What Are Irish Work Permits?
An employment permit is an immigration permit that non-EEA foreign nationals can apply for in order to work and live in Ireland for a long-term period (over 3 months). Irish Work Permits are usually valid for up to 24 months, though this can vary according to the type of job you do and therefore the type of employment permit you need.
The most common employment permits in Ireland are:
- Critical Skills Employment Permit
- Dependant/Partner/Spouse Employment Permit
- General Employment Permit
Other employment permits available in Ireland are:
- Contract for Services Employment Permit
- Exchange Agreement Employment Permit
- Intra-Company Transfer Employment Permit
- Internship Employment Permit
- Reactivation Employment Permit
- Sport and Cultural Employment Permit.
- What Are Irish Work Permits?
- What is the General Employment Permit?
- Am I Eligible for a General Employment Permit?
- What is the Minimum Salary for a General Work Permit Ireland?
- What Documents Do I Need for General Work Permit Ireland?
- How to Apply for a General Work Permit?
- When Do I Qualify for Long-Term Residence with a General Work Permit?
- How can IAS help?
- Frequently Asked Questions
What is the General Employment Permit?
The General Work Permit allows foreign nationals to take a job in Ireland that has a domestic labour shortage.The General Employment Permit covers the widest variety of jobs and therefore is one of the most common work permits available.
The General Employment Permit is not available for applicants of roles that are listed on the Ineligible List of Occupations for Employment Permits.
General Work Permits are usually given to last 24 months of continuous employment by the same employer or organisation. If you wish to continue with your job and your employer after 24 months, assuming you meet the criteria you can renew the work permit for up to three additional years. If you stay in Ireland to work using a General Employment Permit for five years or longer, this will make you eligible for long-term residency and you can apply for Stamp 4.
Once you have completed one year of work in Ireland on a work permit, you can become eligible to bring your family to live with you in Ireland. You must be able to prove that you can financially support your family and will not require government social welfare payments to support you.
Am I Eligible for a General Employment Permit?
In order to be eligible, you have to be from a country outside of the European Economic Area, including the EU, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland, and the UK. In most cases, you cannot apply from inside Ireland and must apply from outside the country.
Some nations also need to apply for a work visa, but this is not the case for South African nationals.
In general, if you fit the eligibility criteria, you can apply for the General Employment Permit:
- You are from a non-EEA country
- The job you have been offered is not on the Ineligible List of Occupations for Employment Permits
- You have been offered a minimum salary of €34,000 per annum (as of January 2024; this is set to rise to €39,000 by January 2025)
- Your employer has conducted a Labour Market Needs Test with your role before offering the position to you – see below for list of exemptions
- Your employer fits the ‘50/50’ workforce rule, meaning that over 50% of the workforce must be EU citizens
- You do not hold a criminal record.
When You Don’t Need to Submit Proof of Labour Market Needs Test
Most new applications require proof of the Labour Markets Needs Test having been conducted on their job. However, there are some exceptions:
- Your job is listed on the Critical Skills Occupations List
- The salary is above €64,000 per year
- Your job has been recommended by IDA Ireland or Enterprise Ireland
- You have been working as a carer for someone with exceptional medical requirements and who is now dependent on your care
- You were previously employed under an Irish employment permit but were made redundant, which you have notified with the Irish Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment.
What is the Minimum Salary for a General Work Permit Ireland?
Most jobs must pay a minimum of €34,000 per year in order for you to be eligible to apply for an Irish General Work Permit (as of January 2024). However, there are certain exceptions where the salary can pay less than this, but you must meet specific conditions. Examples of circumstances that will be considered for a lower minimum salary include the following:
- If you’re offered a job as a meat processing or horticultural operative, you may be paid €30,000 (with a minimum hourly rate of €14.79)
- If you’re offered a job as a healthcare assistant (with a level 5 QQI qualification or equivalent, or obtain one within two years of your job start date), you may be paid €27,000
- If you’re offered a job as a home carer (with a level 5 QQI qualification or obtain one within two years of your job start date), you may be paid €27,000
Note that the above information is correct at the time of writing in January 2024. However, the Irish government plan to raise these thresholds and eventually do away with the concept of minimum income exceptions, as all types of General Employment Permit are set to rise in increments to eventually reach a minimum threshold of €39,000 by January 2026. Therefore, it’s important to ensure that you are aware of what the current thresholds are at the time of your application.
For the most recent and up-to-date information about the General Employment Permit, reach out to one of our advisers on +353 061 518 025 or contact us online.
What Documents Do I Need for General Work Permit Ireland?
