If you would like to work in Ireland and are not a citizen of the EU or European Economic Area, then you will need to apply for a work visa. There are four main types of employment permits: General Employment Permit (formerly Work Permit), Critical Skills Employment Permit (formerly Green Card), Dependent/Partner/Spouse Employment Permit, and Reactivation Permit.
There are also five more that are more specific, but which may apply to your circumstances. Ireland also has a Working Holiday Visa programme for a few reciprocal nationalities.
EU and European Economic Area citizens
Citizens from the EU and the European Economic Area do not need any visas or work permits to live and work in Ireland. No job offer or work contract is needed prior to arrival in Ireland, however after the first three months you will either need a job or proof of enough funds to support yourself and any dependents.
EU countries are those that are members of the European Union. These countries include:
Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Republic of Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the UK.
The European Economic Area countries are Iceland, Lichtenstein, and Norway. Switzerland is not a member of the EU or EEA, but is part of the single market and therefore retains the same allowances.
Good to know:
The UK recently voted to leave the European Union, also known as Brexit. This is a long process, however, and for now they remain in the EU, so all above information still applies. Once Brexit is finalised (expected around March 2019) the freedom of movement of UK citizens to other EU countries may be limited, or even prohibited.
Non-EU and EEA citizens
Critical skills permit
Formerly known as the Green Card, non-European professionals with certain skills looking to relocate to Ireland can do so with the critical skills employment permit. You are eligible for this permit if you work in any field that doesn’t fall on the ineligible job categories list, you have the corresponding degree or relevant experience, and you are offered a salary of €60,000 or more per annum. If you earn between €30,000 and €59,999 per annum you can still apply as long as your occupation falls on the highly skilled occupations list and you possess a degree or higher.
Either the employer or the employee can apply, but the visa itself is granted to the employee and gives the same protections to the foreign employee as an Irish one. The job contract must last at least 2 years, and you must be paid directly by your employer in Ireland. The company must trade in Ireland and be registered with all the proper channels, and their number of foreign employees cannot exceed more than half of their total staff, except in certain start-up situations.
Short of extenuating circumstances, you are required to stay with your employer for at least 12 months, and may only change jobs if a new critical skills employment permit application is made. If you are made redundant during the duration of your permit, you must notify the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation within 28 days. You are then granted six months to find another job. You will have to apply for a new permit upon finding work, but if your field has moved to the ineligible list since your first application that will be overlooked.
This permit itself costs €1,000 and is valid for 2 years. Upon expiry you need to apply to your local immigration office for a Stamp 4 to continue living and working in Ireland without an employment permit. Applications can be made online at the department of business, enterprise and innovation website. You are able to bring your dependents with you on this permit.
General employment permit
Foreign nationals who do not meet the criteria for the Critical Skills Employment Permit may be able to apply for the general employment permit instead. Formerly known simply as the work permit, the General Employment Permit is granted for any job not on the ineligible careers list that pays €30,000 or more a year and passes the labour market needs tests.
The test requires that jobs be advertised with the Department of Social Protection employment services/EURES employment network for at least 2 weeks, in a national newspaper for 3 days, and in a local newspaper or a job posting website for 3 days and has been unable to be filled by an EU/EEA national. The labour market needs test may only be waived if the application is for a person with a previous permit who was made redundant, the job is on the highly skilled occupation list and/or pays €60,000 or more per year, is for a carer with a history of working with the sick person, or has been recommended by Enterprise Ireland or IDA Ireland.
In some instances, jobs paying €27,000 per annum may be considered, but you have to be a recent graduate of an Irish institution working in a highly skilled occupation, a recent graduate from abroad working as an ICT professional in a highly skilled occupation, or giving special language support in a non-EEA language at fluent level for eligible companies. Even if you meet one of these criterion, you must be earning €30,000 by the time you renew.
Just as with the Critical Skills Employment Permit, either the employer or employee can apply with the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation. You can apply for either a 6 month permit, which costs €500, or a 2 year permit for €1,000. Upon expiring, you can renew your permit for a further 6 months for €750, or up to three years for €1,500.
Once you’ve lived and worked in Ireland for 5 consecutive years you may apply for permanent residency. Again, you are expected to remain in the job for 12 months, and the same job change and redundancy rules apply. You are only able to bring your spouse and dependents over once you’ve lived and worked in Ireland for one year and can prove you are able to support them. They can, however, apply for their own General Employment Permits.
If you are a spouse, recognised partner, civil partner, or an under 18 dependent of a Critical Skills Employment Permit holder, you are eligible to seek your own employment with the dependent/partner/spouse employment permit. There are very few restrictions on the types of jobs you can get with this permit, but you cannot apply until you are already legally residing in Ireland. The application fee is waived the first time you apply and the duration is usually tied to the length of your family member’s Critical Skills Employment Permit. You must receive a job offer from an Ireland registered company and your employment cannot cause the company to employ more foreign nationals that it does EEA nationals. You should work a minimum of 10 hours per week and be paid at least the national minimum wage.
Previous employment permit holders who either fell out of the system, or endured workplace exploitation may apply for the reactivation employment permit so tthat hey may legally work again. To be eligible you must be a previous permit holder, currently unemployed with a job offer that is not in a domestic setting (i.e. housekeepers), and have a temporary Stamp 1 as well as a letter from the Department of Justice and Inequality. There are no salary or job type restrictions, but the rest of the rules, application fees, and duration are very similar to the General Employment Permit.
Working holiday visa
If you are a young person within the age range of 18-30, and would like to travel to Ireland for up to a year with the ability to take on some work to help fund your holiday, you may be able to apply for Ireland’s working holiday visa. Citizens from Argentina, Australia, Chile, Hong Kong, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea, Taiwan, and the USA are eligible to apply at the Ireland embassy or consulate in their home country for this opportunity. Various requirements apply for different countries, and there are limited spaces for Taiwanese nationals. Canadians may also apply for this visa, however they can be between 18-35 years old, and stay for up to 2 years.
Other work permits
There are 5 more types of work permits offered in Ireland. These are more specialised and may apply to fewer people:
Contract for services permit
Contract for services employment permit allows non-EEA nationals to remain employed outside of Ireland, but come to Ireland for a temporary period to work on a contract for their employer
Intra-company transfer permit
Intra-company transfer employment permit allows senior employees, key personnel, and trainees of multinational companies to transfer to an Irish branch, provided they have worked there 6 months and earn at least €40,000 per year as employees, or 1 month and earn €30,000 or more as trainees.
Internship employment permit allows non-EEA students attending non-Irish schools to take on a work experience assignment offered within Ireland.
Sport and cultural permit
Sport and cultural employment permit allows employment within Ireland if it develops and cultivates sporting or cultural activities.
Exchange agreement permit
Exchange agreement employment permit is for participants of international reciprocal agreements, for example the Fulbright Programme.