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Visas & Work Permits in Ireland

The Guide to Visa Types and Work Permit Requirements

There are many different types of visas expats can apply for when moving to Ireland. In general, people relocating from other EU/EEA countries will not need anything other than a guarantee that they can financially support themselves in the country. Non-EU/EEA nationals will need apply for work visas, either for skilled workers or self-employed, which will grant them temporary or permanent residence permits.

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When you apply for an Irish visa, the application process and required materials will differ dependent on whether you are from an EU/EEA country or not. For the most part, EU/EEA citizens have the “freedom of movement” in Ireland and can move to the country without a visa or work permit. They may remain in the country without a job for a period of three months. Afterwards, they need to declare their residency in the country and prove that they have sufficient financial means to support themselves.

Non-EU/EEA residents will need to take a longer approach. To live and work in Ireland as a third-country national, you will need to go through the full visa and application process, as well as verify that you qualify for all the Irish visa requirements. While the requirements for an Irish visa are not as stringent as countries like Sweden or Germany, you will need to verify that you have a job or intend to invest a great deal of money into the national economy. Ireland’s visa cost may also be higher than some would expect.

Want to know more? Continue reading our guide to ensure you are fully prepared to apply for (and receive) your Irish visa.

Work Permits and Employment-Based Visas

As with everything related to immigration in Europe, the requirements for an Irish work permit or employment visa vary depending on whether you are an EU/EEA citizen or not.

For EU/EEA Nationals

Citizens of the EU/EEA do not need a work visa in order to obtain employment in Ireland, nor do you need a job offer. If you intend to live and work in the country for longer than three months, you will need to provide proof of employment or sufficient income.

For Non-EU/EEA Nationals

If you are a non-EU/EEA national, you will need to get permission to work from the Irish immigration authorities. This means you will need to apply for a work permit first and then apply for a work visa. The type of work permit you apply for will depend on your job type and duration of your stay. You can read more about these in the Ireland Work Permit Types section below.

Ireland Work Visa Requirements

Some requirements of an Irish work visa will depend on the specific visa you are applying for, but nearly every visa will require these standard materials:

  • Ireland work visa application form;
  • Ireland work permit;
  • your valid passport;
  • passport-sized photo;
  • your contact details;
  • proof of paid work visa fees;
  • proof of legal residence in the country from which you are applying;
  • letter explaining that your purpose of travel is to gain employment;
  • evidence of your accommodation in Ireland;
  • if applicable, details of previous visas (approved and rejected);
  • details of previous work experience, such as a CV;
  • proof of educational qualifications and degrees (you may need to present your physical diploma);
  • proof of sufficient funds (typically bank statements from the previous six months on bank letterhead and clearly displaying your number, address, and contact details);
  • proof you will return to your origin country;
  • proof of medical insurance (in Ireland, you must take out private medical insurance covering at least 25,000 EUR (27,500 USD) for cases of accidents, disease, and hospitalization);
  • self-addressed, pre-paid envelope.

Ireland Work Permit Types

To get a work visa, you must first receive a valid work permit from the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation (DBEI). The type of permit that you apply for will depend on your employment conditions as well as the type of job you have.

There are nine work permits expats can apply for in Ireland, but the two main work permits are the Critical Skills Employment Permit and the General Employment Permit.

Critical Skills Employment Permit

This work permit used to be known as the Green Card (not to be confused with the green card in the US). Expats who qualify for this visa must first meet one of two qualifications. The first is that you do not work for a profession that is found on the ineligible jobs list. If your profession is on this list then you may not apply for this visa, and you will find it difficult to apply for any other work visa as well.

Requirements for Ireland’s Critical Skills Employment Permit

One requirement for applying for Ireland’s Critical Skills Employment Permit is having a profession that is considered a “highly skilled occupation.” Expats who work in these professions are especially sought after because these jobs are currently facing shortages in Ireland. Professions that are currently deemed “highly skilled” include:

  • Natural and Social Science (chemists, biologists, biochemists, physicists, and medical laboratory scientists);
  • Engineering;
  • Information and communications technology (ICT);
  • Health (medical practitioners, pharmacists, etc);
  • Health and Social Services (managers and directors);
  • Nursing and Midwifery;
  • Orthoptics;
  • Health Associate (prosthetists, orthotists);
  • Teaching and Education (academics with the equivalent of a doctoral degree);
  • Business, Research, and Administration;
  • Architecture (town planners and surveyors);
  • Quality and Regulatory;
  • Media (Art Director in 2D or 3D animation);
  • Artistic, Literary, and Media;
  • Design;
  • Sports and Fitness;
  • Sales, Marketing, and Related Associate.

