Hang on for a long and wild ride! I get more questions about work permits than any other three topics combined.
The answers make this a very, very long page. But, rather than split up the information, I believe in giving it all to you in one go instead of requiring a million little clicks. So, get ready to do some scrolling!
The short of it is
this: EU citizens and Irish citizens and people from Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland, need no work permits. Neither do their spouses after the appropriate paperwork is filed. Almost everyone else does. The up-to-date
rules and regulations concerning work permits can be found at Department
of Enterprise, Trade and Employment work permit page.
Actually, the name of the Department has changed. With employment tanking, the government took a bold step to deal with the 450,000 people on the dole. They dropped the word Employment from the title and replaced it with the word Innovation.
There you go. Problem solved.
Job Offer First - Then the Permit or Green Card
You can't just apply for a work permit or green card and then come here to look around and find work.
You can only get such permits AFTER you have a job offer in hand. If you have been offered a job paying at least €60,000 you'll have no problems and will gain the Green Card easily. Some few exceptions are made for those with a job offer paying between €30,000 and €60,000 and such job seekers may be granted a work permit or green card. Those of you with a job offer worth less than €30,000 per year will find it exceedingly difficult to get a work permit.
The Green Card is more desirable and allows you to gain permanent residency after only two years in Ireland.
If you want to check if your skillset is in demand - trust me, it probably isn't - you can check out the two largest Irish job sites - irishjobs.ie and .fas.ie
Different rules apply
if you're setting up your own business.
Ineligible Jobs - No Workee & No Payee
A huge host of jobs are formally excluded unless they pay €60,000 per year. The application form for Work Permits lists the extensive categories of workers who are barred from even applying if they will be paid less.
This includes all clerical and administrative staff, all sales staff, all hotel staff except chefs, all general labourers, most construction workers, all childcare workers and just about any other non-technical job you can think of.
Read the list yourself at http://www.deti.ie/labour/workpermits/guidelines.htm by clicking Guide to Work Permits and then checking out Appendix A at the end of the document.
In 2010, excluded jobs included:
In short, high skills job seekers can apply, the rest of ye don't bother. So engineers, programmers, medical people and the like are welcome. Lawyers and accountants - the government needs you more than ever to keep track of all the finagling that the banks have been up to.
- All Clerical and Administrative Positions
- All General Operatives/Labourers
- All Operator and Production Staff
- All Domestic Workers (including Carers in the Home and Childminders)
- All Work Riders (Horse Racing)
- In the category 'Sales Staff'
All retail sales vacancies, sales representatives, Supervisory/ Specialist Sales
- In the category 'Transport Staff':
All drivers including HGV
- In the category Childcare Workers:
Nursery/ Crèche Workers, Child Minder/ Nanny
- In the category 'Hotel Tourism and Catering':
All staff except chefs
- In the category 'Craft Workers and Apprentice/Trainee Craft Workers':
Bookbinder, Bricklayer, Cabinet Maker, Carpenter/Joiner, Carton
Maker, Fitter - Construction Plant, Electrician, Instrumentation
Craftsperson, Fitter, Tiler - Floor/Wall, Mechanic - Heavy Vehicles,
Instrumentation Craftsperson, Metal Fabricator, Mechanic - Motor,
Originator, Painter And Decorator, Plumber, Printer, Engineer -
Refrigeration, Sheet Metal Worker, Tool Maker, Vehicle Body Repairer,
Machinist – Wood, Plasterers and Welders
The Big Test
Remember that Ireland doesn't want you to take a job from an EU citizen, so they put a big spanner in the works. Any employer who wants to hire you must pay you a minimum of 30,000 Euro per year, then pay a 1,500 Euro fee for two years to the Dept. of Trade and submit a labour market test.
The Labour Market Test:
Evidence must be provided that a labour market needs test has been undertaken for the vacancy. Applications should not be submitted unless the Labour Market Needs Test has been completed i.e. vacancy must be advertised with the FS/EURES employment network for at least 8 weeks and additionally in local and national newspapers for six days.
In other words, you have to find an employer willing to pay you a decent salary, they must hold open the job for two months, advertise it and find no suitable EU citizens with the necessary skills. The bureaucrats charged with the duty of protecting Irish jobs have to be convinced that you are unique even if you can find an employer willing to go through this rigamarole. And then, the employer has to be willing to pay a solid chunk of money to the government for the privilege of employing you.
It Ain't Gonna Happen
In short, unless you've got the kind of high end job that makes governments and employers salivate at the thought of employing you, fagedaboudit.
The distinctly Work Permit Unfriendly rules that come into effect in June 2009 are outlined in this press release.
Why They're Making It Harder for Non-EEA Nationals
My wife and I moved to Ireland in 1992 when 20pc unemployment was the norm. Friends told us they’d probably hold a parade in our honour since everyone else was lining up to head out of the country.
Well, 1992 is back. Unemployment is rising swiftly and Ireland has the worst performing economy in the industrial world. The blame lies directly with the government which encouraged and enflamed a housing bubble which shot inflation skyward between 2003 and 2008. Tens of thousands of jobs for the boys were added to the government bill paid for by taxes on houses sold. When the music stopped, the banks were broke, the developers bust and the government in debt for 1 out of every 2 euro which it was spending.
Ireland is now painfully adjusting to deflation. The well cushioned fat cats, including the judiciary and legislature and the bankers, are still riding high. The rest of us are pulling back hard.
Naturally, the government does not blame itself for its ineptitudes and larcenies. It has decided that YOU, non-Irish non-nationals, are to blame.
I know, I know. You didn't even live here when the mess was made. Nonetheless, you're the guilty parties and the government is determined to make you suffer.
Non-EEA workers who get jobs worth €60,000 per year or more are still invited to share the Irish experience. The rest of ye? Be gone.
