Complete guide to working in Ireland with a work visa
If you are a non-EU/EEA national who wants to work in Ireland, you will have to get permission to work from the Irish immigration authorities, ie. obtain an Ireland work permit. In addition, citizens of several countries also have to apply for an Ireland work visa so they can be allowed to enter Ireland in the first place.
Ireland work permits and work visas are issued by two different authority bodies in Ireland.
Before a visa-subject foreign national can apply for the Ireland work visa, they have to first find a job in Ireland and then apply for an Ireland work permit from the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation (DBEI).
Am I Subject to Irish Work Visa?
You only have to apply for an Ireland work visa if you are from a country whose nationals are subject to Irish visas.
However, keep in mind that whether you need an Ireland visa or not, if you are a non-EU/EEA national, you will still have to go through Border Control and request permission to enter from the immigration officers.
Types of Ireland Work Visas and Permits
There are about nine different types of Ireland employment permits, but the two most common ones are the Critical Skills Employment Permit and General Employment Permit.
Critical Skills Employment Permit
The Ireland Critical Skills Employment Permit is available at highly-skilled international workers, aiming to encourage them to come to Ireland and fill skills shortages in certain high-skill eligible occupations.
The eligible occupations under the Critical Skills Employment Permit include professionals in the fields of Natural and Social Science, Engineering, ICT, Health, Teaching and Education, Architecture etc.
The Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation has a list on their website listing all the eligible professions.
Irish employers who hire international workers eligible for the Critical Skills Permit do not have to take the Labour Markets Needs Test.
General Employment Permit
This Irish employment permit is issued to professions which do not qualify for the Critical Skills permit. There is no list of eligible occupations under the General Employment permit. You can apply for this type of Ireland employment permit under any profession, unless it is included in the list of “Ineligible Categories of Employment for Employment Permits”.
Dependant/Partner/Spouse Employment Permits
These types of permits are issued to spouses, partners, or other dependents of a Critical Skills Employment Permit Holder.
If you receive an Ireland employment permit as the dependent, spouse, or partner of a Critical Skills Employment holder, you can work in any profession, even those on the ineligible occupations list, except as a domestic operative. Your application will also be free of charge.
Intra-Company Transfer Employment Permit
The Ireland Intra-Company Transfer Employment Permit is issued to foreign workers who want to transfer to the Irish branch of a company they are already employed in. It is available to senior management, key personnel or trainees.
Internship Employment Permit
The Ireland Internship Employment Permit allows full-time foreign students who are enrolled in a third level educational institution outside Ireland to come to Ireland and gain work experience.
An Internship employment permit is issued for only 12 months and it cannot be renewed.
Contract for Services Employment Permit
The Ireland Contract for Services Employment Permit is issued to foreign workers who are still employed by a foreign company, but who come to Ireland to work on behalf of their employer, who has been contracted by an Irish national.
Sport and Cultural Employment Permit
The Ireland Sport and Cultural Employment Permit is issued to foreign nationals whose qualifications, skills, experience or knowledge in the field of sports and culture can help the development of these fields in Ireland.
Exchange Agreement Employment Permit
The Ireland Exchange Agreement Employment Permit is available to foreign workers who are coming to Ireland to work under an international exchange agreement, to which Ireland is part of, such as The Fulbright Programme, The International Association for the Exchange of Students for Technical Experience (IAESTE), or AIESEC.
Reactivation Employment Permit
The Ireland Reactivation Employment Permit is available to former Employment Permit holders who lost their right to work in Ireland, but not due to their own fault. For example, if it was due to workplace exploitation or abuse.
Applying for an Ireland Work Permit
Because Ireland is part of the EU, other EU/EEA/Swiss nationals can freely move to Ireland and take up employment, without the need of prior authorization.
If you are not a citizen of an EU or EEA member state or Switzerland, then you will most likely have to apply for an Ireland work permit. However, even in this case there are some exemptions.
You are exempt from an Ireland work permit (ie. you can work without an employment permit), if you fall under one of the following categories:
- You are an Ireland Student Visa holder.
- International students can only work up to 20 hours a week during the school year, and full time (40 hours) during the holidays.
