Permit Types

Principal Types of Permit

The 2014 Act updated the legislation in relation to the grant of employment permits.  It reformed the Employment Permit system and give a clear legal basis for having different types of employment permits for different purposes. It provided additional criteria and rules in determining whether to refuse an application for an employment permit or to grant it.

The Act sought to focus on the particular needs of start-up companies, provide necessary flexibility with key sectors of economic growth. It provides a role in some contexts for IDA Ireland and Enterprise Ireland.

There are new types of employment permits for different purposes, which replace the earlier schemes. The criteria are now set out in detail in regulations. Additional criteria and rules are provided for in determining whether to refuse or grant an employment permit.

The requirement to consider EEA nationals before non-EEA nationals is strengthened.  There is focus on the particular needs of start-up companies.


General Common Permits

The Department of Justice’s “green card” scheme, which was designed to attract foreign nationals with skills that are in short supply and which are critical to the economy was reformed.  Green card Employment Permits are now Critical Skills Employment Permits.

The former general work permit, provided for skills of a more general nature, where it was proven amongst other requirements that the employer is unable to fill the position from the labour market.  This is now the General Employment Permit.

The previous spouse or dependant employment permit is now the Dependant/Partner/Spouse Employment Permit.  The Dependent/Partner/Spouse Employment Permits are provided to spouses etc. of the primary permit holders and depend on continuity of a valid permit by the primary permit holder.

The permit also covers family members of certain researchers under Council Directive 2005/71 on the admission of third party researchers for the purpose of carrying out research. The spouse/dependent/partner of the holder of the Green Card under the earlier scheme may apply for a Dependent/Partner/Spouse Employment Permit.


Redundancy and Former Permit Holders

That is provision giving an additional six months to a foreign national who has been made redundant to find employment and apply for a permit.  He is also exempted from certain rules, which would otherwise apply including the labour market needs test and eligibility criteria in relation to the job.

A further form of work permit deals with applications by persons who originally entered the labour market on a valid employment permit but have ceased to hold it due to redundancies, exploitation or ignorance of its lapsing.  This permit is now the Reactivation Employment Permit.

There are a number of requirements including that

  • the foreign national originally entered the labour market legally under an employment permit,
  • is not working illegally and
  • has a real offer of employment.

The Department of Justice must be satisfied that the circumstances of the case including undue hardship, humanitarian considerations, linkages with local communities and family circumstances, merit consideration for an employment permit.

The Department may restrict the number of such permits.  There is power to refuse a permit if the applicant has used the scheme before and it is in the public interest to so refuse.


Critical Skills Employment Permits I

The Green Card scheme is now the Critical Skills Employment Permits (CSEPs). Its rationale is to attract those foreign nationals with skills that are in short supply in Ireland and which are critical to the economy.

The purposes for which an employment permit may be granted under the legislation are to ensure that appropriately skilled foreign nationals with skills that are required

  • in enterprises in an economic sector that is of importance for the economic and social development of the State, and
  • in employments that are essential to the development and growth of those enterprises or economic sector, and
  • that are in critical short supply in the State, are encouraged to become available for employment in the State, in such enterprises and employments and the Minister is satisfied that where such enterprises are unable to recruit such appropriately skilled persons, or there is a shortage of such persons, the inability to recruit or such shortage is likely to hinder the development and growth of such enterprises, and) the economic development of, and the development of industry, technology and enterprise in, the State and the services which support such development;

Critical Skills Employment Permits II

The employments for which a Critical Skills Employment Permit may be granted under the 2017 regulations are

  • those listed in Schedule 3 of the regulations for which the minimum annual remuneration is €30,000 and in respect of which the minimum hourly rate of remuneration is €14.79, and
  • all other employments, other than the employments listed in Schedule 4, for which the minimum annual remuneration is €60,000 and in respect of which the minimum hourly rate of remuneration is €29.58.

The minimum number of hours of work required to be worked each week under a Critical Skills Employment Permit is 20.

In the case of a Critical Skills Employment Permit for an employment for which the minimum annual remuneration is €60,000, the qualification or experience required in respect of that employment is a third level degree relevant to the employment concerned, or the necessary experience.

In the case of a Critical Skills Employment Permit for an employment for which the minimum annual remuneration is €30,000, the qualification required in respect of that employment is a third level degree relevant to the employment concerned.


Spousal or Dependant Employment Permit.

The legislation sets out the conditions applying to Dependant/Partner/Spouse Employment Permits. These permits are provided to spouses, civil partners or dependants of primary permit holders in the high skill and researchers categories and are dependent on the continued permission of the primary permit holder and researcher to be employed in the State.

