Following the recent High Court Case new proposals in relation to JLC/REA's have been made by the government:
24-Nov-10 at 18.17 | Resolve HR Admin
Following today's decision to reduce the Minimum Wage rate to €7.65. The Government has signalled that the ERO and REA rates should be reviewed. In particular the Catering,...

Guide to work Permits in Ireland

In general, non-EEA nationals must have a permit to work in Ireland. EEA and Swiss nationals do not need an employment permit, except for Bulgarian and Romanian nationals. The EEA (European Economic Area) consists of the EU member states together with Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein. 


Bulgarian and Romanian nationals

Since 1 January 2007 Bulgarian and Romanian nationals are EU nationals but may still be required to have an employment permit for a continuous period of 12 months to work in Ireland. Applications for work permits for them will be given preference over those for non-EEA nationals. Romanian and Bulgarian nationals who have been resident in the State on a employment permit, expiring on or after 31 December 2006, for a continuous period of 12 months, are not required to have employment permits.


Under the Employment Permits Act 2003 and the Employment Permits Act 2006 there are 4 types of employment permits: 

  1. Work permits, 
  2. Green card permits,
  3. Spousal/dependant work permits
  4. Intra company transfers.


Work permits - main features

  • Work permits are available for occupations with an annual salary of €30,000 or more. They were also available for a very restricted number of occupations with salaries below €30,000. However these are not available for new applications received on or after 1 June 2009.
  • Work permits will not be considered for occupations listed as ineligible for work permits - see  below
  • The work permit is granted for 2 years initially, and then for a further 3 years
  • A labour market needs test (see below) is required with all work permit applications
  • Either the employer or employee can apply for the employment permit, based on an offer of employment
  • It will be granted to the employee and will include a statement of the employee's rights and entitlements
  • The employer is prohibited from deducting recruitment expenses from the employee's pay or retaining the employee's personal documents 

Once someone has been issued with an employment permit they have all the employment rights of an Irish or EU citizens for the duration of the employment permit.


Changes to new work permit applications from 1 June 2009

There have been a number of changes to eligibility for those who are applying for a work permit for the first time on or after 1 June 2009. These changes do not apply to those who have already been granted a work permit or who apply for a work permit before 1 June 2009. In addition the changes do not apply to Romanian or Bulgarian nationals, these changes include:

  • Additional excluded categories: work riders (horse racing), domestic workers and HGV drivers no longer eligible for new applications for work permits - see below
  • No work permits granted for jobs with salary of under €30,000 a year, (may be considered in exceptional cases)
  • Labour market needs test changed to advertising with FÁS/EURES for 8 weeks and in national media for 6 days
  • Spouses and dependants of new employment permit holders no longer exempt from labour markets needs test and fee
  • Increased renewal fees for new work permit holders.


General Rules

Work permits are issued by the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment. Either the employer or the employee can apply for the permit which must be based on an offer of employment.


Labour market needs test

A new application for a work permit must be accompanied by documentary evidence that a labour market needs test has been carried out. From 1 June 2009 the test requires that the vacancy must have been advertised with the FÁS/EURES employment network for 8 weeks (previously 4 weeks) and in local and national newspapers for 6 days (previously 3 days). This is to ensure that, in the first instance an EEA or Swiss national or in the second instance, a Bulgarian or Romanian national cannot be found to fill the vacancy.


Occupations that are ineligible for work permits

Since April 2004 the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment, following consultation with FÁS, has announced, on a quarterly basis, occupational sectors that are considered ineligible for work permits

Currently (2009) work permits are not available for the following occupations.

