What types of work permits can non-EEA nationals apply for?

Moving to Ireland from outside the EU with a view to obtaining work? Here is an overview of the nine work permit types granted in Ireland. 

The whole process of getting a job in Ireland is a more difficult and a costlier task for people coming to Ireland from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) as they must have one of nine different work permit types apart from visa.

The Employment Permits Act from 2006, updated a few times since, lists nine different types of work permits, descriptions of which are outlined below. There are four main types: a general employment permit, critical skills employment permit, dependant/partner/spouse employment permit, and reactivation employment permit.


If a foreign national holds this type of permit, they are eligible for any occupations unless excluded under the Ineligible List of Occupations for Employment Permits. Either the foreign national or their prospective employer can apply for the permit; the contract offered to the foreign national must not be shorter than 12 months. This permit can be issued for a period of two years with a possibility to renew it for up to three years. At a later stage, foreign nationals are allowed to apply for long term residency.

ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA (See a full list of criteria here.)
  • Minimum annual remuneration of above €30,000. However, there are few exceptions. 
  • The job is not on the Ineligible List of Occupations for Employment Permits. 
  • A full description of the proposed employment.
  • A Labour Market Needs Test may be asked to be carried out. 
  • A prospective employee must possess the relevant qualifications and skills. Details must be entered in the online application. No documents are required to be uploaded.  

Prior to this type of work permit and general work permit being introduced, Ireland used the Green Card type work permits. The critical skills employment permit is targeted on high skilled foreign nationals from outside EEA. People can apply, provided they possess the required skills, for employment put on the Critical Skills Occupations List.  One big advantage is no requirement for the Labour Market Needs Test.


In March 2019, the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation (DBEI) removed the requirement for spouses of critical skills employment permit (CSEP) holders and researchers under a hosting agreement to obtain an employment permit to attract international talent. The spouses, however, are required to obtain a visa; if they are eligible, they are granted Stamp 1.

But dependents of CSEP holders are still required to obtain a work permit to be allowed to work in Ireland. That is why Ireland provides an opportunity for dependents to apply for this type of work permit. They are also granted a Stamp 3 immigration permission to legally reside and work in Ireland.

Only dependents who are related to and reside with the CSEP holder or the researcher, are not in full-time education, and reside in Ireland on a continual basis are eligible for the dependent work permit.

The dependent employment permits have several benefits, namely no fee for the application and no requirement to undertake the Labour Market Needs Test. A dependent is expected to stay with the initial employer for at least 12 months.

This type of permit is valid for as long as the CSEP holder’s permit is still in force or until the expiry of their immigration stamp.

More information can be found here.


This permit has been created and is designed to permit a non-EEA national who came to Ireland on a valid work permit but later “fell out of the system through no fault of their own”, that is they were made, for example, redundant. The permit is also to help those foreign nationals who have been exploited in their previous workplace.

Applicants must first turn to the Immigration Service Delivery (ISD) to submit an application for permission to stay in Ireland so that they could apply for a work permit. If they are granted a temporary Stamp 1 immigration permission and receive a “Reactivation Employment Permit” letter from the Department of Justice and Equality, they can proceed to an application for a reactivation work permit.

More information on conditions and eligibility can be found here.

NOTE: General work permit and critical skills work permit holders are not eligible for the reactivation work permit. These people have six months to seek the same employment for the same category of job and to apply for a new employment permit.  

  •         5.  Intra-Company Transfer Employment Permit aims to allow senior management and key personnel and trainees from an overseas branch of a multinational corporation to work temporarily for its Irish branch while staying on the foreign payroll. Senior management and key personnel must earn at least €40,000 a year (€30,000 in the case of trainees). Also, senior management and key personnel must have been working for at least six months for the overseas company prior to transfer (a period of one month is required in the case of trainees). Read more about this permit here.
  •        6.  Contract for Services Employment Permit is designed for a foreign company that is to provide services to an Irish company and wishes to send out non-EEA employees to work on the undertaking. These workers must have been working for a minimum period of six months for their company prior to applying for the work permit. A Labour Market Needs Test is required in most cases. If the undertaking is to take less than three months to complete, the applicant may use the Atypical Working Scheme. More information on this permit can be found here.
  •        7Internship Employment Permit is available to non-EEA full-time students enrolled in universities outside Ireland who wish to gain work experience in the country for no more than 12 months. Prior to applying for the permit, they must have an internship offer. The internship must be related to jobs put on the Highly Skilled Eligible Occupations List. Students must return to their university after completing their internship to complete their studies. More information available here.
  •        8.  Exchange Agreement Employment Permit allows non-EEA nationals to work in Ireland on the basis of prescribed agreements or other international agreements to which Ireland is a party (e.g. AIESEC, Fulbright  Programme). More information can be found here.
  •        9.  Sport & Cultural Employment permit is designed to facilitate the employment in Ireland of foreign nationals with the relevant qualifications, skills, experience or knowledge for the development, operation and capacity of sporting and cultural activities. More information is available here.
Peter Dlhopolec
Peter Dlhopolec

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