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General Employment Permit Ireland

Ireland is a beautiful country, and as Europe’s westernmost member following the UK’s exist from the European Union, is an increasingly popular destination for people to want to visit, work and reside in. With the General Employment Permit, Ireland attracts a great deal of skilled workers annually – and this page covers all the information needed to understand what one entails and to begin the application process for it.

The Immigration Advice Service (IAS) has a team of immigration specialists based in Limerick, Ireland, who are able to advise and guide on the processes and idiosyncrasies of applying for Irish work permits and onward visas and citizenship. Contact them now by phone on +44 (0)333 305 9375 for a free, no-obligation chat and to take the first step in your journey to living and working on the Emerald Isle.

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    What is the Irish General Employment Permit?

    The Irish General Employment Permit is an atypical work scheme for immigration purposes: a vehicle used by the Irish government in order to encourage nationals from other countries to take up occupations in Ireland that are experiencing a skills shortage and need extra help. The Irish General Employment Permit replaces the previous Work Permit Employment Permit, but differ from the Irish Critical Skills Employment Permits.

    General Employment Permits are mainly attractive to those who want to work in Ireland but don’t fit the niche of a specific employed role that fits within the eligibility criteria of other Irish work or employment permits (with the exception of a small list of ineligible occupations).

    Both foreign nationals and prospective employers can apply for an Irish General Employment Permit and where granted, a copy is sent to each with immediately effective power unless otherwise specified.

    Criteria for eligibility for the Irish General Employment Permit


    Despite being designed to be more broad than Ireland’s other work permits and visas, there is a variety of eligibility criteria for both the individual and employer to meet the needs of the General Employment Permit. This criteria is set by the Irish Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment. If applications do not meet this criteria, they will be refused.

    Employee criteria

    An Irish work permit of this type does hold several stipulations for the individual applying for it. While these do occasionally vary based on the authorities’ appetite for employees, they are usually as follows:

    • A job offer must have been received from a genuine employer based in or working within Ireland that is registered with the country’s Revenue Commissioners and Companies Registration Office (where applicable)
    • The job offer must relate to a role that is not an excluded job category in the Ineligible List of Occupations for Irish Employment Permits
    • A full description of the proposed employment along with information relating to the individual’s appropriate qualifications, skills and experience must be available and provided
    • The minimum annual remuneration for the role must be €30,000; with exceptions including:
      • €27,000 for Healthcare Assistant (HCA) roles if the individual has been in employment within Ireland for 2 years or more and holds a Level 5 Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI) qualification
      • €27,000 for those who are non-EEA residents and have graduated from a third level Irish educational institution and been offered a graduate position from the Critical Skills Occupation List (with the remuneration rising to €30,000 at the point of renewal)
      • €27,000 where the role on offer requires an individual fluent in a language which is not a member state of the EEA, if supported by an Irish enterprise development agency and the role is within the scope of customer service or sales, specialist digital marketing, or specialist language support
      • €27,500 in respect of a role as a meat boner.

    Employer criteria

    Employers too have eligibility criteria to meet in order to hire a new employee under an Irish General Employment Permit. This includes:

    • The employer must be registered with the Irish Registry Commissioners and Companies Registration Office (if applicable)
    • The employer currently operates within Ireland
    • That the employer intends to salary and pay employee directly; maintaining a direct employee-employer relationship
    • At least 50% of the employees in the firm are EEA nationals. This is known as the 50:50 rule. This rule is waived whereby:
      • The employer is a start-up organisation and has only been registered for 2 years or less, with a valid letter of support from Enterprise Ireland or IDA Ireland. However, the 50:50 rule must be have met by the time the permit is up for renewal or only a 1-year employment permit will be issued
      • If on the day the application for the employment permit is being made the company has zero employees and the foreign national will be the sole employee (if the permit is granted), the authorities must be satisfied that the employee will remain the only employee for at least an appropriate period of time.