Jobs? They're for the Irish. Or not, as the economy continues to slump.
The Trade and Employment and Innovation!!! Department keeps statistics on work permit numbers and the nationality of
permit holders here.
EU and EEA Citizens
If you have EU/EEA citizenship,
you can work here, whatever your skill level. You don't need an employment permit. The EEA is all European Union nations plus
Iceland and Norway and Liechtenstein. Switzerland is also accorded similar rights.
With regard to general work conditions:
"The main principle that governs the conditions for access to employment for EU workers in the Member States is equal treatment with nationals. Thus, any EU worker shall have the right to take up an activity as an employed person in any Member State irrespective of his place of residence under the same conditions as nationals."
A Residency Permit
cannot be refused unless you are unable to support yourself, and even then,
so long as you can prove that you are looking for work, you may stay. Check
out the pages for EU citizens.
Equally important, the spouses and immediate family of EU citizens may work in Ireland without work permits.
Non EU/EEA Spouse Married to an EU Citizen
However, there is a kicker if you want to work while all the paperwork clears. Here's what the Dept. of Enterprise has to say:
Non-EEA nationals married to EU nationals who are residing in Ireland are required to register their marriage with the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform in order to seek residency in the State on that basis. On receipt of a “Stamp 4” the non-EEA national will not require an employment permit to work in the State. However, the non-EEA national will require an employment permit while their residency application is being considered by the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform.
The current policy in relation to new first time employment permits will apply, however the fee will be waived in these cases. If the non-EEA national is resident in the State, their immigration status must allow them to enter employment.
In order to waive the fee, the following must be submitted with the completed application:
• Cover Letter indicating that this application is for a non-EEA national married to an EU national.
• Copy of the EU spouse’s passport pages showing photograph and personal details.
• Copy of the marriage certificate/marriage licence.
You can read all this for yourself on the Department's page.
Who is the EEA? And what about Switzerland?
Rather than Who, the first question should probably be What. As in What is the EEA.
EEA = European Economic Area. Basically, it's the EU, plus Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein.
The following countries belong to the EEA: Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom.
Although Switzerland is not part of the EEA, it reached an agreement with the EU regarding free movement of persons whereby EU workers and Swiss nationals are now to be treated equally with regard to entry and residence provisions and access to the labour market in many of the member states, and, in particular, Ireland.
EU Accession States
Latvia, Estonia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia, Slovenia, Malta & Cyprus)
The Accession countries
are Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia,
Slovenia, Malta & Cyprus. As of 1st May 2004 Accession
State Nationals no longer require work permits to work in Ireland.
Bulgaria and Romania
The Government announced on Tuesday 24th October 2006 that it would continue to restrict access to the Irish labour market for nationals of Bulgaria and Romania following their Accession to the EU on the 1st January 2007.
Accordingly Bulgarian and Romanian nationals, will continue to require a permit to take up employment in Ireland and the job will continue to be subject to the current requirement for a labour market test. However those who are already in the State on a valid employment permit for an uninterrupted period of 12 months or longer prior to the 31st December 2006 will not need an employment permit.
Employers will be expected to satisfy their labour market requirements from within the European Economic Area (EEA) in the first instance and if this is not possible it will be necessary for them to give preference to Bulgarian and Romanian nationals ahead of non-EEA nationals.
For more details, go to the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment's work permit main page and click on the link about Romanian and Bulgarian nationals.
Passports and Visas
There are some strict passport regulations that affect work permit and green card applicants.
The passport of the foreign national must be in date and valid for at least 3 months after the proposed expiry date of the Work Permit/Green Card. And when applying for permanent residency or unlimited work permit, the applicant's passport must be in date and valid for at least 12 months.
Even to visit Ireland, you may very well need a visa. Check the Visa page.
You may be able to apply
for Irish citizenship in which case you don't need a work permit. Check out
the Citizenship page.
Bondage Slavery (5 Years Before the Mast)
A subscriber asked: Do the new work permits/green cards allow the employee to change jobs? One of the major complaints with the 'old work permit' is that we are all bound to the one employer.
As I read it, the new rules say "yes" but they mean "no".
Here's the wording for the work permit from the Department Guide:
Am I free to move employer?
"If this is your first work permit in the State then (apart from in exceptional circumstances) you are normally expected to stay with your initial employer for a period of 12 months, but then you may move employer provided that a new application for a work permit is made and that a labour market needs test has been undertaken."
So, yes you may move IF you manage to get a new employer AND a new work permit AND the labour market test is done AND someone lays another 1,500 Euro on the line.
I read this section rapidly when it first came out and thought, great! Finally, people can move employers after a year. But, now after rereading it closely, HA! It's hard enough to get one work permit. How in the world will anyone get a second one?
But, if you can find an employer willing to go through the whole process over again AND pay the 1,500 euro, then yes you can change jobs. And, if you succeed a second time, then once again you're bound to this new employer for another 12 months. If you can hang on for 5 years, Work Permit holders can apply for an unlimited work permit.
It's a similar situation for Green Card holders.
As an employee, am I free to move employer after I get a Green Card Permit?
"If this is your first employment permit in the State then (other than in exceptional circumstances) you are expected to stay with your initial employer for a period of 12 months but then you may move employer provided that a new application for a Green Card Permit is made."
Obviously, though, it will be easier for Green Card holders to change employers because their occupations are already on the Approved list, so they won't have to go through the whole labour market needs test which is the real killer. And, short of someone laying on the lash and chaining you up at night, it's probably worth sticking it out because after two years Green Card holders can apply for Permanent Residency - and freedom.
Green Card Miscellany:
Brent, a subscriber, had a
number of questions regarding Working Visas which he resolved. For now, we can assume that the same information applies to the new Green Card system. Here's what he
"One question was whether you could obtain the work authorisation
at an Irish embassy in a country different from your country of citizenship.