The rationale for this type of employment permit is that in order to attract foreign nationals to apply for the above CSEPs, provision has to be made for their families where appropriate.

This employment permit type is also designed to provide for the family members of certain types of researchers under Council Directive 2005/71/EC. This Directive provides for the admission of third country researchers to EU Member States for the purpose of carrying out research. In line with this Directive, the Department operates a scheme known as the Scheme for Admission of Third Country Researchers to Ireland, which provides an alternative mechanism (to the employment permit system) for entry into Ireland of researchers who come within the scope of the Directive.

The employments for which a Dependant/Partner/Spouse Employment Permit may be granted are all employments, other than that of a domestic operative.  The minimum hourly rate of remuneration for which a Dependant/Partner/Spouse Employment Permit may be granted is the National Minimum Wage or an applicable amount under a sectoral employment regulation order, whichever is the higher.

The minimum number of hours of work required to be worked each week under a dependant / Partner/ Spouse Employment Permit is 10.


General Work Permit

The General Work permit was the formerly called the Work Permit. While this employment permit currently covers a range of sub-categories, the legislation clarifies that this type of employment permit will be provided for skills of a more general nature where it is proven, among other things, that the employer was unable to fill the position from the labour market.

The employments for which a General Employment Permit may be granted are all employments, other than the employments listed in Schedule 4 of the regulations for which—

  • in the case of a foreign national who has graduated in the last 12 months from a third level institution in the State and has been offered a graduate position in an employment listed in Schedule 3, the minimum annual remuneration is €27,000 and in respect of which the minimum hourly rate of remuneration is €13.31,
  • in the case of a foreign national who has graduated in the last 12 months from a third level institution outside the State and has been offered a graduate position in an employment listed under ‘ICT professionals’ in Schedule 3, the minimum annual remuneration is €27,000 and in respect of which the minimum hourly rate of remuneration is €13.31,
  • in the case of employment of a person fluent in the official language of a state which is not a Member State of the EEA, where the employment is supported by an enterprise development agency and the employment is in  a customer service and sales role with relevant product knowledge,  a specialist online digital marketing and sales role, or  a specialist language support and technical sales support role, and the minimum annual remuneration is €27,000 and in respect of which the minimum hourly rate of remuneration is €13.31, or
  • in the case of employment as a boner (meat), the minimum annual remuneration is €27,500 and in respect of which the minimum hourly rate of remuneration is €13.56, or
  • in any other case, the minimum annual remuneration is €30,000 and in respect of which the minimum hourly rate of remuneration is €14.79.

In the case of a General Employment Permit granted in respect of employment referred to in the first or second category, the minimum annual remuneration required as a condition of the renewal of such permit shall be €30,000 and in respect of which the minimum hourly rate of remuneration is €14.79.


Labour Market Proofs for General Employment Permit

In the case of an application for a General Employment Permit, notice must be placed—

with the Minister for Social Protection for publication on the EURES website for a minimum period of 14 days, in at least one national newspaper for a minimum period of 3 days, and either in an approved newspaper or on a specified a website for a minimum period, in either case, of 3 days.

The notice shall contain—

  • a description of the employment,
  • the name of the person who shall make the offer of employment,
  • the minimum annual remuneration of the employment,
  • the location(s) at which the employment is to be carried out, and
  • the hours of work of the employment.

In the case of an application for a General Employment Permit, employments which are designated as skill shortage employments, to which the requirement to publish a notice do not apply, are those employments listed in Schedule 3, and all other employments, other than the employments listed in Schedule 4, for which the minimum annual remuneration is €60,000.

The minimum number of hours of work required to be worked each week under a General Employment Permit is 20.


Intra-Company Transfer Employment Permit I

This employment permit facilitates transfers between branches of a company for a specified duration and project. Such employment permits are particularly important in start-up FDI situations where often the first few employees will be the team from HQ establishing the operation in Ireland

It provides for a foreign national who is employed by a foreign employer outside the State to carry out duties for, or participate in a training programme provided by, a connected person  in employments that are the same, or substantially the same, employments in which the foreign national is employed, outside the State, by the foreign employer, or  in employments that require the foreign national to participate in such training programme, where the foreign national is required, pursuant to his or her employment with the foreign employer, to carry out those duties for the connected person or participate in such training programme.

An Intra-Company Transfer Employment Permit shall not be granted in respect of an employment listed in Schedule 4 to the regulation.


