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Employment Permits (Amendment) Act 2014

In general, non-EEA nationals must have an employment permit to work in Ireland. EEA and Swiss nationals do not need an employment permit. Under the Employment Permits Acts 2003–2014 there are nine types of employment permit including a General Employment Permit, a Critical Skills Employment Permit and a Dependant/Partner/Spouse Employment Permit. 

The Act also provides that a foreign national without an employment permit, who took all reasonable steps to get one, can take civil action against their employer to compensate them for work done or services rendered.

General Employment Permits are issued by the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation. Either the employer or the employee can apply for a permit which must be based on an offer of employment. Permits are issued to the employee and include a statement of the employee’s rights and entitlements. An employee with an employment permit has all the employment rights of Irish or EEA citizens for the duration of the employment permit.

Generally applications for General Employment Permits must have minimum annual pay of €30,000. Pay includes the salary for the job and health insurance. There are some exceptions, but applications are considered on a case by case basis.


The applicant must have the qualifications, skills and experience required for the job and must be directly employed and paid by an employer. General Employment Permit applications from recruitment agencies and other intermediaries are not acceptable. The employer must be trading in Ireland, registered with Revenue and with the Companies Registration Office. The employer cannot deduct recruitment expenses from the worker’s pay or retain their personal documents.

A General Employment Permit will not be issued to companies where the granting of the permit would mean that more than 50 per cent of the employees would be non-EEA nationals. However, this requirement may be waived in the case of start-up companies or where the applicant will be the only employee.

Labour market needs test

All new applications for General Employment Permits include evidence that a labour market needs test has been carried out, with some limited exceptions that are listed in the Act. 

Duration and renewal

A General Employment Permit is issued first for two years and then may be renewed for a further three years. If a person has worked for five consecutive years on a work permit they may no longer need a permit to work in Ireland. When a person has been legally living and working in Ireland for five years on a work permit they can apply for long-term residence to the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS). Successful applicants are granted extended residence permission for a further five years and do not need a work permit to work in Ireland.

An employment permit is not necessary if the worker has:

  • Permission to remain as the spouse, civil partner or dependant of an Irish or EEA national
  • Swiss nationality
  • Been granted refugee status – whether through the normal process or as a programme refugee
  • Been granted temporary leave to remain on humanitarian grounds, having been in the asylum process
  • Been granted leave to remain as the parent of an Irish citizen
  • Specific immigration permission to live and work in Ireland
  • Permission to set up a business in Ireland
  • Been registered as a student.

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