The answer is yes. I just got my work authorisation in London and I'm a US citizen.
Some other tips to pass on. They are extremely picky about the documentation.
They don't accept copies, only the originals. For evidence of your third level
education in the Information Tech field my diploma needed to say somewhere on
it that the degree was Computer Science, Computer Engineering, Information Technology
or one other that I can't recall or else they wouldn't accept it. The offer
letter from the company has to have all the required information or they won't accept it. You also need to bring two passport photos,
your passport and the fee of course. That's all that is needed. They give you
a short one page application form to fill out.
I had some hitches with my documentation, but once I got all the docs together
it took 4 business days to get it.
The other question was whether my family needed anything special to enter Ireland
with me once I received my work visa. The answer is no, but now that they are
here we're supposed to register with the Immigration Office in Dublin or local
Garda station. We haven't done that yet, but I've been told it's sort of a rubber
stamping kind of process from what I've heard." (That's what I've heard,
One item for IT professionals: the Department insists on a degree in IT. This means people who program, manipulate data, have high end hardware skills, etc. Generally, it does not include those with a degree in Computer Graphics or Web Design.
Unfortunately, self taught programmers and specialists get caught in the same net. I know of one self trained programmer whose skills are so specific and so in-demand that he has been able to work out a very favourable contract with an Irish firm. The firm is applying for the work permit, but he won't be just a standard employee, but rather a type of sub-contractor able to work on commission with a solid retainer. But... as I try to stress, it's hard for non-EU nationals to get work here unless they have high end skills.
Timeline - How Long Does It Take to Receive a Green Card?
I received my Green "Card" yesterday, seven weeks and one day after I submitted the application. I was watching the dates updated on their website and wasn't expecting to get it until the end of the month (if I was lucky) based on their documented pace. When I turned in my application they told me 6-7 weeks and the application says to expect a minimum of 8 weeks. My work received a copy two days before I received the actual card. For someone having it mailed to a different country I would expect it to take an extra week or two for it to find its way in the mail. (Be.)
Thought I would let you know that even in Ireland, miracles are possible. My husband's green card application took 9 days to process. It arrived in Dublin, they processed it within 9 days, sent on the 26th of the month and it arrived in our midwestern US mailbox 4 days after that. (T.)
I was in touch with my employment agent yesterday regarding my planned departure in 6 weeks & she responded with this info: "We got news from the Ministers office this week that the Green Cards are being given preference and so it's really very unlikely that your Green Card will not be through by the time you get here". (MJ)
"The application itself, once you start looking at it, is full of little things that don't make sense, or just aren't very clear as to how you are supposed to deal with them. And good luck getting feedback on questions that haven't been included in their "FAQ".
I tried for hours to get through to their "Call Center" and never got anything - probably because they are completely slammed right now. (No, it's always a nightmare to get through - Scott). I was in Ireland, so went down to their office directly to talk to someone in person, but the only one I was able to talk to was the man at the front desk - not a designated Immigration Official.
The things I turned in:
1. The fully completed application (in some places we just had to mark N/A on parts that were phrased poorly). Also, be careful not to miss the passport photo requirement - read this document multiple times, very carefully.
2. The check covering the €1,000 fee.
3. The letter of offer, signed by both parties and conforming to the requirements they line out in their "Guide to Green Card Permits".
4. A few tax and registration documents from the company that they require on the second to last page of the application (only needed if the company has not applied for a permit before).
5. A copy of my passport.
6. "Certified proof of qualifications" - to cover this I turned in a sealed official transcript from my university proving degree in architecture (which was the requirement for the work authorization and what the desk man told me), but this is the one part that was incredibly vague, so I don't know if they will decide they need more or not...time will tell. (B. received his Green Card in seven weeks.) "
More Timing Information
The following is from a very informative thread on the bulletin board:
Assuming I was given the offer of a job, how long is reasonable to expect a move from the US to Ireland to take? For the sake of this argument, lets just assume the employer will be taking care of everything he can with regards to paperwork.
Very roughly - a few weeks. The Dept. of Employment keeps a page telling how long it's taking to process applications.
Generally, they're processing one week old green card applications and one month old work permit applications. Medical professionals - one month, spouses and dependents - one month, intra-company transfers - one week.
This is incredibly faster than it used to be and probably reflects the slower pace of applications as well as the larger staffing that came in back when applications were much higher.
Just wanted to add that there could be delays before your application is successfully submitted. Based on my experience and from talking to others, after you have the job offer, how quickly the process takes may depend on some of the following:
1) whether you need to have your qualifications recognized by the equivalent irish organziation, and if you do, how often they meet to review qualifications, and if they accept your qualification without further clarification
2)how easy/difficult it is for your employer to convince the government that YOU are the most qualified for the job (as compared to Irish & EU citizens, who I believe get top priority)
3) whether or not your potential employer completes the paperwork correctly (the more non-nationals they have hired in the last year, the better your chances they know what they're doing)
4) whether or not any of the above people are on vacation at the time of receiving/sending your paperwork (yes, I'm serious!) Lots of people take holidays in August and September, and that can slow things down.
I hope that doesn't frustrate you - things could still all go very smoothly and you'll have your green card in a matter of weeks. But just so you are aware it is not guaranteed to go so quickly and could take months.
My work permit took 8 months. There was glich along the way, but even when that was sorted it took 4 months until I had it in my hands.
Visiting Ireland When the Green Card Issues
"I was told by the Garda National Immigration Bureau that I could just go in to them with my Green Card, before my 90 day tourist visa ran out, and they would give me my immigration stamp. When I was talking to someone at the immigration office, they said that the officers there can call the DETE directly to verify your paperwork is in process. " (B.)
So, there's no need for most of you to leave the country and re-enter with the green card in hand. The paperwork changes can be handled in Ireland.