    Documents required for General Employment Permit

    There are numerous documents required for inclusion with an Irish General Employment Permit application. Exactly what should be included is dependent on the individual circumstances of the individual and the prospective employer, but can include:

    • A copy of the applicants passport
    • A passport-sized photo of the applicant (in line with Ireland’s passport photo requirements, if not those of the nationals’ existing residence)
    • A copy of the work contract signed by the employee and employer
    • A copy of any existing Irish immigration stamp or visa
    • A copy of the AWS permission letter if the applicant is already employed under the Atypical Working Scheme
    • Details of a dedicated contact person working for the employer
    • The relevant registration/pin or licence number of the employer issued by the relevant regulatory body
    • A copy of the company’s letter of support from Enterprise Ireland or IDA Ireland, if appropriate as a start-up
    • Details of any previous Irish visas received or rejected by the applicant
    • Proof that the employer advertised the role the applicant will be taking in the Department of Social Protection Employment Services and/or the EURES Employment Network, and that the advert ran for a minimum period of a fortnight
    • Proof that the employer advertised the role the applicant will be taking in a national newspaper for a minimum period of three days
    • Details of the employer’s registered and trading name, type and nature of business, proof of monthly P30 returns (or P30 SEPA monthly payments)
    • Full details of the intended employment and role specification
    • A CE or C1E licence if the applicant is an HGV driver and this is relevant to the job role
    • If a Labour Market Needs Test is not required, an explanation of why.

    General Employment Permit application process

    Applications for a General Employment Permit are usually made online through the Irish Employment Permits Online System (EPOS). This website does not experience major updates regularly, but there is an up-to-date User Guide for those undergoing the process to support them.

    An application for any Irish work permit should be completed and received by the relevant authority a minimum of 12 weeks before it is proposed that employment commences and the individual starts in their new role.

    There are three main stages in the application process for an Ireland General Employment Permit. These are:

    1. Application Completion: The completion of the online application form and it being filed by the relevant authority for processing. Once the application form has been completed and submitted, with the appropriate fees paid, it will be prioritised for processing. Applications are processed in date order by employer type with the current processing dates updated on the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment (An Roinn Fiontar Tradala agus Fostaiochta) website. Each applicant is also supplied with an individual link to track their specific application status
    2. Application Processing: The application is processed by a decision maker within the relevant authority. At this stage, further information may be requested and if so, details must be supplied within 28 days of the request being made. After this period, the decision marker will either grant the application or refuse it – with reasoning given if the latter
    3. Review: If an application has been refused and the applicant wishes to appeal, they can do within 28 days using the Submission of a Decision for Review online form. This review will be completed by a different and more senior decision maker.

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      Holders of Work Permit Employment Permits or General Employment Permits for 5 years or more

      In many cases, a non-EEA national who has held a valid Irish Work Permit Employment Permit or a newer General Employment Permit for a period of 5 years or more consecutively will no longer require any type of Ireland employment permit. There is no requirement for them to apply for a new permit or a renewal of one, and instead, the employee should apply for a temporary Stamp 4 from the Department of Justice and Equality.

      If an employee does not satisfy the criteria to end their permit status for whatever reason but has been employed by a single firm for the five years, they may apply for a renewal free of charge that will hold over an unlimited term. If their employers have varied, a renewal may be granted for a specific term of 3 years.

      Process for obtaining Irish residency

      An employment permit is not the same as an Irish residence permit but often acts as a gateway toward one. Applicants for an Ireland General Employment Permit will still need to obtain a standard entry visa to the country once their work permit has been granted.

      After five years of working in Ireland under a General Employment Permit, the employee may choose to apply for long term residency through the Immigration Service Delivery department. This is an entirely separate process with set criteria, fees and application requirements.

      Incurring a change of circumstances when working under a General Employment Permit

      If an individual working under an Irish work permit incurs a change in their professional circumstances while in the country, they must notify the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment – even if the change has occurred through no fault of their own.

      If the employee is made redundant from their role, they should submit the Notification of Redundancy Form within four weeks of the date of dismissal. This allows the individual a period of six months within which to seek alternative employment within Ireland.

