A complete guide to work permits and work visas in Ireland

A work permit gives you the right to live and work in Ireland.

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Ireland is known around the world for its friendly people, incredible culture, and stunning landscapes. Its reputation makes it an attractive destination for workers worldwide. Ireland is home to a booming tech industry and many leading multinational companies that are ready to welcome skilled professionals.

Any non-EU/EEA nationals who want to work in Ireland legally must acquire the appropriate work permit. These are issued by the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment and are acquired for most jobs unless there are specific exceptions.

In this article, we break down the work permits you may need to live and work in Ireland.

What is a work permit?

A work permit is required for anyone outside the European Economic Area (EEA), which includes every EU member state plus Norway, Iceland, and Lichtenstein. As part of the Single Market, Swiss nationals also have the same rights to live and work in Ireland.

Job seekers from all other countries, including the United Kingdom, must apply for a work permit and meet its eligibility criteria. The most common types of visas are the General Employment Permit (GEP) and the Critical Skills Employment Permit (CSEP), although other, more specific, routes are available.

You’ll need a work permit if you’ve already had a successful interview with an Irish employer and received a job offer.

A work permit gives you the right to live and work in Ireland and usually specifies an income threshold for consideration. Permits are governed by the Employment Permits Act 2003 – 2014, which sets out the types of permits available and the eligibility criteria.

Types of work permits & visas in Ireland

If you’re interested in living and working in Ireland, there are different work permits you need to consider. We go into greater detail about each of these work visas below:

General Employment Permit (GEP)

The General Employment Permit (GEP) is suitable for a broad range of occupations not covered by the Critical Skills Employment Permit. This permit is designed to cater to positions with a clear shortage of skills. To qualify for a GEP, applicants generally need to meet the following criteria:

  • The job offer must be for at least 12 months.
  • The annual remuneration must be at least €30,000.
  • The position must pass a Labour Market Needs Test, demonstrating that no suitable candidate within the European Economic Area (EEA) is available for the role.
  • Prospective employers must satisfy the 50:50 rule, ensuring 50% of staff are from EU states.

This permit is typically valid for up to two years initially and can be renewed for up to three additional years.

Critical Skills Employment Permit (CSEP)

The Critical Skills Employment Permit (CSEP) aims to attract highly skilled workers to fill shortages in key sectors like IT, engineering, and healthcare. 

  • For occupations on the Critical Skills Occupations List they must have a job offer of at least €38,000 plus a relevant degree
  • The minimum salary threshold for roles not on the Critical Skills Occupations List is €38k or €64k
  • Job offers must come from locally incorporated companies
  • Subject to the 50:50 rule.

After two years on the CSEP work permit, workers can apply to continue working in Ireland without a permit, making it particularly attractive for those planning to stay in Ireland.

Dependant/partner/spouse employment permit

This permit allows the dependents, partners, or spouses of primary employment permit holders to work in Ireland. 

  • The permit is tied to the validity of the primary permit holder’s employment.
  • Applicants need to provide proof of their relationship with the primary permit holder.
  • It facilitates family members’ integration by allowing them to seek employment.

Intra-company transfer employment permit (ICTEP)

The Intra-Company Transfer Employment Permit (ICTEP) is designed for transferring key personnel from a foreign branch of a company to its Irish branch. 

  • The employee must have worked with the foreign employer for at least six months.
  • This permit is typically valid for up to two years but can be extended to five years for senior management roles.
  • It’s ideal for multinational companies needing to transfer expertise quickly without hiring externally.

Internship employment permit

The Internship Employment Permit offers a fantastic opportunity for non-EEA students to gain practical experience in Ireland. This permit is specifically designed for internships that are an integral part of the student’s course of study. 

  • The internship must be directly related to the student’s academic program and be related to current skills shortages on the Critical Skills Employment List
  • The employer must be registered with the Revenue Commissioners and the Companies Registration Office.
  • This permit is typically valid for the duration of the internship with a maximum stay of 12 months, allowing students to gain hands-on experience in their field of study.
  • The rate of pay must meet or exceed the National Minimum Wage

Contract for services employment permit

The Contract for Services Employment Permit is tailored for foreign companies looking to fulfill contracts in Ireland. This permit is issued based on a specific contract between a foreign company and an Irish entity. 

  • Employees must have been with the foreign company for at least six months.
  • The permit is tied to a specific contract between the foreign and Irish companies. It is initially granted for up to 24 months and can be extended to 5 years.
  • Contracts must be a one-to-one contract with an Irish business 

Sport and cultural employment permit

Designed for individuals in the sports and cultural sectors, the Sport and Cultural Employment Permit is ideal for athletes, coaches, and cultural professionals. 