However, what this subscriber is talking about is the automatical visitor's authorisation handed out to citizens of most western style democracies. There are, however, dozens of nations where a proper, applied for "C" Visa is required. To get one of these, you must contact the Irish embassy in your country several weeks in advance of travelling to Ireland. For people coming to Ireland on a "C" visa, there are "no exemptions" from the need to leave the country when your visa expires. You'll then have to re-apply to re-enter Ireland with an employment permit and a work visa. Lots more on this on this site's visa page.
Should You Apply for the Work Permit Yourself
I listened to a radio interview of a young American woman who brought the Work Permit form to a company which hired her. She registered to pay taxes, which were deducted from her wages, and she thought everything was grand. However, after a year, she went to work for another firm and when they applied for a new permit (every time you start work for a new employer, you must apply again), it turned out that the first employer had never sent in the form at all. The new application was turned down and the poor girl was scheduled for deportation because she worked in the country illegally!
And Tina worked in a small-town call centre because they were the one business that promised to apply for a work permit.
"I filled out the paperwork with them (twice), did the photos and put it in the envelope and talked to them about splitting the cost with them for it (which is against the rules but I offered anyway).... One boss gave me fake "updates" about where my permit was at in the process, every Friday. When I would ask for proof (an email from the WP office in Dublin, perhaps?) he would simply say, 'Ohhhh, but don't you trust me, Tina'? NO! (Eventually) he told me he had never applied for my permit, and laughed in my face. Talk about a Not So Nice Person! And not only one boss lied to me AND then got himself fired, but TWO OF THEM. Yep, one after the other."
So be aware there are "Not-So-Nice-Persons" who are only too happy to screw up your life if it will save them a spot of bother. If you have doubts, you can now submit the work permit and green card applications yourself.
Holding Down Two Jobs
A work permit is issued for a single job. When I called the Work Permit Office I was informed that no one is permitted to take up two different jobs while holding a work permit. And no, you cannot apply for a second work permit.
Spouses, Family, Boy
Friends and Girl Friends
This is one of those messy areas where the immigration officials have a wide amount of personal decision making power. I've called half a dozen officials for answers on this one, and I'm still confused.
Here's a summary of what I've been told.
The key person who will decide whether your spouse and family can come into the country is the immigration officer who meets them at the point of entry - at an airport or ferry port. They will be looking for a Visa if your family comes from a Visa required nation.
Question 1 - Do you or your spouse and family need Visas to enter Ireland?
You can find the list at the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service website.
If your nation is NOT on the list of nations allowing free entry to Ireland, your family will have to apply for visas.
You do this through the local Irish embassy or consulate in your country. Addresses can be found by following the Embassies and Consulates link on the home page of the Dept. of Foreign Affairs.
The spouse and dependent children (16 or over - children under the age of 16 are covered by the spouse's travel visa) should seek a "D Type" Visa. You can read more about visas on this site's Visa page which also has the appropriate links to key government sites.
I am told that a spouse/children should seek a year long D Visa as opposed to the 3 month C Visa.
To get such a visa, you will have to prove that you can support your spouse and family for a year in Ireland. Medical insurance covering your family in Ireland may be demanded.
You will need to provide 3 months worth of bank statements in your native country and/or other proof of your ability to support a dependent.
If you've been in Ireland long enough to have a 3 month bank record, these may do the job as well, though I haven't yet found anyone willing to definitely commit to that clearly.
If you need to extend your family's stay, you seek an extension while in Ireland. (Note: a Visitor's Visa, referred to as the C Visa, is restricted and usually is not able to be extended, I'm told.) The same proofs are demanded at the Garda National Immigration Office in Dublin or at your local Garda station as are sought by the consulates and embassies. Again, these documents are principally proof that you and your family will not become a burden to the Irish state, that is, you can provide proof of money in the bank and/or job earnings and medical insurance that will suffice to support your family.
Question 2 - Are you and your family citizens of a non-Visa required nation?
If a visa is not needed because you're a citizen of nations such as the US, Australia and dozens of others, then your family may join you without any problems when first you arrive in Ireland.
To extend their visit, you and they will need to visit the Garda National Immigration Office in Dublin or your local Garda station and seek an extension.
Here, the same rules apply as for someone coming into the nation on a visa - have your paperwork in order, certified marriage certificates, birth documents of kids, passports with at least 6 months still left when you arrive in Ireland (and passports with at least a year to go if you're seeking to stay a year), the work permit you hold, etc.
Then be able to prove the working spouse can support the family/spouse while in Ireland, provide 3 months of bank accounts and medical insurance.
There are no guarantees - the decision will be made by immigration officers on a case by case basis. However, if you've got your paperwork in order and you have the money in the bank and a proper work permit, then it should be straight-forward and your family will almost surely be allowed to remain in the country with you while you hold a valid work permit.
Any permissions are granted for a year only and so must be renewed annually.
Workers holding a Green Card are spared some of these restrictions and only have to renew every second year.
Complicated, I know! And subjective, so it depends on who you end up dealing with, whether they woke up on the right side of bed, etc.
Once in Ireland, adult family members must register at the local
Garda Station or Immigration Office in Dublin. Children do not have to register
until they reach the age of 16.
Now comes the really really confusing part.
The rules listed on the Work Permit state that the worker has to be employed and living in Ireland
for a year before their families can join them. So, for instance, a married
couple who are unable to qualify for a Working Visa/Green Card will
face a choice: live separately for a year or seek two work permits and two
jobs - one for each spouse. Yet, as detailed above, there are regular exceptions granted for those who can prove they can support their family members.
Who can explain it? Who can tell you why? Fools give you reasons, wise men never try. Some enchanted evening....
My former girlfriend and I were caught in this red tape quagmire since she was Irish and I was a US citizen. We overcame the problems by getting married. No one should get married just to live in another country, but in our case, it was one further propellant to get us to the altar. I can now thank the bureaucracy for the best decision of my life.