      It is best to seek the advice of specialists on how to proceed in the case of changing circumstances potentially impacting on an Ireland General Employment Permit. Get in touch with the IAS Irish office team to discuss your specific situation on +44 (0)333 305 9375.

      Cancellation of Employment Permits

      If an employment permit is to be cancelled for whatever reason, the employer must return their certified copy of the permit to the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment within four weeks from the termination of contract. It is a legal offence for an employer not to do so. When received, the permit will be updated to reflect a cancelled status and will be no longer valid with immediate effect.

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        Immigration and Registration

        Where an Irish work permit has been granted and the individual has arrived in the country, they must declare themselves as lawfully resident. All non-EEA nationals in possession of such a permit must register upon their arrival with the Garda National Immigration Bureau so that their status of habitation is clear. This registration should not be delayed as failure to complete it in a timely manner can result in the decline of future permits and visas.

        General Employment Permit application fees

        Processing fees for a General Employment Permit must be paid at the time of the application being filed. These fees are:

        • €500 for a permit to last in duration of up to six months or less
        • €1,000 for a permit to last in duration of six up to 24 months.

        For the renewal of a permit, the costs are:

        • €750 for a renewed permit to last in duration of up to six months or less
        • €1,500 for a renewed permit to last in duration of six up to 24 months.

        If an application is rejected, 90% of the fee paid will be refunded to the applicant (even if they were not the party who paid the sum). It should be noted that employers are not allowed to deduct any charges directly from their failed employee if they paid the fee only to have the application be rejected.

        Ireland General Employment Permit average processing time

        Current average processing times alongside the status of any specific application can be found online through the links sent to the applicant upon receipt of their completed work permit application.

        Bringing family members to Ireland on a General Employment Permit

        Once a year has passed of an active employment permit, those working under them can bring their family to live with them in Ireland. Where the family members come from a country requiring an entry visa, every member must apply individually for a visa. Where this is not the case, instead proof must be shown to an immigration officer upon arrival in Ireland.

        Those in receipt of a General Employment Permit must earn more than the stipulated limits for Family Working Payments, to demonstrate that they’re able to support them financially.

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          The Labour Market Needs Test

          A Labour Market Needs Test is intended to test the theory that the job role being fulfilled by a new work permit holder cannot be filled appropriately by an existing Irish citizen.

          To carry out this test, the employer must advertise the relevant vacancy:

          • With the Department of Social Protection Employment Services/EURES employment network for a minimum of four weeks
          • In an Irish national newspaper for at least three days
          • In an appropriate local newspaper or job website for at least three days.

          The advert must provide full details of the role and its requirements.

          There are, however, exceptions to the Labour Market Needs Test. Where an occupation is included on the Critical Skills Occupations List, is salaried at over €64,000 or requires specialist medical services, there is no requirement for the employer to carry out such advertising campaigns.

          How Can IAS Help?

          If you’re looking for advice, support or guidance on joining the Irish labour market and applying for a work permit, the IAS team of immigration specialists can help. Our Irish office is based in Limerick and the team are always happy to chat for free and with no obligation. Contact us now on +44 (0)333 305 9375.

          IAS are able to advise on an unbiased basis in regards to visa types, the chances of successful application and how best to approach visa applications; as well as support throughout the process from end-to-end.

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                    Frequently Asked Questions

                    Ireland has strict requirements for those residence outside of the EEA or EU and will only grant employment permits to those with a specific skill the country has a shortage of or where an employment contract or offer is already in place.

                    If married, a general work permit holder may move their partner to Ireland with them after a year of service, providing they meet the relevant entry visa criteria.

                    The minimum salary for a General Employment Permit in Ireland varies, but in most cases the sum is set at €30,000.

                    There are various roles not currently eligible for the grant of an Ireland General Employment Permit. The Ineligible List of Occupations for employment permits can be found online and is updated periodically by the relevant authorities.