Work permits in Ireland

To date, all non-EEA nationals must hold a work permit to operate in Ireland. However, EEA and Swiss nationals are not required to have this permit. The Employment Permits Act 2003-2014 outlines the nine types of employment permits which include:

  • General Employment Permit;
  • Critical skills employment permit;
  • Dependent/partner/spouse employment permit. 

From 1st October 2014, the Employment Permits (Amendment) Act 2014 was altered the legacy system for employment permits. Currently, there at least nine variations of employment permits characterised by a new form for application of each variety and changes to the criteria for providing employment permits. The Act also stipulates that in the context of foreign nationals lacking employment permits but have deliberate efforts to follow all the steps, they may take civil action against their employers to access payment for work done or rendered services.


General Employment Permits are provided by the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and innovation. Based on an employment offer received, the employer or employee may apply for the permit. Conventionally, the permits are provided to employee and they outline their respective rights and entitlements. With the permit, the employees have equal rights as any Irish or EEA citizens within the timespan of their employment.

In applying for General Employment Permits, the yearly compensation must be at least €30,000. This includes both the salary and health insurance.

For applicants with a remuneration of €27,000+ annually, they are contextualized as exceptional based on the following factors.

Non-EEA students who have completed studies in the last year at an Irish tertiary learning institution and have an offer for a graduate job within the highly skilled occupation list.

Non-EEA students who have completed studies in the past year an Irish third level learning institution and have an offer as a professional in the field of ICT within the highly skilled occupation list.

Applications for specialist language support and technical sales support with a mastery in a non-EEA language for institutions who receive support from State enterprise development agencies.

The yearly pay must be at least €30,000 prior to making a request of renewal of the permit.

For Non-EEA citizens, possessing a stamp 1, 1A, 2A or 3 residence permission, they are allowed to make applications for General Employment Permit only if their respective job is not categorized as ineligible occupations.

Job offers

You have to meet the qualifications, possess the skills and experience needed for the job. You must be employed directly and access payment from your employer. General Employment Permit applications made by recruitment agencies and other third parties are prohibited. The employer must be operating and transacting in Ireland, registered with revenue and a with the company’s registration office. Employers are not allowed to make deductions on recruitment expenses from the remuneration or employees nor keep personal documents.

A General Employment Permit is not provided to companies where in the process of issuance, the company will be composed of over 50% non-EAA national’s employees. However, in the case of start-up companies or where applicant will be the only employee, the provision may be abandoned.

Labor market needs test

It is a requirement that all the new applicants for General Employment Permits attach evidence demonstrating that a labor market needs has been undertaken.

Waivers: From 1st October 2014, the pre-requisite for a labor market needs test has been abandoned where the application.

  • Belongs to a former permit holder who has been subjected to redundancy or
  • Is designed for a job classified as highly skilled occupation list or
  • A recommendation has been made by the Enterprise Ireland or IDA Ireland or
  • Relates to a profession with an established history of catering for the sick or
  • Relates to a job with an annual salary of or exceeding €60,000

The requirements for the test is that a vacancy must be advertised at least two weeks with the Department of Social Protection (‘DSP’) employment services/EURES employment network, in a national newspaper for three days or more or a local newspaper or job posting sites for 3 days. This strategy is designed to prevent EEA or Swiss national from filling the vacancy. Primarily, the employers are obligated to highlight that the vacancy is a potential General Employment Permit application on registering the vacancy with the DSP/EURES.

Where employer cannot find an EEA or Swiss national, they need to communicate with their local employment office or Interop centre within a period of four weeks to request decision on the vacancy. The employer services office in response to the request will establish if the General Employment Permit is necessary in filling the vacancy. Where the employer fails to contact the office, the advertisement will proceed but there will be no employment permits provided for the vacancy.

Occupations that are ineligible for employment permits

Employment permits are inaccessible for occupations documented under the heading “Ineligible Employment” on the ineligible classification of employment (this list provides exceptions for some careers).

Nonetheless, applicants seeking the Dependent/Partner/Spouse and the Reactivation Employment permit scheme may access employment permits for the professions excepting those undertaking in a domestic context (excluding some careers) adverse to public interest.

