Employment permits in Ireland-the essentials

The employment permit system in Ireland is administered by the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment (DETE).

Immigration control, on the other hand, is supervised by the Department of Justice through the Immigration Service Delivery (ISD) body.

Therefore, obtaining an employment permit does not automatically grant the right to enter the State but it would usually be the case that an employment permit will lead to a successful application for immigration permission. It is the Minister for Justice, pursuant to the Immigration Act, 2004 who is empowered to grant an immigration permission.

An employment permit holder must attend ISD to seek an immigration permission on foot of the employment permit. An Irish Residence Permit (IRP) card is then issued showing the permission that has been granted, the stamp type, and the duration of the permission. The person’s passport is stamped accordingly, and this constitutes registration of the permission granted.

The legal framework

The statutory framework touching upon employment permits includes the following acts:

·  The Employment Permits Act, 2003

·  The Immigration Act, 2004

·  The Employment Permits Act, 2006

·  The Employment Permit Regulations in 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 202, 2022, 2023.

The employment permits system

The Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment (DETE) maintains two lists:

1. The list of ineligible categories of employment for employment permits

2. The Highly Skilled Occupations list

A key rule of the system is the “50:50” rule which states at the time of an employment permit application at least 50% of the employees of the Irish business must be EEA/Swiss/UK nationals. This rule can be waived, however, in certain circumstances. This is the Labour Market Needs Test.

There is also a “12 month rule” which states that a new employment permit will not be granted to a foreign national if he has not completed 12 months employment with his first employer. There are exceptions to this rule-for example, redundancy.

The processing times for employment permit applications are published on the website of the DETE so it is easy to see when a permit might be issued.

Types of employment permit

1. The Critical Skills Employment Permit (CSEP)

Some key points about this permit include:

·  It is valid for 2 years

·  After 21 months an eligible employee can apply for a Stamp 4 permission which allows them to work for any employer in Ireland

·  Family members can join the worker in Ireland

·  The Labour Market Needs Test is not required

·  If the salary ranges from €32,000 to €63,999 the job must be on the DETE’s highly skilled list and the employee must have a relevant third level degree

·  If the salary exceeds €64,000 any job is eligible, provided it is not on the ineligible list, and no academic qualification is required

If you are eligible to apply for a General Employment Permit or Critical Skills Employment Permit go for the CSEP, if possible, as there are advantages to this permit over the General Employment Permit.

To reach the threshold amounts with respect to salary there are some other benefits which can be taken into account-for example, health insurance, accommodation (company paying the rent in a house for your stay).

2. The General Employment Permit (GEP)

·  Initial permit has no minimum duration

·  There are no specific education requirements

·  The initial permit can be extended up to a maximum of 5 years

·  Family members cannot joint the worker until she has completed 1 year of employment

·  The Labour Market Needs Test is applicable but there are 3 exceptions (the job is on the highly skilled list or the salary is over €64,000 or the job is backed by IDA Ireland or Enterprise Ireland

·  The standard minimum remuneration package is €30,000

3. The Intra Company Transfer Employment Permit (ICT)

This allows companies to transfer senior management and other key employees to transfer into Ireland. All occupations are eligible for an ICT permit, even jobs on the ineligible categories of employment.

The maximum time in Ireland is up to 5 years and there are no education requirements. All family members can join the worker in Ireland.

4. Other types of employment permit

Other types of employment permit include

  • Reactivation employment permit
  • Internship employment permit
  • Contract for services employment permit
  • Sport and cultural employment permit
  • Exchange agreement employment permit

5. Authorisations outside the employment permits system

The Atypical Working Scheme (AWS) was launched by the Department of Justice to cover short term sponsored work in Ireland which is not covered by the employment permits system. There are unique rules for doctors, nurses, fishermen and certain paid internships.


UK citizens have the right to travel and work in Ireland. Their Non-EEA family members should use the pre-clearance system operated by ISD if they are seeking to join their family member in Ireland.

There is a discrepancy between the IRP cards (1 year permissions) as opposed to the employment permit duration (2 years) which necessitates a renewal of the residency permission during the life of the employment permit.

Posted workers are workers who are either EU or non-EU nationals but have an employment contract in an EU country and they are being transferred to another EU country. The European Union (Posting of Workers) Regulations, 2016 and 2020 are the relevant regulations in Ireland.

A Vander Elst permission arises from a 1994 decision of the Court of Justice of the European Union and is a form of authorisation for non-EEA nationals. The implementation of the arrangements to comply with the Court of Justice decision in respect of temporary work assignments up to 12 months in duration.

December 2023

The Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment published a review in December 2023 which includes changes to the minimum salary threshold in various sectors of the economy.

Check out that review here.