Procedures for Spouses to Join the Work Permit Holder
If you are a citizen of a non-visa required country (such as the US, Australia and many others) then you arrive at your entry point (airport, ferry port, etc.) with enough money (traveller's cheques, cash) to prove you can support yourself during a one month visit to the country. I'd suggest travel insurance/proof of health insurance as well just to be on the safe side - though the official I spoke to did not mention this.
If asked the purpose of your visit, state the truth - you're meeting your spouse who is working in Ireland with a work permit.
The official at the entry port will almost surely grant you a one month entry permission. Possibly it could be longer or a bit shorter - this is one of those subjective areas where the individual agent has much discretion.
Enjoy a few days and weeks with your spouse.
Before the entry permission expires go to the local Garda station or to the National Garda Immigration Bureau in Dublin (located right in the heart of town just a minute's walk from O'Connell Bridge). Make sure your spouse who holds the work permit accompanies you.
The two of you should bring:
1. A marriage certificate
2. The spouse's work permit
3. Recent bank statements/pay slips of your work permit spouse. This is to prove that your spouse can support you without your becoming a burden on the state.
4. Any other proof that you will be able to financially support yourselves. Here's where the health insurance/travel insurance would be useful; bank statements showing savings in your native land if you have any; etc.
Number 4 is not required, but you'll have to prove to a potentially sceptical official that you can support yourselves without the Irish state and taxpayers assisting you. So, the better you can make your case, the more likely you are to get an extension.
You will then be given a one year extension. But, this depends on the type of work permit the spouse holds, the length of time remaining on it, etc.
At the end of the year, you apply for another extension. In the meantime, you're free to look for work yourself and try and get a work permit in your own name, if you desire.
For those requiring a Visa to enter Ireland in the first place, steps 1 to 4 take place in your own native land when you apply to the consulate or embassy for a Visa. Discuss this with the local consulate and they'll send out the necessary application form which will specify exactly what is needed. And to complete this round, start over again at the beginning of this discussion about spouses and family.
Here is my experience. My husband took a job in Ireland and sent me a color copy of his work permit. I flew to Ireland and armed with the work permit, my passport and a certified copy of my marriage license I went through Immigration. Your spouse must have these three things with them. I also had a US bank statement with me and health insurance cards because I had heard somtimes they ask to see $$$ to show you can afford to stay awhile and insurance to show you will not be a burdren to the state, but fortunately they didn't ask me for anything like that.
The Immigration officer asked me why I was in Ireland and I said I was joining my husband who was working in Ireland on a valid work permit. He asked for the permit, marriage license and my passport and asked questions like what my husband's job was, and would he be able to support me, because unless I get my own work permit I am a dependant of my husband, the legal worker, and I am not allowed to work. He also made me promise not to stay in the country once my VISA expires or I would become an illegal immigrant. The officer stamped my passport for 30 DAYS and told me to go directly to my local Immigration Office in the Garda Station and register with them. He was very serious, civil but not friendly.
I did register and was given a resident card just like my husband's and my passport was stamped for one year because the old work permits were only valid for one year. Once the year is up and my husband gets a renewed work permit or green card permit, we will both re-register with the Immigration Dept. and get our passports stamped again for another 1 or 2 years depending on the type of work permit he has this time.
Full time non-EEA students attending recognized and accredited colleges may work up to 20 hours per week. Lots more on this on this site's student work page. Let me prepare you, though. Many students work lots more than 20 hours. Under the new rules in effect from February 2007, graduates of Irish universities have 6 months after graduation to try and find full time work.
English-language Work Loophole Closed
Students at English-language schools have been able to work 20 hours per week while studying full time. This loophole became suddenly popular as a method of getting employment and residing in Ireland. The government’s solution has been to eliminate the loophole entirely. As of April 2005, such students are not allowed to work – full stop.
However, this ruling does not apply to those students attending a course of a least one year’s duration which leads to a formally recognised qualification recognised by the Department of Education & Science. If you're thinking of attending an English Language School you can check if the school is accredited by logging on to www.acels.ie.
For the specific language, you can download the Department's policy statement here.
Foolish me, I thought the 2005 tightening would end this particular loophole for those just wanting to work here without any real interest in study. Ha. In 2010, another bungle was revealed.
The Irish authorities accepted at face value the credentials of institutions headquartered in England who wanted to set up Irish campuses. Somewhere over the Irish Sea separating the UK from Ireland, all enforcement ended. The international criminal community shifted rapidly into gear to exploit a lack of oversight.
The authorities say they've now closed some of these fakes. The word on the street is that there are plenty more out there. Most are recruiting in Asia and charging significant money to process young workers, provide them with papers and a bunk bed in a "dormitory" of the Irish fake university.
If caught, deportation is a possibility.
Working Holiday Authorisation
Citizens of Argentina, Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Japan, New Zealand and the Republic of Korea.
Lucky you. You may come
to Ireland with a Working Holiday Authorisation. This special visa allows
you to live and work in the Emerald Isle for 12 months.
Once you arrive in Ireland,
register at your local Garda/Police station. Your Working Holiday Visa will
be stamped and you then are free to live in Ireland for one year. An important note: you must get the Working Holiday Visa first! The Garda do not issue them. So some pre-planning is necessary.
get a job, well and good. If you don't get a job, well and good. You're
still entitled to live here for 12 months. No further work permit is required. Rules differ. For instance, New Zealanders may work
for 12 months with a single employer, but Australians are entitled to work
for only 6 months with a single employer. But, even if you only get work
for 6 months, you still may reside in Ireland for 12.
This is a once in a lifetime thing. You cannot just keep applying for it. You get a Working Holiday Authorisation once. If you want to stay longer, then like everyone else you are required to get an employer to sponsor you to stay in Ireland more than the 12 months.