  • Applicants must have a relevant employment contract in Ireland for up to two years.
  • This permit supports the employment of sports and cultural professionals, enhancing Ireland’s cultural and sports industries.
  • The permit is generally issued for the duration of the employment contract; after 12 months, an applicant may change employers.

Exchange Agreement Employment Permit

The Exchange Agreement Employment Permit is aimed at individuals participating in exchange programs between Ireland and other countries, such AIESEC or the Fulbright Program. 

  • Suitable for those involved in formal exchange agreements.
  • The permit requires a formal agreement between Ireland and another country.
  • The duration of this permit is typically 12 months long and aligned with the terms of the exchange agreement.

What are the work permit requirements in Ireland?

If you’re not in the EU/EEA, you will need one of these permits to live and work in Ireland. It’s important to understand the eligibility criteria of the permit you’re pursuing, as well as the documentation you’ll need as you apply.

You may already have a job sponsor from an Irish employer but it’s a good idea to double check with them if they need to conduct a labour market needs test. If a job role isn’t on the Critical Skills Employment List, solid evidence of a skills shortage must be provided. Your prospective employer must ensure it meets the 50:50 rule before sending an offer to someone outside the EU.

General requirements

Regardless of the specific type of employment permit, there are basic documentation requirements that applicants must fulfill:

  • A valid job offer and employment contract from an Irish employer.
  • Documentation proving your qualifications and relevant work experience.
  • The employer must be registered with the Revenue Commissioners and the Companies Registration Office.
  • Work permit applications must be submitted at least 12 weeks before the proposed employment start date.

Stamp 4 Requirements 

Stamp 4 offers significant benefits, including the ability to work in Ireland without the need for a specific employment permit. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Allows the holder to work without needing a specific work permit.
  • Typically granted to those who have been legally residing in Ireland for a certain period or to those holding Critical Skills Employment Permits for two years.
  • To convert to Stamp 4, you must submit an application with the required documentation.
  • Includes proof of continuous residence, an employment contract, and proof of identity.
  • Stamp 4 is usually valid for up to two years, with the option for renewal or until citizenship by naturalisation.

Stamp 5 requirements 

Stamp 5 is for long-term residency and offers several benefits for those who plan to stay in Ireland permanently:

  • Provides the holder with the right to remain in Ireland without any employment restrictions.
  • Typically granted to those who have legally resided in Ireland for at least eight years.
  • Applicants must apply through the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) and provide the necessary documentation.
  • Includes proof of continuous residence, identity, and other relevant documents.
  • Stamp 5 is valid indefinitely, with no need for renewal.

How to apply for a work permit in Ireland

You’ll likely interview with an employer before considering which work permit is best for your situation. If you already have a job offer, your prospective employer will likely be able to tell you which one is best. Make sure to check the criteria before submitting an application.

You’ll then need to gather all the relevant documents, which will include the following:

  • Job offer and employment contract
  • Proof of qualifications and experience
  • Passport
  • Labour market needs test results if applicable
  • Employer details

Applications typically cost around €1,000 for a 24-month visa or €500 for a six-month one. Renewal costs vary between visas and length of stay.  Check the Department of Enterprise for the most current fee structure.

Permits take around 13 weeks to be approved; Critical Skills Employment Permits may be processed faster due to their priority status.

Once approved, permits are usually sent to your employer for collection. You’ll need to register with immigration within 90 days of arrival, at which point you can begin your employment.

Navigating changes to work permits in Ireland

Legislation regarding work permits can change, impacting your eligibility and application process. Staying informed ensures you comply with new rules, avoiding delays or rejections.

The best way to stay informed is by checking the Department of Enterprise’s Latest Updates. You can also keep up to date by following news outlets and government announcements.

A great way to be notified of changes is through your professional network. Consider joining industry groups and forums where changes in work permit regulations may be discussed.

Find the right job with Recruit Ireland 

Navigating Ireland’s various work permits and visas requires patience and careful preparation. Whether you’re coming in on the General Employment Permit or Critical Skills Employment Permit, there are specific eligibility criteria. Successful applicants get to enjoy everything Ireland offers; for some, there are long-term benefits like residency and increased job flexibility.

At Recruit Ireland, we’re here to help you with every step of your job hunt. With thousands of job listings and executive jobs available, our advice centre can help get you prepared for work in Ireland. Our resources are designed to support you through your career journey, so explore our job board and find your dream job in Ireland. 



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