For a fully up-to-date list, see the DBEI’s website.

Other Requirements

If your profession is not listed, you may still qualify for the Critical Skills Employment visa. In addition to working in one of the listed fields, expats looking to apply for this Irish work visa must also meet the following requirements:

  • if your profession is on the “highly skilled” list, then you must receive an annual salary of at least 30,000 EUR (33,350 USD);
  • if your profession is not on the “highly skilled” list, then you must receive an annual salary of 60,000 EUR (66,700 USD);
  • your offered work contract must be for a period of two years;
  • you must hold the relevant degrees and experience required to accept your position.

Other requirements for the Critical Skills Employment visa include the above listed standard materials such as a copy of your passport and work history. For this visa you will also be asked to submit:

  • copy of the work contract signed by you and your employer;
  • if you are a resident in Ireland at the time of application, a copy of your current immigration stamp;
  • Relevant Registration/Pin or License number of the company issued by the appropriate Irish Regulatory bodies or Government Ministers;
  • if applicable, a letter of support by IDA/Enterprise Ireland.

The following details will be required of your employer:

  • registered and trading name of their company/business;
  • details on the type and nature of their company/business;
  • number of hired employees in the company and their nationalities (regarding EU/EEA or not);
  • registration number of the employer;
  • company name and address;
  • details of your title, duties; and responsibilities;
  • duration of your employment and salary;
  • details of the qualifications, skills, knowledge, and experience you have in order to meet the needs of the job.
Obtaining the Critical Skills Employment Permit

Once you have been granted your Critical Skills Employment visa and begin work, you must remain with that company for at least one full year. After this period , you may change employers. Your employer must also prove that their company has a staff made up of at least 50% EU/EEA citizens at the time of your hiring.

If you are hired as a Critical Skills employee, your company will not be required to take the Labor Market Needs Test. You can read more about this test under the General Employment Permit section below.

General Employment Permit

If your job and salary do not qualify you for the Critical Skills Employment visa, you can apply for the General Employment permit. Keep in mind, your job still cannot fall on the ineligible list of occupations.

This permit is also called simply: the work permit. It can last for six months or two years dependent on the job you are offered. If you apply for a six-month permit, the permit cost will be 500 EUR (560 USD); a two-year permit is 1,000 EUR (1110 USD).

Requirements for Ireland’s General Employment Permit

The following are the requirements to be eligible for the Irish General Employment Permit:

  • you must earn a minimum of 30,000 EUR (33,000 USD) per year (exceptions are made for recent higher education graduates, who can earn a minimum of 27,000 EUR (29,700 USD) annually);
  • your employer must be registered with the Revenue Commissioners and with the Companies Registration Office/Registry of Friendly Societies;
  • your company must be made of at least 50% EU/EEA citizens unless they are a startup or you are the only employee;
  • you must have the relevant degree(s) and experience necessary to qualify for the position for which you have been hired.

Other requirements, such as a passport photo or copy of your employment contract, are similar to what is asked for the Critical Skills Employment visa. In addition, your employer will need to pass the Labor Market Needs Test in order to prove no other EU/EEA citizen was fit for the job, and that the company posted the job long enough for EU/EEA citizens to apply.