Please note that several of these programmes are restricted in numbers. For instance, only 400 Working Holiday visas are issued to South Koreans, 100 to Argentinians, 100 to Hong Kong residents, etc. Assuming you fit the age profile and can provide the necessary documentation, these permits are granted on a first come - first served basis. So get going. Now!
This programme keeps being extended to new nations and the rules change at infrequent intervals. The best thing to do is check the website of the Department of Foreign Affairs where they have a page about Working Holidays in Ireland. Or you can send an email to the Dept. of Foreign Affairs at email@example.com.
Danny asked whether he could enter Ireland and tour on the standard visitor's visa (given at the port of entry to all tourists from countries not specifically required to present a visa on entry) before applying for the working holiday authorisation. Would he have to leave the country and re-enter after the normal visitor's visa expires?
The answer is that in most cases, you have to be residing in your own homeland to get the visa. For most of you, the paperwork has to be completed BEFORE arriving in Ireland. Australians are the notable exception. Aussies may apply during their travels. So, Australians are able to enter the country without the holiday work visa in hand and tour for up to 90 days before starting work.
Bad news for the rest of ye. Canadians must have the visa in hand before arriving in Ireland. Similarly, Kiwis must be in New Zealand to apply. Etc. etc. for ye South Koreans, HongKongers, Argentinians and Japanese.
My advice is that whatever your nationality, you should try and get the holiday visa BEFORE you arrive. Processing times may take up to two months. So, don't leave it until your last few days. Bureaucracies are notorious for mislaying or delaying paperwork - especially during the summer vacation time or Christmas holidays.
Department of Foreign Affairs
St. Stephen's Green
Working Holiday Programme page
US Working Holiday Authorisation
Here's the programme for all of you Americans wanting to spend some quality time in Ireland, but don't qualify for work permits or green cards. The information below comes from the Department of Foreign Affairs page on US Work and Travel.
In order to qualify for the programme participants should be either in post-secondary education or have recently graduated (ie within the last 12 months).
US citizens wishing to travel to Ireland under the terms of the agreement should make an application for a US Working Holiday Authorisation at the Embassy of Ireland in Washington or the Consulates General of Ireland in Boston, Chicago, New York and San Francisco. Please click here for contact details.
A completed and signed application form (PDF 35kb) should be presented at the Embassy of Ireland in Washington, or at the Irish Consulates General in Boston, Chicago, New York or San Francisco together with:
- Valid United States passport;
- 2 recent identical passport photographs with your name on the reverse;
- Current curriculum vitae (with references);
- Original bank statement showing that you have access to €1,500 (or equivalent) plus a return ticket; or €3,000 (or equivalent);
- Originals of any qualifications obtained or letter from school/college/university (where applicable)
- The relevant fee of €250 or dollar equivalent as advised by the relevant Mission;
Once the Embassy or Consulate General is satisfied with the documentation above, the application will be approved in principle and the applicant notified. The Working Holiday Authorisation will be issued on submission by the applicant of:
- Return airline tickets;
- Certificate of medical/travel insurance valid for the duration of the trip (based on dates on tickets)
- Valid United States passport that is valid for the entirety of the trip to Ireland ie for a full year after their ticketed date of entry.
A Word about Citizenship
Work permit rules
do not apply to EU and Irish citizens and a surprising number of people qualify
for Irish citizenship because they have Irish grandparents or even great-grandparents.
So, if you're serious about moving to Ireland, you'll want to check this possibility
Ireland does not require foreign citizenship to be dropped in order to get an Irish passport. So, you can be a dual citizen of Ireland and another nation. However, as a word of warning, many non-Irish governments do not allow dual citizenship, so you might have to give up your native citizenship to become an Irishman, er... person. Check with your native country's foreign affairs department for the rules. For more about citizenship, check out the Citizenship page.
A Big Warning About Reckonable Residence
Some of you may be hoping to become Irish citizens after 5 years working in Ireland. The rules for determining "Reckonable Residence" are detailed in this site's Citizenship page.
Most importantly, you aren't officially here in Ireland until you register at the Garda National Immigration Bureau or your local Garda station. The stamps given at your port of entry or airport don't count. Your official time of entry only begins when you register with the Garda - NOT when you officially enter the country.
This won't matter until 5 years after you first begin working in Ireland, but it will make a very big difference then.
Working in Ireland for a non-Irish Overseas Firm
You may have a perfectly excellent income while working in Ireland for a non-EU business. You won't qualify for a work permit because you have no intention of working for an Irish firm so there's no one able to apply for your work permit.
I called the National Immigration Office in Dublin and was told that such a job does not into any of the current categories. What you need to do is write a letter to:
Department of Justice
General Immigration Division
13-14 Burgh Quay
In the letter, include details explaining the situation and offering proof. This was not specified, but surely would consist of at least a letter on company letterhead stationery, details of the business, proof that the business has been in existence for some time, tax numbers, pay stubs, contracts, etc.
The Justice Department's big concern is that folks looking for a loophole will claim they're gainfully employed while, in reality, it's all just a spoof to illegally move here. So, I'd suggest that the more details you can offer to prove the truth of your claim of employment, the better your chances of securing the necessary permits. Certified company accounts or a letter from the company accountant, copies of your tax returns proving you've been paid by this overseas firm - anything you provide to bolster your case will help.
The Experience of Ch.
My hubby works for a US company and we live in Ireland. He does not work in Ireland but commutes nto other EU countries to work. We showed a letter from his company verifing employment, income, insurance and were given a Stamp 3 (retired person) for a year. (With the proof of the stamp, we) were told we need to contact the Department of Justice, explain our circumstance and the Department will give us a renewal for either 3 or 5 years. We will then renew after that. Nothing in Ireland is "black & white." You may find something different depending on your local Immigration Officer.