  • Clerical and administrative staff
  • General operatives and labourers
  • Operator and production staff
  • Retail sales staff, sales representatives and supervisory or specialist sales staff
  • Drivers (excluding HGV) - from 1 June 2009 this includes HGV drivers
  • Nursery/crèche workers, child minders/nannies
  • Hotel, tourism and catering staff except chefs 
  • The following craft workers and apprentice/trainee craft workers: bookbinders, bricklayers, cabinet makers, carpenters/joiners, carton makers, fitters - construction plant, electricians, instrumentation craftspeople, fitters, tilers - floor/wall, mechanics - heavy vehicles, instrumentation craftspersons, metal fabricators, mechanics - motor, originators, painters and decorators, plumbers, printers, engineers - refrigeration, sheet metal workers, tool makers, vehicle body repairers, machinists - wood, plasterers and welders
  • Domestic workers (for work permit applications received on or after 1 June 2009)
  • Work riders  (for work permit applications received on or after 1 June 2009)


Renewal of work permits

The list of ineligible categories applies only to new applications for work permits. Holders of work permits issued prior to 01 June 09 can apply for a renewal and a labour market needs test is not required. A work permit is issued first for 2 years and then may be renewed for a further 3 years. After 5 years an application for an unlimited work permit but if the first work permit application was on or after 1 June 2009, a labour market needs test is required. For people changing employment a new application for a work permit must be made together with a labour market needs test. After legally living and working in Ireland for 5 years on a work permit a Non-Eu citizen can apply for a long term residence to the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS).



From 1 June 2009 a labour market needs test will be required for someone who was on a work permit and who was made redundant. If they were made redundant from a job which is on the list of ineligible categories then they are allowed apply for a new work permit for a job on that ineligible list.


Registration and permission to remain

Any non-EU/EEA national (with the exception of Swiss nationals) wishing to stay in Ireland for more than three months must register with the Garda National Immigration Bureau (GNIB) to obtain a GNIB Registration Card. The fee for registering is currently €100. In Dublin the registration is done at the Garda National Immigration Bureau (GNIB). outside Dublin registration normally takes place at the Garda District HQ. There are a number of different residency stamps:


There are 6 different types of Work Permits. These sub categories are referred to as "stamps":

Stamp 1 - Issued to non-EEA nationals in possession of a work permit and to persons granted permission to engage in business in the State

Stamp 2 - Issued to full-time students  (However holders of Stamp 2A student visa's are not permited to work.)

Stamp 3 - Issued to visitors, tourists, spouses of work permit holders, persons receiving medical treatment and retired persons - employment is prohibited to holders of this Stamp

Stamp 4 - Issued to spouses and dependents of EEA nationals, spouses of Irish nationals/parents of Irish citizens who have been granted permission to remain in the State on that basis, persons granted refugee status under the terms of the 1951 Geneva Convention, former asylum seekers granted humanitarian leave to remain and Programme refugees. Holders of this Stamp do not require a work permit or business permission. This Stamp is also issued to holders of Work Authorisations or Working Visas

Stamp 5 - Issued to persons who have dual citizenship through; birth in Ireland; parent(s) born in Ireland; grandparent(s) born in Ireland (Foreign Births Register Certificate required from Department of Foreign Affairs); naturalization or post nuptial citizenship

Stamp 6 - Issued to non-EEA nationals who have resided in the State for at least 8 years. It is issued based on the individual merits of each application


Work permit not necessary

Foreign nationals do not need a work permit if they are in one of the following categories:

  • EEA/Swiss citizen and your spouse (whether he/she is a EEA/Swiss citizen or not) and your dependent children - except Bulgarian and Romanian nationals, see above 
  • Person who has been granted refugee status - whether through the normal process or as a programme refugee.
  • Postgraduate student where the work is an integral part of the course of study being undertaken.
  • Person who has been given permission to stay in the country because you are the spouse of an Irish citizen
  • Person who has been granted leave to remain as the parent of an Irish-born child
  • Person who has been refused refugee status but has been granted leave to remain on humanitarian grounds.



Fees for new applications for work permits received on or after 1 June 2009 

Duration of work permit


Up to 6 months  


6 months to 2 years  


Fees for renewals of new work permits received on or after 1 June 2009 

Duration of renewal


Up to 6 months  


6 months to 2 years  


2 to 3 years    


Unlimited (after 5 years)

No fee


How to apply

New applications for work permits can be made by the prospective employer or employee to the Employment Permits Section of the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment. Renewal of Work Permits either an employer or an employee can apply for a renewal, however if an employer applies for a work permit in respect of a former employee who has left the state, this will be considered a new application.


For further information on Work Permits in Ireland or to seek specific information please contact us here at Resolve HR Contact Us