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Ireland Work Visas from South Africa

Can South Africans work in Ireland? Yes, they can, depending on their eligibility. If you are a South African citizen who is interested in living and working in the Republic of Ireland — and perhaps eventually applying for permanent residency — then you have a variety of options to consider. When applying for a work visa in Ireland from South Africa, the success of your application will depend on your circumstances, qualifications and occupation.

To speak to an advisor about getting a Republic of Ireland visa as a South African citizen — including more details about the eligibility criteria and how to apply, as well as to receive bespoke advice for your immigration situation — reach out to one of our Immigration Advice Service (IAS) advisers today. Call us on +353 061 518 025, or contact us online.

Please note that we do not provide jobs or sponsorship to work in Ireland. We’re immigration advisers and lawyers, so we only help with processing work visa if you already have a job offer from a company in Ireland.

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    What is the Irish Work Visa?

    If you want to work in Ireland from South Africa then you need to apply for a visa. The Irish Work Visa is an umbrella term for a set of different visas that allow non-European Union (EU), non-European Economic Area (EAA) or non-Swiss nationals to work in the Republic of Ireland.

    Usually, South African citizens will be required to prove that they have a job offer from an Irish employer before they can apply for a work visa. The employer making the offer will also have to demonstrate that no suitable candidates are available from the EU, EEA or Switzerland. With other kinds of work visa, South African applicants will have to have some form of sponsorship from an Irish organisation, such as an athletic body.

    Some of the most common kinds of work visa for Ireland are as follows:

    • Critical Skills Employment Permit
    • General Employment Permit
    • Dependent / Partner / Spouse Employment Permit
    • Intra-Company Transfer Employment Permit
    • Internship Employment Permit
    • Third Level Graduate Scheme
    • Contract for Services Employment Permit
    • Sport and Cultural Employment Permit
    • Exchange Agreement Employment Permit
    • Reactivation Employment Permit
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    Types of Ireland Work Visas and Permits

    If you are considering a work visa for Ireland from South Africa, then you need to decide which kind of permit to apply for. Ireland work visa requirements for South African citizens can vary depending on their situation, occupations and qualifications. Here are some of your options:

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    The Critical Skills Employment Permit

    If you are in a profession that is in high demand in Ireland, then you could be eligible for the Critical Skills Employment Permit. This kind of visa is designed to encourage people who are working in key professions to bring their skills to Ireland. This permit generally lasts for up to two years, after which you have the opportunity to embark on the route to permanent residency. To be eligible, your profession needs to be listed on Ireland’s Critical Skills Occupations List.

    Occupation categories on the list include the following (the list below is not exhaustive and can also change):

    • Academics
    • Accountants and tax consultants
    • Actuaries, economists and statisticians
    • Animators
    • Architects, town planners and surveyors
    • Artistic, literary and media professionals
    • Biochemists
    • Biologists
    • Business, research and administrative professionals
    • Civil engineers
    • Construction project managers
    • Electrical engineers
    • Engineering professionals
    • Environmental health professionals
    • Façade designers
    • Health and social services managers and directors
    • Health professionals
    • ICT and telecommunications professionals
    • Management consultants
    • Medical laboratory scientists
    • Medical practitioners
    • Nursing and midwifery professionals
    • Product managers and developers
    • Programmers and software development professionals
    • Psychologists
    • Speech and language therapists
    • Quality and regulatory professionals
    • Science professionals
    • Social science professionals
    • Teaching and educational professionals
    • Web design and development professionals
    • Welfare professionals and social workers

    The General Employment Permit

    The General Employment Permit is for professionals whose occupation is not on Ireland’s Critical Skills Employment Permit list. To be eligible for this permit, you need a job offer from an employer in Ireland. The employer must also prove that there are no suitable individuals from the EU, EEA or Switzerland who could fill the position. Usually, this permit lasts for up to two years and is renewable.

    The Dependant, Partner and Spouse Employment Permit

    Dependants, partners and spouses of holders of the Critical Skills Employment Permit (and holders of some other kinds of work permit) can accompany the person to Ireland with this visa. In some cases, they can also work in Ireland without needing to apply for a separate work permit. You need to provide evidence of your relationship to the primary permit holder in order to obtain this visa.

