Right to Work
EEA and Swiss Citizens
Citizens from EU member states, one of the countries of the EEA (The EEA includes EU countries and also Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway), or Switzerland are entitled to work in Ireland without an employment permit. They are also entitled to have their dependents come to live with them in Ireland. A non-EEA spouse or civil partner who is coming to live in Ireland must apply for permission to remain under EU Treaty Rights in order to have similar rights to live and work in Ireland.
EEA and Swiss nationals are entitled to be treated in the same way as Irish citizens when they apply for work in Ireland. They are free to apply for any job vacancy, including jobs in the public sector. These include jobs in the Irish army and the Irish police force, but not the Irish diplomatic service.
There is a system of mutual recognition of qualifications between the EEA countries.
Citizens of other countries generally need an employment permit, although the below categories do not:
- Citizens of the EEA member states and Switzerland, and their spouses, civil partners, and dependents (regardless of their nationality)
- People who have been granted refugee status in Ireland
- People who have been refused refugee status but have been given permission to remain on humanitarian grounds
- People who have been given permission to remain because they are the spouse, civil partner or parent of an Irish citizen
- Postgraduate students where the work is an integral part of the course of study being undertaken
- Non-EEA nationals carrying out scientific research for an approved research organization
- The Van der Elst process generally allows a non-EEA national, legally employed by a company in an EU country, to provide services on a temporary basis to a company in another EU country on behalf of his/her employer without the need to obtain an employment permit
- The Atypical Working Scheme allows eligible non-EEA nationals to do certain short-term contract work in Ireland
Working holiday authorizations
Working holiday authorizations may be issued to nationals of Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Argentina, Chile, Hong Kong, USA, Taiwan and South Korea as part of a reciprocal agreement between these countries and Ireland.
The new employment permit is given to the employee. The permit contains a statement of the rights and entitlements of the worker. The statement of rights includes the information about when and how the worker may change employment. The statement also includes details of pay, rights under the national minimum wage legislation and any deductions which it is proposed to make from that pay – for example, for accommodation. The national minimum wage legislation allows for certain deductions to be made from the statutory minimum pay of an employee if the employee is provided with board and/or lodgings.
Employers are not allowed to deduct expenses associated with recruitment from the employee’s pay and are not allowed retain any of the worker’s personal documents.
There are general rules which apply to all employment permits. Since 1 October 2014, there are 9 types of employment permit. They include the Critical Skills Employment Permit for highly skilled workers and the General Employment Permit which have replaced the work permit and Green Card permit respectively. Either the prospective employee or prospective employer may apply for the permit.
Critical skills employment permit
Occupations such as ICT professionals, professional engineers and technologists are catered for under this type of employment permit. Eligible occupations are largely determined in line with the regular analyses of the Expert Group on Future Skills Needs with regard to the labour market requirements in respect of strategically important skills. The list of eligible occupations is set out in the Highly Skilled Eligible Occupations List.
Irish Work Permits Salary Requirement
Job positions where the remuneration is above €30,000 qualify for work permits. In exceptional circumstances, work permits may also be considered where the remuneration is less than 30,000 from eligible non–EEA graduates and from applicants with a fluency in a non-EEA language, to companies with formal support from the State enterprise development agencies.
As well as your Irish Work Permit we can arrange your Irish work visa. Visa First can help you organise all the documents you need to start working and living in Ireland.
How to apply
Applications for employment permits can be made by you or your prospective employer to the Employment Permits Section of the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation using the Employment Permits Online System (EPOS).
If you are in Ireland and you need English translations of documents you can contact the embassy or consulate of your country for assistance.
An application for any employment permit must be received at least 12 weeks before the proposed employment start date.
An application can be made online on the Employment Permits Online System. There is a User Guide available on the online system which guides the applicant through the process and details the documentary requirements for each employment permit type.
There are up to three stages in the passage of an employment permit application:
- Application Received (Awaiting Processing): Once an application is submitted and the associated fees, if appropriate, are recorded the application is then placed in the relevant processing queue depending on the Employer type i.e. Trusted Partner or Standard. Please note that applications are processed strictly in date order by Employer Type and applicants can keep track of our current processing dates. They can also check the progress of their specific application online on our new Online Status Update Enquiry facility.
- Processing Stage: This stage is where the application is considered by a decision maker, an official with decision making authority. The processor may request additional information, if required, which should be returned within 28 days. The processor will then either grant an application or refuse it for specific reasons.
- Review: Where an applicant wishes a refusal decision to be reviewed then he/she may do so within 28 days on the prescribed Submission of a Decision for Review Form. The review will be considered by a separate and more senior official. The confirmation of a refusal decision on review does not preclude the applicant from submitting a new application following all of the relevant procedures for the specific employment permit type.
The processing fee for a Critical Skills Employment Permit is €1,000. If an application is unsuccessful then 90% of the fee will be refunded. While the fee may be paid by a third party, current policy restricts refunds to applicants only (e.g. if the applicant was an employee and the employer paid the fee, then the refund will still issue to the employee). Detailed information on fee requirements and certain waivers can be found on our Fees for Employment Permits page.
Where the employer is the applicant, in accordance with section 23 of the Employment Permits Act 2006, the employer may not make any deductions from the remuneration of, or seek to recover from, the holder of the employment permit concerned any charge, fee or expense related to the application.
Refusal of employment permit: If you are refused an employment permit, you may ask for an internal review. You should ask for a review within 21 days of being notified of a refusal.
Employers who want to employ people who need employment permits have to meet certain requirements. They must be legally trading in Ireland – this means they must be registered with Revenue and with the Companies Registration Office (CRO) if the employer is a company. You can check the registration at the CRO at cro.ie
The employer must employ you directly – this means that applications from recruitment agencies, agents, intermediaries or companies who intend to outsource or subcontract you to work in another company are not accepted.
Employees who have employment permits are obliged to abide by the immigration rules. This means that you may need a visa in order to come here and you must register with the immigration authorities.
Critical Skills Employment Permit: The fee for an application is €1,000.
Fees for General Employment Permit applications and intra-company transfer:
For a period of up to 6 months €500
For between 6 months and 2 years
Prerequisites to apply for an employment 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 Employment Affairs and Social Protection (DEASP) employment services/EURES employment network for 2 weeks, 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.
If you are from a country whose nationals normally require an employment permit and you are studying in Ireland on an approved course, you may take up casual work – a maximum of 20 hours a week in term time and full time during the holidays – without an employment permit.
The Third Level Graduate Scheme (pdf) allows non-EEA students who have graduated on or after 1 January 2007 with a level 7 degree to remain in Ireland for 6 months. Those with a degree at levels 8-10 can remain for 12 months. This allows them to find employment and apply for a General or Critical Skills Employment Permit.