Irish work permit for highly skilled non-EEA nationals a sure thing

By Peter Dlhopolec / February 11, 2020
Irish work permit

Non-EEA nationals contribute thousands of euros to Ireland’s treasury by applying for and extending their work permits each year. 

Obtaining an Irish work permit by highly skilled non-EEA nationals in Ireland may be something easily accessible provided they studied the right profession. However, the work permit itself is somewhat costly.

Ireland, which operates an employment permits system to regulate arrival of workers from outside Ireland and European Economic Area (EEA) countries, created the Critical Skills Employment Permits List. Unlike the list on ineligible professions, it opens the door to non-EEA nationals to fill the gaps in Ireland’s labour market.

Hence, whether they are scientists in biotechnology, electrical engineers, architects, ICT professionals, perfusionists, registered nurses and midwives, high performance coaches or design artists in 2D or 3D animation, they are more than welcomed on the island.

No Irish work permit after two years

An Irish work permit is, however, needed in the case of people who work in highly demanded professions as well; only EEA citizens do not need to apply for employment permits.

Compared to other types of work permits, in particular a general work permit, the critical skills employment permit is easier to obtain. As some jobs requiring highly skilled professionals are in short supply in Ireland, applicants do not have to wait weeks for a labour market needs test to be carried out.

Eligibility for a critical skills employment permit

  • a relevant degree qualification for jobs in the Critical Skills Employment Permits List with a minimum annual remuneration of €32,000
  • in the case of a nurse or midwife, a third level degree or diploma accepted by the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland as a sufficient qualification for registration to practice as a nurse or midwife
  • all occupations with a minimum annual remuneration of over €64,000, other than those on the Ineligible List of Occupations for Employment Permits or which are contrary to the public interest (a non-EEA national who does not have a degree qualification or higher, must have the necessary level of experience)
  • the prospective employee concerned must have secured a two-year job offer in respect of the eligible occupation from the prospective employer
  • an employment permit will not be granted to companies unless 50% or more of the employees in the firm are EEA nationals at the time of application

Additionally, the critical skills work permit allows for reunification of immediate families. Family members can also seek jobs without any restrictions. However, they have to apply for a dependant/partner/spouse employment permit. This one is issued for free unlike other types, including the critical skills employment permit of €1,000 for two years. If an application is unsuccessful, 90% of the fee is refunded to an applicant.

Those granted the critical skills employment permits can also change an employer after one year within the two-year period but must apply for a new employment permit at the same time.

READ ALSO: Ireland to accept more workers from outside the EU after updates to employment permits

After 24 months, permit holders can prolong their immigration permission from the Garda National Immigration Bureau for another two years without needing to reapply for a work permit. Instead, they can apply for a support letter from the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation, which they will then present to the Garda National Immigration Bureau. After five years, they can apply for long-term residence.

NOTE: Applicants should not forget to apply for visa if required in the case of a successful application. After their arrival to Ireland, it is necessary to register with the Garda National Immigration Bureau as well.   

Fees for work permits

Most work permits in Ireland cost hundreds of euros. The sums are paid by employers or employees, who can both apply for work permits. While businesses can pay via electronic funds transfer only, individuals can make paper-based payments or transfer their payments electronically.

Although non-EEA nationals have to pay for an Irish work permit, whether it is critical skills or general employment work permits, there are few exemptions. These concern employers with charitable status and non-EEA nationals married to or in a civil partnership with an EEA national.

About the author

Peter Dlhopolec

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