Intra-Company Transfer Employment Permit II

The employments for which an Intra-Company Transfer Employment Permit may be granted are as follows

Employments that are the same, or substantially the same, as employments in which the foreign national is employed, outside the State, by the foreign employer, of the Principal Act, employments in a senior management position, or in a position that requires specialist knowledge, qualifications or experience essential to the connected person’s service, research equipment, techniques or management, and for which the minimum annual remuneration is €40,000 and in respect of which the minimum hourly rate of remuneration is €19.72

In respect of the employments that require the foreign national to participate in the training programme employments  that require the foreign national in respect of whom the application is made to undergo training with the connected person for a period not exceeding 12 months, and for which the minimum annual remuneration is €30,000 and in respect of which the minimum hourly rate of remuneration is €14.79.


Intra-Company Transfer Employment Permit III

Senior management position means any position primarily having one of the following functions the management of the organisation, or a department, subdivision, function or component thereof,  the supervision or control of the work of other supervisory, professional or managerial staff, or management of an essential function within the organisation, or a department or subdivision thereof, the authority to hire and terminate staff, or recommend same, as well as other human resources functions, or  the exercise of discretion over the day-to-day operations of the activity or function for which the foreign national has authority.

The minimum number of hours of work required to be worked each week under an Intra-Company Transfer Employment Permit is 20.

The minimum period of employment for which a foreign national in the above cases may be employed by the foreign employer before an application for an Intra-Company Transfer Employment Permit may be made in respect of him or her is—

  • 6 months in the case of a foreign national in the first category (same employment or
  • 1 month in the case of a foreign national in the second category (required participation)

Contract for Services Employment Permit I

The Act provides for what was formerly a type of Work Permit dealing with Contract for Service Providers. These facilitate the temporary employment in Ireland of foreign nationals working in a company based outside of Ireland. Such companies typically have won a contract for services with an Irish company.

The employments for which a Contract for Services Employment Permit may be granted are all employments, for which the minimum annual remuneration is €40,000 and in respect of which the minimum hourly rate of remuneration is €19.72.

A Contract for Services Employment Permit may not be granted in respect of the employments listed in Schedule 4 of the regulations, and employment as an executive chef, head chef, sous chef or specialist chef specialising in cuisine originating from a state that is not a Member State of the EEA, in an establishment other than a fast food outlet.


Contract for Services Employment Permit II

In the case of an application for a Contract for Services Employment Permit, a similar advertisement / notice as applies to a general work permit must be placed. The same broad terms and exemptions apply

The minimum number of hours of work required to be worked each week under a Contract for Services Employment Permit is 20.

The minimum period of employment for which a foreign national shall be employed by the contractor before an application for a Contract for Services Employment Permit may be made in respect of him or her is 6 months.

In addition to the information, documents and evidence prescribed the following shall be provided, and where necessary translated, with an application for the renewal of a Contract for Services Employment Permit:

  • documentation evidencing any payments made in respect of the board or accommodation of the holder of the employment permit;
  • documentation evidencing any payments made in respect of the health insurance of the holder of the employment permit, and
  • certified translations into English or Irish of any documentation referred to in paragraph (a) or (b), wherever such documentation is not in English or Irish.

Redundancy and Former Permit Holders

That is provision giving an additional six months to a foreign national who has been made redundant to find employment and apply for a permit.  He is also exempted from certain rules, which would otherwise apply including the labour market needs test and eligibility criteria in relation to the job.

A further form of work permit deals with applications by persons who originally entered the labour market on a valid employment permit but have ceased to hold it due to redundancies, exploitation or ignorance of its lapsing.  This permit is now the Reactivation Employment Permit.

There are a number of requirements including that

  • the foreign national originally entered the labour market legally under an employment permit,
  • is not working illegally and
  • has a real offer of employment.

The Department of Justice must be satisfied that the circumstances of the case including undue hardship, humanitarian considerations, linkages with local communities and family circumstances, merit consideration for an employment permit.

The Department may restrict the number of such permits.  There is power to refuse a permit if the applicant has used the scheme before and it is in the public interest to so refuse.


Reactivation Employment Permit

The legislation provides for what is currently a type of Work Permit dealing with applications routed through the Migrant Rights Centre Ireland on behalf of foreign nationals who entered the labour market on a valid employment permit but who have subsequently fallen out of the system for a variety of reasons including redundancies, exploitation and ignorance.

A number of criteria apply to the granting of Reactivation Employment Permits, including a requirement that the foreign national originally entered the labour market legally on an employment permit, is not working illegally, has a real offer of employment and in respect of whom the Minister for Justice and Equality is satisfied that the circumstances of the case (e.g. undue hardship, humanitarian considerations, linkages with local community, family circumstances, etc.) merit consideration of an employment permit.