Other Work Permit Types in Ireland

  • Dependent/Partner/Spouse Employment Permits: This visa is both a work visa and a family visa. It is issued to the dependent, partner, or spouse of a Critical Skills Employment permit holder. It allows holders to work in any profession, even ones that are on the ineligible list (with the exception of working as a domestic operative).
  • Intra-Company Transfer Employment Permit: It is issued to expats who transfer to the Irish branch of a company in which they are already employed. This is typically only available for senior management, key personnel, and trainees.
  • Contract for Services Employment Permit: It is only valid for one full year and it cannot be renewed. It is issued to full-time students who are still enrolled in a higher education institution and wish to come to Ireland for work experience.
  • Sport and Cultural Employment Permit: Issued to foreigners who are especially qualified in a sports field.
  • Reactivation Permit: Issued to former holder of Irish employment permits, who lost their jobs due to forces beyond their control (i.e. being made redundant or workplace harassment).
  • Exchange Agreement Employment Permit: For expats who are coming to work in Ireland under an international exchange agreement such as a Fulbright Scholarship.
  • Contract for Services Employment Permit: Issued to those who are still employed by a foreign institution and come to Ireland to work for an Irish national/company.

Where do I Apply for the Work Permit?

The application form for the Irish work permit can be found on the Employee Permits Online System (EPOS). Either you or your employer can submit the application. You will be prompted on the site as to which permit you are applying for.

Applying for the Irish Work Visa

You can apply for your Irish work visa once you have applied for your work permit. This will be a long-stay D-visa. Unlike the work permit, you will apply for the work visa through the Irish Naturalization and Immigration Service (INIS).

When you finish applying for the work permit, the online EPOS will prompt you on the steps you need to take to apply for the visa. This will include submitting all of your supporting documents such as your passport, CV, proof of medical insurance, etc. The system will tell you where you will be submitting the documents.

Visa decisions are typically given eight weeks after submitting your application.

Ireland Work Visa Cost

Work visa costs will vary from 500—1,000 EUR (560—1110 USD) depending on the length of the visa’s validity. On average, six-month permits will cost just 500 EUR and two-year permits will cost 1,000 EUR.

Should your work permit be granted, there will also be a visa fee that will cover the cost of processing your application. This fee cannot be refunded even if you are denied a visa. The fees vary depending on how many times you plan to leave and return to Ireland:

  • Single entry: 25 EUR (30 USD)
  • Multiple entry: 100 EUR (110 USD)

A few select nationalities are able to have their visa fee waived. This waiver applies to nationals from the following countries:

  • Bosnia
  • Cote d’Ivoire
  • Ecuador
  • Indonesia
  • Jamaica
  • Kosovo
  • Kyrgyzstan
  • Montenegro
  • Morocco
  • North Macedonia
  • Peru
  • Serbia
  • Sri Lanka
  • Tunisia
  • Uganda
  • Zambia

Where do I Find an Irish Work Visa Application Form?

To start your application for an Irish work visa, you must go online. The application can be found on the Employee Permits Online System (EPOS). Either you or your employer can submit the application. The site will prompt you to follow specific steps depending on the type of visa you are applying for.

Business Visa

A business visa in Ireland is a short stay visa, or a ‘C’ visa. It allows holders to stay in the country for up to 90 days and work for a period of up to 14 days. It also allows holders to perform activities related to their job such as attending meetings, signing contracts, etc.

If you are coming to Ireland for a conference or business event, please note that this is not the visa you will need. Instead, you will need to apply for a short-term conference/event C-visa, which applies specifically to conferences and events. This visa does not allow for work during this time.

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Self-Employment Visas

Citizens of the EU, EEA, UK, and Switzerland do not need a self-employment visa in order to live and work in Ireland. Nationals who hold passports from these countries may move and immediately start working freelance positions. Citizens who are not from one of these countries must apply for one of two different self-employment schemes: the Immigrant Investor Program or the Start-Up Entrepreneur Program.

Immigrant Investor Program

This scheme allows for non-EU/EEA residents and their immediate family members to come to Ireland in order to invest in an opportunity that is good for the country, creates Irish jobs, and is of general public interest. The visas distributed will be valid for five years and good for multiple entry.

Requirements to Apply for the Immigrant Investor Program

Expats will need a considerable amount of money to apply for this visa. For starters, the person applying for the scheme (the investor) must have a net worth of at least 2 million EUR (2.2 million USD). You will be required to provide evidence of this.