- You are the foreign national spouse, civil partner or parent of an Irish citizen.
- You have received refugee status in Ireland.
- You have received permission to remain on humanitarian grounds.
- You are carrying out scientific research for an approved research organisation.
- You are a postgraduate student and the employment is a required part of your course.
Ireland Work Permit Requirements
The requirements you have to fulfill to be eligible for an Ireland work permit are:
- You must have either a work contract or job offer from an Irish company.
- Unless you are applying for a Critical Skills Employment Permit, your employer has to pass the Labour Markets Needs Test, which is used to ensure that the Irish employer could not find an Irish or EU/EEA/Swiss citizen instead who would be suited for the job.
- If you are applying for a Critical Skills Employment Permit your minimum annual salary must be at least €30,000 or €80,000, depending on the occupation.
- If you are applying for a General Employment Permit, your minimum annual salary must be at least €30,000.
- For any other type of Ireland work permit, the annual minimum salary must meet the National Minimum Wage.
- At least 50% of the employers in the Irish company that is hiring you must be EU/EEA/Swiss nationals.
Ireland work permit document checklist
You also have to attach several documents to the online application system when applying for your Ireland work permit. The documents change depending on the permit you are applying for, but include:
- A copy of your passport, which shows your picture, signature, and personal details.
- Passport-size picture in line with Ireland photo requirements.
- A copy of the work contract signed by you and the employer.
- If you are a resident in Ireland at the time of application, a copy of your current immigration stamp.
- Details of a contact person: name, position in company, phone number and email address.
- Relevant Registration/Pin or License number of the company issued by the appropriate Irish Regulatory bodies or Government Ministers.
- Copy of the letter of support by IDA/Enterprise Ireland, if applicable.
- Details of your employer, such as company registration number, address, name, and relevant certificates from authorized bodies.
- Details of your employment, such as your salary, work responsibilities, duties, and duration.
Who should submit the application for an Ireland work permit?
The application for an Irish work permit can be submitted by either you (the foreign employee) or your employer.
If you are transferring from a foreign company to the Irish branch of that company (intra-company transfer), your employer in your home country can submit the application on your behalf as well.
Where can I submit the application?
You (or your employer) have to submit the application for an Ireland work permit online through EPOS, the Employment Permits Online System.
When you start an online application, you will receive a number, known as MyWork-ID, which allows you to pause the application and resume it later where you left off. However, once you start an Ireland work permit application, you will have to complete it within 28 days, since after that, your data will be lost.
The application process
When you start an application for a work permit, you will be asked for which type of work permit you are applying for (see the types of Irish work permits below), so you can be redirected to the appropriate application form. If you are an experienced user, you can simply select the form yourself. If this is the first time you are applying, however, you will receive assistance, should you select the option“Help me choose Employment Permit Application Form”.
Once you are directed to the appropriate application form, you have to enter all the information that is required. The form is divided into the following sections:
- You will receive a short description about the type of Irish work permit you are applying for, and you have to enter your personal information as well as whether an Agent is helping you complete the form.
- Registration details.
- Details of foreign national.
- Details of redundancy.
- Details of employment.
- Details of remuneration.
- Final details.
Throughout the application process, you can complete any section you like and save your progress up to there. You can also go back and re-edit the information you entered.
Attaching the documents
You will have to attach the required documents on the application form electronically (see a checklist below). There is a drop down box which lists the required documents. You have to select the document you are attaching and upload it. This means you have to have access to a scanner.
Your electronic documents can be in the following formats: PDF, PNG or JPEG/JPG and no larger than 10MB.
In addition, once you complete sections of the application form, you will have to print them and sign them, or send them to a relevant authority to sign them, as required.
After the documents have been signed, you will have to scan them and upload them to the online system again.
Paying the fee
Before you complete the application form, you will have to pay the Ireland work permit processing fee. You will have to pay it online, via a credit or debit card.
See the Ireland visa fees here.
The Ireland employment permit processing time is about 13 weeks.