The employments for which a Reactivation Employment Permit may be granted are all employments the minimum annual remuneration for which is the minimum amount of remuneration to be paid for 39 hours of work in each week for 52 weeks and in respect of which the minimum remuneration hourly rate is the minimum wage or a higher amount under an employment regulation order, if applicable.

A Reactivation Employment Permit shall not be granted for employment as a domestic operative. The minimum number of hours of work required to be worked each week under a Reactivation Employment Permit is 20.

To prevent any abuse, the Act gives the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation power to restrict the number of such permits and the power to refuse such a permit if the applicant had used this scheme before and it is in the public interest to refuse.


Various Permits

There is provision for an Exchange Agreement Employment Permit.  This covers cases and scenarios where there is a reciprocal international agreement and opportunities are afforded to Irish nationals in exchange for opportunities afforded to foreign nationals in Ireland under trade agreements which allow for such exchange and transfer.

The Sports and Cultural Employment Permit is designed primarily for sports professionals.  The Minister is to consult with the certain other bodies.

There is an Intern Employment Permits for student internship programs involving work experience in the highly skilled occupations list.   IDA Ireland and Enterprise Ireland are to advise the Department in relation to applications made by their client companies and regard is to be had to their recommendation.


Exchange Agreement Employment Permit

The legislation provides for a type of Work Permit dealing with reciprocal international arrangements where opportunities are afforded to Irish nationals in exchange for opportunities afforded to foreign nationals e.g. trade agreements which include labour transfers, exchange agreements concerning researchers or student work experience, etc. They are now called Exchange Agreement Employment Permits.

The employments for which an Exchange Agreement Employment Permit may be granted are those that come within the scope of the exchange agreements listed in Schedule 5 and the minimum annual remuneration for which is the minimum amount of remuneration to be paid for 39 hours of work in each week for 52 weeks and in respect of which the minimum remuneration hourly rate is rate is the statutory minimum wage or a higher amount under an employment regulation order, if applicable.

The minimum number of hours of work required to be worked each week under an Exchange Agreement Employment Permit is 20.

In addition to the information and documents prescribed, an application for the grant of an Exchange Agreement Employment Permit shall be accompanied by a letter from the organisation operating the exchange agreement confirming that the exchange agreement applies to the foreign national in respect of whom the application for the grant of the Exchange Agreement Employment Permit is made.


Sport and Cultural Employment Permit

The legislation provides for a type of Work Permit dealing with applications related predominantly to sports professionals.

The employments for which a Sport and Cultural Employment Permit may be granted are all employments required for the development and operation of sporting and cultural activities, and the minimum annual remuneration for which is the minimum amount of remuneration to be paid for 39 hours of work in each week for 52 weeks and in respect of which the minimum remuneration hourly rate is the statutory minimum wage or such higher amount under an applicable employment regulation order.

A Sport and Cultural Employment Permit shall not be granted in respect of an employment listed in Schedule 4 to the regulations

The minimum number of hours of work required to be worked each week under a Sport and Cultural Employment Permit is 20.


Internship Employment Permit

The legislation provides what for what was formerly a type of Work Permit dealing with applications related to student internship programmes involving work experience in employments on the Highly Skilled Occupations List. The role that IDA Ireland and Enterprise Ireland play in advising the Department with regard to applications made by their client companies is recognised. Thy Minister may have regard to their recommendations but is not to be bound by them.

The employments for which an Internship Employment Permit may be granted are the employments listed in Schedule to the regulations. The minimum annual remuneration for which is the minimum amount of remuneration to be paid for 39 hours of work in each week for 52 weeks and in respect of which the minimum remuneration hourly rate is the statutory minimum wage of and higher amount applicable under an employment regulation order

In addition to the information and documents prescribed, an application for the grant of an Internship Employment Permit shall be accompanied by a letter from a third level institution outside the State—

  • confirming that the foreign national is enrolled as a full-time student at that institution,
  • providing the name and description of the course of study in which the foreign national is enrolled,
  • providing the qualifications or skills with which the course of study is wholly or substantially concerned,
  • confirming that the employment in respect of which the application is made is wholly or substantially concerned with the course of study on which the foreign national is enrolled,
  • confirming that the foreign national is required, for the completion of the course of study, to obtain experience in the practice of the skills or qualifications with which the course of study is concerned for a period of not more than 12 months in an employment that requires the practice of those skills or qualifications, and
  • confirming that the foreign national is required to return to the institution at the end of the 12-month period in order to complete the course of study, and

It shall also be accompanied by a letter from the person who has made the offer of employment—

  • confirming that the employment is for a period not exceeding 12 months, and
  • stating the employment, as listed in Schedule 3, in which the foreign national is to be employed.

The minimum number of hours of work required to be worked each week under an Internship Employment Permit is 20.