Touring and Looking
Non EU Citizens and Visitors from Visa-Required Countries
Citizens from Visa-Required countries may NOT work here after entering the country with a visitor's visa or permit. This is known in Immigration parlance as a C Permit.
In short, if you don't
enter the country with a work permit or authorization stamp on your visa,
you can't find work here and apply to stay. The only exception is after
marriage to an EU citizen. At that point, the C-Permit holder can work in
So, if you want to work in Ireland but don't have a job offer, you can go for job interviews and try and find employment, but you'll have to leave the country and re-enter with an Employment Permit.
There is an exception for visiting non-nationals who get married to an EU national. But, that's the only exception I know of. And even this is fraught with problems. For more information, check out the Wedding page.
Non EU Citizens and Visitors from Non-Visa-Required Countries (I refer to this below as an Automatic Visitor's Visa)
Where does that leave people from the US and other countries that can enter Ireland without a visa? Such non-visa required nationals can indeed seek employment while in Ireland. If the work permit is issued before the standard 90 days is up, then they can stay in Ireland without having to depart and re-enter.
Here's the official language from the Department of Enterprise, Trade & Employment:
"Non-visa required nationals--Candidates from non-visa required countries may change their status within the state and complete the process of acquiring a work permit while staying in Ireland, provided their residency stamps are up-to-date."
So, if you find an employer willing to hire you who then submits a work permit application, you have until the end of the 90 day Visitor's Visa to receive the work permit.
If the work permit arrives within that 90 day deadline, you may stay in Ireland and switch the Visitor's Visa for a Work Permit visa. The paperwork can be handled in-country and there's no need for you to leave Ireland and then re-enter the country under the new visa.
One problem is that the red tape is such - FAS job notices, Work Permit office turnaround time, employers getting the paperwork filled out and filed - that the standard 90 day visit may be exceeded. If the work permit does not arrive within the 90 day time limit, you're out of luck. One way or the other, you have to leave Ireland and then return using the Work Permit as your entry visa.
What are the odds of getting a standard work permit during that crucial 90 day time frame of the initial visa? It'll be tight. Current processing times are listed by the Dept. of Trade, Enterprise and Employment at 7-8 weeks. For years now, the processing time has been averaging 7 to 9 weeks. So, if you find work within the first month of your visit, and if your employer gets cracking and there aren't any hold-ups then, hallelujah!, you can start working in Ireland without having to return home first.
In short, there are no guarantees. But, yes, there is a reasonable hope for non-visa required, non-EU nationals who visit Ireland who get an Irish job offer to be able to stay in Ireland while the paperwork is processed.
Click here for more information about getting an extension to your visit. Get a 3 month extension and you could have 180 days to tour the lovely Emerald Isle - and look for work. As I understand it, however, once you get an extension and then find work, you must leave the country and return under a work permit visa.
Job Interviews - Should You Mention Work Permits?
Here's a thread from the bulletin board.
As an American in search of a job in Ireland, I've wondered about this. Up until now I have been operating under the assumption that any prospective employers would know that, as an American, I will need a work permit for which the employer must apply. But what if they don't know? I mean, it seems like it would be shooting myself in the foot to say it in the covering letter, although it doesn't seem entirely honest to have to bring it up later.
My humble opinion is to assume employers know the rules and say something like, "I'm available to start with your company as soon as I receive my work permit," or "Generally, how long do you find that it takes to get work permits for your American employees?" If they're oblivious, I'm sure they will inquire as to what-in-the-world you're talking about.
There are many Americans in Ireland with Irish citizenship through family. Others have work permit rights through spouse. Yet others are in highly skilled areas where permits do not pose much problem. It's not fair to assume that your potential employer knows under which category you fit.
Honesty is the best policy. You don't want to start the interview with "I need a work permit." but neither should you lead with misinformation. Somewhere in there you do need to tell the truth, both for your sake and out of respect for the company interviewing you.
My own thinking is that your new employer is going to be mighty pissed when they find out you've "forgotten" some pretty crucial information. Not a good way to start a long-term relationship.
Extension of Visits and Return Trip Tickets
Now comes decision point. You've been in Ireland for a month and you still haven't found an employer, or you've finally found one after two months have passed.
You may apply for an extension of your automatically given Visitor's Visa, but one of the standard items which Immigration officials might look for is a return ticket to your home country. Sometimes they will not grant an extension, I was told by immigration officials, without that return ticket.
These days it's common practice to purchase one way tickets. You don't save much with Aerlingus (www.aerlingus.com), for example, by booking a round trip fare. So, you can wait till the last minute to buy that return flight. However, if you're planning to apply for an extension to your visitor's visa, that also takes time and you've got to leave about 6 - 8 weeks for that paperwork to be handled. (See the next section, Visa Extensions, for more details.)
To summarize: if you haven't found a job within 5-6 weeks of your entry to Ireland, then you might need to pick up a return flight ticket if you arrived without one. You'll need this ticket to get an extension of your visit, or more simply, to go home.
- Visa Extensions
Right. You've visiting
and enjoying life so much that you want to extend the visit. What do you
do if you're a non-EU/EEA national?
You'll have to contact
either the Garda National Immigration Office in Dublin or a local Garda station
to apply for an extension.
Garda National Immigration Office
When calling from outside the country, drop the 0. +353-1-666-9100
I am told by personnel
in that office that such extensions are only rarely granted, and the processing
time is 6 to 8 weeks. My own calls around the country and anecdotal evidence
suggests that the local Garda officials tasked with immigration duties are
generally much more lenient. They're not dealing with dozens of people a day
and the whole process is much more personal.
Call the local Garda
station, ask for the immigration officer and explain that you need a visa
holiday extension. He or she will send you the application and set up an
appointment. You'll have to explain why you want the holiday extension and
furnish proof you have money enough to support yourself (check out the Residency Page).