Applying for an Ireland Work Visa
If you receive permission to work in Ireland (ie. an Irish employment permit), you can apply for an Ireland work visa. A work visa is a type of Ireland long stay (D) visa, which allows the holder to enter Ireland with the purpose of staying longer than three months.
Where the DBEI issues Irish employment permits, it is INIS (the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service) who issues the actual work visa for Ireland.
However, not every non-EU/EEA has to apply for a work visa.
The Ireland work visa is only a pre-entry requirement. This means that it allows the holder to travel to Ireland, but once you arrive at the port of entry (airport/seaport), you will have to go through Border Control.
The immigration officer at Border Control reviews your documents and they decide whether you are eligible to enter Ireland or not. They could send you back even if you are in posession of a valid Irish work visa.
Ireland work visa requirements
When you submit your application for an Ireland employment visa, you must have several supporting documents, such as:
- Ireland work visa application form.
- Your valid passport.
- Photos in accordance with the Ireland photo requirements.
- Proof of paid work visa fees.
- Proof of legal residence in the country from which you are applying.
- A letter that explains that your purpose of travel is gaining employment.
- Evidence that you have accommodation in Ireland. If your employer is providing you with accommodation, state the accommodation details.
- Details of previous visas (if applicable).
- Proof of sufficient funds, in the form of bank statements from the previous six months.
- The bank statements have to be in headed paper from the bank.
- They must show your name, address, account number and account type.
- They must show all transactions from the last six months. If there are any large or unusual transactions, provide an explanation.
- Proof you will return to your country.
- A self-addressed, pre-paid envelope.
- Your Employment Permit from the Department of Jobs, Enterprise & Innovation.
- Your work contract or details of job offer.
- A letter from your employer in Ireland, which:
- Confirms they have employed you and states the details of your employment and the work you will do.
- States the salary you will receive.
- Proof of qualifications (such as educational certificates or other qualifications).
- Details of previous work experience.
- Proof of medical insurance. You must take out private medical insurance in Ireland covering at least €25,000 for cases of accidents, disease and hospitalization.
In addition, there is a set of standard requirements everyone must have when they submit an Ireland visa application.
All the documents that you submit have to be originals, unless it is otherwise stated.
They must all be in English – if they are not they must be translated and notarized. You must include both the translation and the original in the submission.
You must make copies of all the documents you submit. The originals, such as your passport, work permit, and other essential documents will be returned to you, so you must include a return address. If you have any specific documents you want to be returned, you should include a list stating them.
Submitting the application online
You have to submit the application for an Ireland work visa online, via AVATS, the Irish online visa application facility.
Once you have accessed AVATS, you have to fill in the application form, print the completed summary of the application form, and submit the form along with the required documents to the address that will be specified on the summary.
Click here to see a more detailed Ireland visa application process.
The Ireland work visa processing time is eight weeks. However, if you have any missing documents or it is the peak travel time of year, the processing time could be delayed. Therefore, apply well in advance of your intended time of travel, but no earlier than three months.
Ireland Work Visa Residence Permit
If the immigration officers at Border Control allow you to enter Ireland, they will put a stamp on your passport which shows the days you are permitted to stay in the country.
Before those days are up, you have to register with immigration and receive your Ireland residence permit. Everyone non-EU/EEA/Swiss national has to register with immigration if they want to stay in Ireland for longer than 90 days.
If you live in Dublin, you have to register at the Dublin registration office. If you live outside Dublin, you must register at the nearest registration office to you.
At the registration office, you will also receive a stamp on your passport, which shows you have permission to work, such as a Stamp 1 or 1A.
Ireland Work Visa Duration and Renewal
The Ireland work visa itself is only valid for a maximum of 90 days. However, the duration of the Ireland employment permits differs based on the specific permit.
Most employment permits are issued for 24 months initially, and can be renewed for up to five years, which is when you can apply for permanent residency in Ireland.
You can renew an Irish work permit through EPOS.
Can you go from an Ireland work visa to permanent residence?
Yes, after you have lived in Ireland with an employment permit (work visa), for five consecutive years, you can apply for an Ireland permanent residence permit.
If you live five out of nine years of “reckonable residence” in Ireland, you can also apply for Irish citizenship, provided you meet the criteria of course.