement.
  • 90% refundable processing fees apply for new permits and renewals. A fee for a new employment permit of up to 6 months is €500 whereas a renewal costs €750. A new employment permit fee for 6 to 24 months is €1,000 whereas a renewal for the period of 6 to 36 months is €1,500.

Other Permit categories

  • Exchange Agreement Employment Permit -- Applicable for employment permits issued in relation to international reciprocal agreements.
  • Internship Employment Permit -- This category of permit can be issued to full-time students enrolled in third-level courses outside of Ireland in order to take up an internship with an Irish based employer. Both the course and the internship role have to be linked to the occupations identified in the Critical Skills Occupations List.
  • Dependant/Partner/Spouse Employment Permit -- A dependant, partner, or spouse of a Critical Skills Employment Permit holder or a Researcher can avail of this category of permit.
  • Sport and Cultural Employment Permit -- Facilitates employment of foreign nationals with skills and experience applicable to sporting and cultural activities.
  • Reactivation Employment Permit -- This type of permit is used to facilitate a return to legal work for a foreign national who initially held a valid work permit but fell out of the system through mistreatment or exploitation.

Your employer may also submit a request for the following permit categories:

  • Contract for Services Employment Permit -- For contract work to provide services to an Irish company by a non-EU/EEA/Swiss employee.
  • Intra-Company Transfer Employment Permit -- Facilitates moving of key personnel from a branch oversees to an Irish branch.

I have my permit, what’s next?

The next steps will depend on your particular situation. If you are in your home country, you will need to determine if you need to apply for an Entry Visa to Ireland.

Don't forget that obtaining an Employment Permit does not guarantee that you will be allowed into Ireland. Although in most cases this is just a formality, the Immigration Officer at the port of entry will review your documents and make a decision if you are permitted to enter the state. In order to avoid any unpleasant surprises, make sure that you have all the documents and permits in perfect order.

Once you are in Ireland you will need to register with the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) where your employment permit will be validated and your passport stamped with the relevant immigration permission. As a final step you will receive the Irish Residence Permit (IRP) via registered mail posted to your Irish address.