You won't be able to
work during this extended holiday period. However, you can continue looking
for work. Once you have the work permit in hand, you'll have to leave the
country and re-enter with permission to work.
As soon as you apply
to the Garda National Immigration Office or Garda officer you will be asked to furnish
proof that you have sufficient funds to maintain yourself in Ireland without
being a burden to the state. What constitutes such proof can vary depending
on your situation. Basically, you will need to have in an Irish Banking Account
substantial sums (nobody will state what they are but I'd recommend at least €200 per week) and private medical insurance. For more, check out the Residency Page.
Just remember, the
whole extension process is very subjective. You could meet a stubborn or
awkward official. Immigration officials turn away thousands of visitors
to Irish shores each year. One Garda Immigration Official told me he regularly
gets visits from people who have their passports stamped to allow only a
4 week visit- even though visitors are legally entitled to a 90 day stay.
The point is that the personal discretion of the immigration officials is
very wide. You want to have a good reason ready for any extension. And even
for a visit.
Simply show up and take a ticket from one of the automated machines. Within an average time of 30 minutes, your number will be called and you'll be dealing with an official. There are now 16 hatches and office hours are hugely extended.
Monday to Thursday - 8am to 10pm
Friday - 8am to 4pm
Saturday - 10am to 2pm
Please note, though, that the rule is 1 ticket per person. If you show up with wife and kids, each member of the family needs their own ticket. Otherwise, you'll have to wait again for each person in the family.
The office is easily found in the centre of the city, just a block from O'Connell Bridge along the Liffey River. It's right next to the Tara Street train and DART station on the south side at Burgh Quay.
As always with government offices, be sure you have every legal, official document possible to hand. Not a bad idea to have your current bank statement to hand as well.
Work Permit Extensions
Even with a one year work permit in hand, you are likely to be given permission to stay for 90 days or less when you arrive at your port of entry. The officials at the airport or port have wide latitude, which is what I've been told by everyone again and again. They could give you two weks, 6 months or even a 1 year stamp based on your work permit.
If they give you a short term stamp (such as Stamp 3 - a 90 day holiday or C visa) and you find you need to extend your visit, you will have no problems whatsoever getting the necessary extension from your local Garda immigration official or the national office at Burgh Quay in Dublin.
You will not necessarily need a round trip air ticket. You will need to provide proof that you are tied to your native land by providing proofs. Examples would be a letter from your employer on letterhead paper stating that you will have a job there upon your return along with a pay stub or tax return that proves that you've been employed by them. Another example would be copies of home ownership papers, or property tax receipt, etc. And, of course, be sure to bring along your work permit.
Again, any extension for a work permit holder should be straightforward, particularly if you're from a non-visa required nation.
If you're an employer, you'll have to prove to FAS and the work permit folks that you can't get any European workers with the same skills. I was told this is dodgy for many, many positions. You put it all in writing, explain why you need to hire a non-European and send it off when you, as the employer, apply for the work permit.
You will have to pay at least the minimum wage to the person, with proper deductions and payments to PRSI, etc.
Go to the Dept. of Enterprise website at http://www.entemp.ie and click on work permits on the home page for more info.
So, those of you hoping to hire a non-EU boyfriend or girlfriend should know there are a fair number of hoops to be jumped. If you've thought of a possible loophole, so have umpteen thousands before you.
Charlene has these discouraging words, which you should know about.
"If neither you nor your wife is an Irish citizen or from a country in the EU or a doctor or other in-demand professional, you are going to have a VERY HARD TIME GETTING A WORK PERMIT AND WORKING IN IRELAND.
I am highly skilled and experienced at what I do. But, apparently, so are thousands of others who live in Ireland and the EU. I am a former journalist, currently a university English professor and an ESL tutor. Yet, from all I learned while in Galway, I have about a 10% chance of ever getting a job in Ireland.
There have been at least 2 of us who have gone to Ireland, sought work, visited all the appropriate offices, talked to dozens of people, and made sacrifices towards a permanent move . . . only to learn that getting a work permit is really, truly, seriously next to impossible. Remember, Irish laws require companies to hire in this order: (1) Irish persons and citizens of the EU, and (2) persons from outside the EU -- IF you have special skills that no one else has, and they want you badly enough.
I found out that there were 50 EU citizens/refugees who could do every job I thought of checking on (and I was seriously overly qualified for) -- this, from the office of FAS.... No one was willing to do the paperwork/pay for a work permit for me, when they could easily hire an Irish person/European with my same qualifications...."
One positive note: an average of nearly 50,000 work permits have been issued annually over the past few years. So, there’s still hope.
The dreaded bureaucratic circularity
DG, a subscriber, summed up the problems nicely:
1. Employers say they won't hire me until I have a PPS Number.
2. Social Welfare, issuing agent of PPSN's, won't issue me one until I have an Immigration Card.
3. An Garda Síochána won't issue me an Immigration Card until I have a Work Authorisation.
4. The Dept of Trade and Enterprise won't give me a Work Authorisation until I have a job offer.
5. See #1.
DG also offers this hard learned lesson: "To get a work permit, the employer (who applies for the work permit and holds it in your name... your new employer must reapply if you change jobs) must be able to prove to the gov't that they could not find an EU national for the job. This is next to impossible, as it has to be done through the gov't jobs agency, FAS. Cheers!"
And on that less than happy note, I wish you good luck!
Work Permits Section
Department of Enterprise, Trade & Employment
65a Adelaide Road
Office Opening Hours:
Monday to Friday
9:30am - 1:00pm
2:00pm - 5:00pm
The Work Permits Callcentre exists primarily to deal with enquiries from employer applicants. However, the Callcentre will answer a limited number of questions from enquiring prospective employees, subject to sufficient verification of identity.