In addition to your own requirements, your investment must meet the criteria of one of the following categories:

  • Enterprise Investment: A minimum 1 million EUR (1.1 million USD) aggregate investment into new/existing Irish businesses. This must be for a proposed period of at least three years. This can be an investment into one single business or spread out among multiple companies. Investing in a start-up is possible.
  • Investment Fund: Putting in a minimum 1 million EUR into an investment fund that invests in Irish businesses or project. Like the Enterprise Investment, this must be for a period of at least three years.
  • Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT): This category requires a minimum 2 million EUR investment in any REIT listed on the Irish Stock Exchange.
  • Endowment: An investor must give at least 500,000 EUR (550,000 USD) to a public project that benefits art, sport, health, culture, or education within Ireland.

You can apply for the investment scheme before making the investment. For more about this program, see the Irish government’s guideline for applicants. 

Start-Up Entrepreneur Program

This program is often referred to as STEP. Like the Immigrant Investor Program, it requires foreigners to spend a good deal of money, although not nearly as much. Its aim is to promote “high potential start-ups,” which are defined as:

  • introducing a new/innovative product or to international markets;
  • involved in manufacturing or trading international services;
  • able to create at least ten jobs in Ireland;
  • able to create at least 1 million EUR (1.1 million USD) in sales within 3—4 years;
  • led by an experienced management team;
  • less than five years old.

Ireland Self-Employment Visa: Requirements

In addition to the monetary requirements of each self-employment program, to apply for this visa you will also need to submit an application form that contains the following information:

  • your contact details;
  • passport information;
  • details of a spouse or any dependents you want to move with;
  • passport information for that spouse or dependents;
  • evidence of your relationship to your spouse and dependents (marriage certificate, birth certificates, etc.);
  • bank statements;
  • police background check for everyone on the application over the age of 16;
  • evidence of your investment or start-up.

Application forms for both the Immigrant Investor Program and Start-Up Entrepreneur Program can be found on the Department of Justice and Equality website. To start the process, you can only submit your application during specified dates every year. These dates typically encompass one week in February, April, June, August, and October. Refer to the government website for more details.

Visa Cost

For the Immigrant Investor Program, you will need to pay a nonrefundable fee of 1,500 EUR (1,600 USD). The Start-Up Entrepreneur Program application requires 350 EUR (380 USD).

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Residency Permits: Temporary and Permanent

Want to know how to become a permanent resident in Ireland? Applying for temporary or long-term residence in Ireland first depends on your original country of residence. In general, only non-EU/EEA nationals may apply.

How to Apply for a Temporary Resident Permit

Temporary residence permits are only for non-EU/EEA nationals and people not from Switzerland or the UK. If you are an EU/EEA or Swiss national, you may live and work in Ireland without the need for a visa. After three months of residing there, you must meet one of the following requirements:

  • be either employed or self-employed;
  • have enough financial resources and health insurance to ensure that you do not become a burden on the social services of Ireland;
  • be enrolled as a student or vocational trainee;
  • be a family member of an EU citizen who meets one of the previous criteria.
UK Nationals

Immediately following Brexit, UK nationals also must simply meet one of the above-mentioned requirements in order to be allowed temporary or permanent residence. There is no fee required. For the most up-to-date information regarding UK nationals living in Ireland, please refer to the Irish Citizens Information website.

Requirements and Fees for a Temporary Resident Permit

Any third-country national wishing to remain in Ireland for a period longer than their allotted tourist visa (on average: three months) must apply for a temporary residence permit. As there is no way for a non-EU, EEA, Swiss, or British national to live in Ireland without a form of employment or enrolled in an academic institution, this will require a work permit. For more on the requirements and fees to secure this visa type, see our section on Work Permits and Employment Based Visas above.

What is a Stamp 0?

Stamp 0 is a long-term residency program in Ireland that is intended for non-EU/EEA retiree expats who wish to move to there, but will not work. This visa scheme is granted to three types of foreigners:

  • elderly dependents;
  • people of “independent means” who can prove a financial threshold of 50,000 EUR (54,000 USD) per person per year;
  • visiting academics.

While some expats may live in Ireland for years on this visa, it is not intended to be a permanent solution. Retirees who enter Ireland with this visa are granted a specific length of stay for very limited purposes. They cannot access State benefits while on this visa, which means that they cannot take part in the public health system and other public ventures.