    To be eligible to work in Ireland while on this permit, you usually need to gain employment in a role on the Critical Skills Employment Permit list. The duration of the Dependent, Partner and Spouse Employment Permit is often tied to the length of the primary permit holder’s visa and can also be renewed alongside their visa.

    The Intra-Company Transfer Employment Permit

    People working for multinational companies that wish to transfer them to Ireland can apply for the Intra-Company Transfer Employment Permit (ICT). Usually, the length of this visa is tied to the duration of the transfer role, although this visa also has different time limit restrictions depending on the type of position. There is also a minimum salary level requirement.

    The Intra-Company Transfer Employment Permit is designed to make it easier for employees with specialist skills to move to Irish locations and outlets of their companies. They will need to prove that they have qualifications and experience for the transfer role. The ICT permit is renewable.

    The Internship Employment Permit

    The Internship Employment Permit is suitable for South African students who are not currently studying in Ireland but would like to gain work experience in the country. To be eligible, you have to be a full-time student at an eligible institution outside of Ireland. Either the student themselves or the prospective employer offering the internship can make the application.

    The maximum duration of the Internship Employment Permit is 12 months and it is not renewable.

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      The Third Level Graduate Scheme

      Ireland’s Third Level Graduate Scheme offered international students who have graduated from an Irish university (or other eligible institutions) to remain in Ireland to work. Usually, this is for 12 months, although in some cases can be renewed for another 12 months. People with this permit can generally work in any kind of job in Ireland. To be eligible, you have to have passed your course of study.

      The Contract for Services Employment Permit

      The Contract for Services Employment Permit lets individuals working for a company outside of Ireland to provide professional services within Ireland. These services could include temporary projects, consultancy work or specialized services.

      The Sport and Cultural Employment Permit

      The Sport and Cultural Employment Permit is for sports or cultural professions who want to take up opportunities in Ireland in their fields. This can include roles as athletes, coaches or performers.

      This permit requires an employer or organization in Ireland to sponsor the individual. The length of this visa is dependent on the duration of the opportunity being offered, for instance, an acting role in a film. The applicant must prove that they have skills and experience appropriate to the role. This kind of permit is also renewable.

      The Exchange Agreement Employment Permit

      The Exchange Agreement Employment Permit is issued by the Irish government. It allows individuals to come to Ireland from other countries and participate in approved educational, professional, cultural or research exchange programmes. The permit usually lasts for the duration of the exchange programme.

      The Reactivation Employment Permit

      Previous holders of Irish employment permits who want to return to Ireland to work in the same occupation can apply for the Reactivation Employment Permit. This permit is designed for individuals who have stopped meeting the requirements of their original work permit through no fault of their own. For instance, work permit holders who experienced poor treatment in a role in Ireland — and had to leave their job as a result — can reactivate their work visa under this category.

      Countryside landscape in Ireland

      How to apply for an Ireland Work Visa

      There are a number of steps you must take to apply for an Irish work visa as a South African citizen. These steps depend on the specific type of work permit that you are seeking and can vary or change. However, here is a general guide to the overall procedure:

      1. Check your eligibility for your chosen work visa
        This can include conditions such as qualifications, skills and whether you have a job offer from an Irish employer. Employers making the offer will usually have to prove that this position can’t be filled by an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen.
      2. Gather your documents
        Generally, the documents required for an Ireland work visa are your passport, job offer in letter form, proof of experience, academic certificates and proof of funds.
      3. Apply online
        You have to submit your application via the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) website. Alternatively, you can do so in person through the Irish embassy in South Africa, based in Pretoria.
      4. Pay your application fee
        All work visa applications will require you to pay a processing fee (unless an employer, organisation or sponsor is paying it on your behalf). Fees vary depending on the type of work permit.
      5. Embassy interview and biometric testing
        Depending on the type of visa you are applying for, you may be required to attend an interview at the Irish embassy in South Africa. You might also have to provide biometric information such as fingerprints.
      6. Await approval
        Applications generally take eight weeks to process but again, this depends on the kind of work visa that you are applying for. Bear in mind that Ireland work visa processing time can take longer at the peak travel time of the year. If the Irish government approves your application then you will receive a formal letter.
      7. Collect your visa
        Once you have received your letter of approval, you will have to collect it from the Irish embassy in South Africa. Please contact the embassy to check their collection arrangements.