You will have to submit several documents with your online application. These include:
- A copy of your valid passport
- A passport photograph
- Proof of your work contract signed by both you and your employer
- Details of your employment, such as your salary, responsibilities, and employment duration
- Proof of your qualifications relevant to the position
- Details of a contact in Ireland within your company, including name, position in the company, a phone number and email address
- Relevant Registration/Pin or Licence number of the company issued by the relevant Irish Regulatory bodies or Government Minister
- Copy of the letter of support by IDA/Enterprise Ireland, if applicable
- Details of your employer, including;
- Company registration name and number
- Company address
- Nature of business
- Number of employees
- Proof of Monthly P30 return from the last 3 months, or
- Receipt of P30 return issued through Revenue online Service,
- and appropriate certification from authorised bodies.
If you are a HGV driver, you will also be required to submit a copy of your CE or C1E License.
How to Apply for a General Work Permit?
In most cases, you must apply online from outside of Ireland.
You will be required to submit all the relevant documents to pay a fee, unless you are exempt.The fee for a General Employment Permit is:
- €500 for 6 months or less, or
- €1000 for up to 24 months.
Some applicants might be eligible for a no-fee application under the following conditions:
- The employer or authorised agent holds a confirmed charitable status by the Revenue Commissioners
- Non-EEA nationals who are married to or in a civil partnership with an EEA national.
Once you have been approved to travel to Ireland, you will receive permission to remain from the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS).
Once you are in Ireland, you must register at your local Garda station, or with the Burgh Quay Registration Office if you live in Dublin. You will be issued an Irish Residence Permit, which you must carry with you at all times.
Applying for work permits can be a complicated process, as you need to apply online but may also be required to submit documents or attend interviews in-person at your local Irish Embassy. Considering the high fee of the application, you want to be sure you have the correct documents and don’t make any mistakes with your application to avoid refusal or a prolonged application process.
When Do I Qualify for Long-Term Residence with a General Work Permit?
If you have been in Ireland working lawfully on a General Employment Permit for 5 years or longer, you could be eligible to apply for Stamp 4.
The Irish Stamp System is an immigration permission system that allows foreign nationals to work and live in Ireland on a long-term basis. Stamp 4 allows foreign nationals to work in Ireland in any profession, and also allows you to operate a business, access state funds, and accrue time spent in Ireland that eventually can entitle you to apply for citizenship.
You can also become eligible for Stamp 4 if you:
- Live and work in Ireland with a valid Critical Skills Employment permit for 2 years, or
- Live and work in Ireland as a researcher under a valid Hosting Agreement for 2 years.
You may also be eligible for other stamp options; each situation is unique and there are lots of different options available for foreign nationals to remain in Ireland.
Moving abroad for work is an exciting opportunity for many South Africans who wish to spend time in a different country, whether it’s to gain valuable work experience in a particular industry or organisation, or simply to experience a different culture and different way of life.
We at IAS understand that moving to Ireland for work is a big step, and that there’s a lot of logistics that need to be organised that can feel overwhelming. We understand that the Irish immigration system and work permit options can be confusing, and wonder whether you should be applying for a different permit other than the General Employment Permit or whether you should be looking into a different immigration route entirely.
That’s why we are here. Our team of expert immigration lawyers are here to guide you through every step of the immigration application process, and can advise you on a wide range of legal matters regarding your move to Ireland. We are here to help make your move and time in Ireland as seamless as possible.
Last modified on February 12th, 2024 at 2:24 pm
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In general, the processing time of the application for a General Employment Permit is approximately 8 weeks. This does not include any additional time it may take you prior to the application to gather the relevant documentation you need for the application process.
You must also account for delays in your application processing due to being required to submit additional documentation, or even attending an interview, if the immigration officer requires further information about your circumstances. It’s therefore very important that you do not make arrangements to travel to Ireland or begin work until you have been approved for your work permit.
Applicants of the Irish General Work Permit are unable to move their family to Ireland with them to begin with (under the terms of the work permit – there may be other options available to your family members that allow them to enter Ireland under a different permit or immigration system).
However, once you have lawfully worked in Ireland for at least 1 year on a General Employment Permit, assuming you meet the criteria for permit renewal, you will be allowed to bring your immediate family members with you through your General Work Permit. You will need to prove that you can support your family financially and will not require state support.
The Labour Market Needs Test required the employer to ensure job opportunities are offered first and foremost to its Irish national population before seeking foreign employees to fill positions in Irish-based companies and offering them general employment permits.
The Labour Market Needs Test requires employers to advertise a job vacancy:
- With the Department of Social Protection Employment Services/EURES employment network for at minimum of 4 weeks, and
- In a national newspaper for at minimum of 3 days, and
- In either an online employment website or local newspaper for 3 days.