Duration and renewal

A General Employment Permit is initially provided for a period of 2 year subsequently followed by a 3-year renewal. Upon working for at least five years in Ireland, an individual does not need a work permit anymore. In the even the stamp 1 permission is due for renewal, the local migration officers -see “registration” below – will provide a stamp 4 registration permission for a period of one year which will facilitate access to employment excepting self-employment

For an individual living and working legally in Ireland for at least five years on work permits, they are eligible for apply for long-term residency to the Irish Naturalization and Immigration Service (‘INIS’)- see “Where to apply” below. Applications for exemption from the requirement to access and employment permit is feasible. Upon approval of the extended residence permission and individual may reside and work in Ireland for five years without needing a work permit.

Changing employment

Upon acquiring a job on your first permit, you are obligated to work for the employer for at least 12 months (unless in exceptional conditions). Subsequently, you may shift to a new employer considering that a new General Employment Permit application has been made for a job of the same kind or other eligible employment.

Losing your job

In cases where a job is lost due to redundancy, the Department of jobs, Enterprise and innovation must be notified through the redundancy notification form not exceeding 28 days since dismissal. The provisions for non-EEA workers include.

Employment permit for 5 years

In cases where redundancy experienced after working in Ireland for five years consecutively using employment permits, the permits to work in Ireland will no longer be needed.

Employment permit for less than 5 years

The Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation provides a grace period of six months to seek a job. On finding a job, you are required to apply for a new General Employment Permit but the labor market needs test will be disregarded.  Where redundancy takes place in a job on the list of ineligible classifications, one may make an application for a new General Employment Permit for a job on the ineligible list.

You should communicate with your immigration officer to ascertain your immigration status-see “registration” below. Where their time exceeding six months before expiry of immigration permission, you may seek residence in Ireland under stamp 1 permission for another six months. If the duration is less than six months, you may seek immigration permission to extend by a further six months, in this context you will need a new certificate of registration –see “Rates” below. If you can’t secure a job within the next six months, you will be expected to leave Ireland. If you get a job in Ireland you will be required to apply for a new General Employment Permit

Short-time working: Where you have been put on short-time working under a General Employment Permit you must provide notification to the Department of jobs, Enterprise and innovation. Failure to communicate may affect future prospects of accessing a permit.


All entry visas are applied for online for nationals who require a visa, which should be obtained before travel.

Registration and permission to remain

Non-EEA nationals (excluding Switzerland) must seek registration with the local migration officer within the areas where they plan to stay upon arriving on state. Registration within Dubliner is undertaken at Burgh Quay Registration Office. From 15th September 2016, it is a requirement to make online appointments before paying a visit to the office. In areas outside Dublin, registration takes place at the regional registration office or at the local Garda District Headquarters.


Upon legally working for a year in Ireland under a General Employment Permit, you may bring your family. You must demonstrate the ability to support the family. This implies earnings that exceed the limits for family income supplement.

With access to a General Employment Permit your wife, partner or other dependents cannot make applications for the Dependent/Partner/Spouse Employment Permit. However, they are eligible to apply for the General Employment Permit.   Travel visas to Ireland (see 'Visas' above) are required and there are guidelines put forth by INIS relating to family reunification among workers

Employment permit not necessary

If one is a non-EEA national, an employment permit is not required if:

  • You have been granted permission to live as spouse, civil partner or dependent of an Irish or EEA national;
  • You are a citizen from Switzerland;
  • Allowed under a refugee status (through normal process or programmed refugee);
  • In the asylum process hence granted temporary permission based on humanitarian reasons;
  • Permitted to remain as parent of an Irish citizen;
  • Particular permission to live and work in Ireland;
  • Permission to establish a business in Ireland;
  •  A registered student.

Refusal of employment permits

Contexts where employment permit may be denied:

  • State entry as a visitor and you are not seeking employment;
  • Failure to comply with conditions through which you were admitted making you an illegal;
  • Notification by the Department of Justice and Equality to exit the state;
  • Engaged in a deportation process;
  • Looking for work from an employer (non-European Economic Area/Swiss) who is illegally operating without permission from the Minister for Justice and Equality.