      Regardless of the complexities of your case, we have the expertise to help obtain your visa to Ireland. Contact us

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        Ireland work visa cost

        The Ireland work permit cost depends on the kind of visa that you are applying for and also on the duration of your proposed stay. Fees can change, so always make sure to check the Irish Department of Justice and Equality website for the most up-to-date costs. Generally, first-time application fees range from €300 to €1000. In some cases, you can get a 90% refund if your application is rejected. Renewal application fees range from €500 to €1500.

        There are no fees for Dependent / Partner / Spouse Permits or for Exchange Agreement Employment Permits.

        Paying the visa application fee

        There are a number of ways to pay your visa application fee, including:

        1. Online payment
          If you are submitting your application fee online via the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) website, then you can usually pay your processing fee alongside that. The exception would be if a third party is paying your fee, for instance, a sponsoring organisation.
        2. Bank transfer
          The Irish embassy in South Africa might provide bank transfer details for you to pay your fee. However, it is best to check with the embassy in advance for up-to-date arrangements.
        3. In-person payment
          You may also be able to pay in person with cash or card at the Irish embassy. Again, it is best to check with the embassy in advance.
        4. Cheque
          You may also be able to pay your visa application fee by cheque, made out to the Irish embassy in South Africa. As before, check arrangements in advance with the embassy.

        How do you apply for permanent residency in Ireland?

        Temporary work permit holders in Ireland may eventually want to apply for permanent residency. This type of residency is not automatically guaranteed to temporary work permit holders and has its own set of criteria that needs to be fulfilled.

        Generally, the Irish government will take into account the current type of work visa that you are on and how long you have been legally living in the country. They will also assess your skills, qualifications and experience, as well as your financial situation.

        To be eligible to apply for permanent residency, you may have to go through an initial process of obtaining Stamp 4 Permission. This is a type of residency that is more flexible than a lot of work permits and allows you to stay in Ireland long-term. Stamp 4 Permission can generally be seen as an intermediate step between a temporary work permit and becoming a long-term resident.

        Stamp 4 Permission status can also be granted to some individuals for the purposes of family reunification. The spouses, partners, and dependent family members of Critical Skills Employment Permit holders can also become eligible for Stamp 4 permission.

        Often, to be eligible for permanent residency, you must have been living in Ireland continuously under Stamp 4 Permission status first. “Continuous residence” means not being away from Ireland for long periods of time, for instance, extended stays in South Africa.

        To be eligible for permanent residence in Ireland, you will also have to demonstrate financial stability, usually in the form of bank statements. This is because the Irish government will want reassurance that you won’t be reliant on the benefits system to survive. You will also need to prove that you are a person of “good character” by providing evidence that you have no criminal record.

        How Can IAS Help?

        Understanding the Irish immigration system can be complicated. Immigration Advice Service can help and advise you with navigating the work visa application process from South Africa.

        We are experienced, sympathetic immigration lawyers working within the field of international immigration. We have the tools and expertise to assist you, regardless of your personal circumstances or the complexity of your case.

        Whether you’re looking for assistance with working out what work permit is for you, unsure of how to navigate the Irish application process, or just need to speak to an immigration professional regarding your case, we can help.

        For more information about the services we provide and how we can help you with applying for Irish work visas from South Africa, reach out to a member of our team today. Call us on +353 061 518 025 or contact us online at

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                  Frequently Asked Questions

                  A South African cannot work in Ireland without a visa. If a South African citizen is visiting Ireland on a tourist basis, then they can stay for up to 90 days without a visa. However, if you want to stay for longer, or study or work in Ireland, then you will need to apply for the appropriate permit.

                  You must be a minimum of 18 to apply for a work visa in Ireland but there is no upper age limit. The Irish government is more concerned with the skills, experience and qualifications of applicants.

                  Qualifying for a temporary work visa in Ireland does not automatically qualify you for permanent residency later down the line. However, some types of work permits do offer pathways to permanent residency.

                  The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is a type of English language proficiency test that assesses your abilities In English. Ireland work visa IELTS requirements vary depending on the type of permit and job role. However, as South Africa is an English speaking country, then you won’t have to sit an IELTS test as part of your work visa application for Ireland.