For more, please refer to the Irish government’s pamphlet detailing this immigration permission.

Obtaining Permanent Residency in Ireland

How can you obtain permanent residency in Ireland? The steps are relatively simple, but time consuming. In general, expats are able to apply for permanent Irish residency once they have lived and worked in the country for a minimum of five years (60 months). If you are living in Ireland as a family member of an Irish resident (whether they are an Irish national, permanent resident, or EU/EEA national), then you still must have lived there for a period of five years before applying for permanent residency.

Requirements to Apply for Permanent Residency in Ireland

In addition to the length of time you must have lived in Ireland, you will also need to fulfill the following requirements:

  • you have resided in the country with some type of work authorization, such as an Employment Permit, and have held a Stamp 1 or Stamp 4;
  • your Irish Residence Permit must be valid at the time of your application;
  • you must be employed at the time of application, and will continue to be afterwards;
  • you are of good character.

Required Documents and Where to Send Them

The documents you are required to submit with your application include:

  • copy of each of your Irish work permits;
  • copy of your Certificate of Registration (GNIB card);
  • copy of your passport, including the identity page and all pages containing stamps;
  • cover letter stating your intention to apply for long-term residency and a description of all the documents you are sending with your application.

You will submit your Irish permanent resident application to the Department of Justice and Equality at following address:

Long Term Residency Division
P.O. Box 12079
Dublin 1

For more information, visit the Department of Justice and Equality’s website.

Who is Ineligible to Apply for a Long-Term Irish Visa?

Even if you have lived in Ireland for a period of five years, you are ineligible to apply for permanent residency if you meet any of the following criteria:

  • you have lived in Ireland with a Student Visa;
  • you have lived in Ireland as an Intra-Company Transferee;
  • you are an employee at a foreign embassy in Ireland;
  • you received Permission to Remain under the Working Holiday Visa scheme;
  • you only hold a Green Card (Employment) permit;
  • you are living in Ireland under Business Permission;
  • you are living in Ireland under the Turkish Agreement;
  • you have received permission to remain in the country under humanitarian grounds;
  • you have received Refugee Status;
  • you received permission to remain in Ireland under the IBC and IBC-05 (Irish Born Child) schemes.

Permanent Resident Fees in Ireland

The fee for a long-term residency permit is 500 EUR (540 USD). Once your application has been approved, you will have 28 days from the date of approval to pay this fee. This can be paid either by a bank transfer or via a postal order to the Secretary General.

Permanent Resident Benefits Ireland

There are many benefits to being a permanent Irish resident. A big one is not having to renew your visa as often as before. A permanent residency visa is valid for a period of five years and can be renewed. If you have moved to Ireland with a spouse of dependents, your residency status will be passed onto them. Likewise, with your children holding permanent Irish residency status, they will be able to attend Irish universities tuition free.

As an Irish resident, you will also enjoy the benefits of being an EU resident and the perks that come with “freedom of movement.”

Family Visas

There are several types of family visas expats moving to Ireland can apply for. On the whole, if you are already an EU/EEA national and wish to join another EU/EEA national, you may do so. You will simply need to register your residence and your marriage with the local authorities.

Non-EU/EEA nationals, and nationals who are neither Swiss nor British, will have to apply for a visa under the Non-EEA Family Reunification scheme. This applies to children and dependents.

Irish Spouse or Fiancé Visa

The process of applying for a spousal or fiancé visa depends on the nationality and residency status of both you and your partner. In general, Ireland does have schemes that allow for partners—both legally wed and long-term de facto/civil unions—to join either Irish nationals or permanent residents in Ireland. Keep in mind that even if your significant other is an Irish national, this does not automatically grant you residency. You will still need to apply for an official visa and permission to live there. It is also not a guarantee that you will be able to work while on a spouse, fiancé, and de factor partnership visa.

Keep in mind that Ireland is still a somewhat conservative country. To prove you have a de facto marriage, you may need to submit evidence that you and your partner have lived together for at least five years.

Consult with the Department of Justice and Equality’s website for more information.

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Updated on: March 20, 2020
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