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Obtaining Work in Ireland
If you are a foreign national (such as an American) your potential employer has to make the application for a work permit for you. You can not apply for one on your own. He is required to prove that an attempt was made to hire an Irish citizen first, then an EU national, before hiring you. One way this is done is by running an ad in a national newspaper or contacting employment agencies and unions. All of this, and any responses, must be documented. He also must pay a fee with the application. It takes 4 to 6 weeks or longer for the application to be processed during which time you can not work, so the employer must be willing to hold the position open. Application for a work permit is no guarantee that one will be issued.

If you do receive a work permit then you must then go to the local immigration office with all your work permit information and apply to get a green book. This registers you as a legal alien, allowing you to stay in Ireland for a set time, usually one year maximum. At the end of the allotted time your permit must be renewed.

If you are coming to work in Ireland as an employee of a multi-national company they will have all the information you need and most likely the work arrangements already sorted out.

Over the past year it has been easier to get a work permit but it appears that is going to tighten up again due to the economic slow down and massive layoffs. Keep in mind you can only stay in Ireland for up to three months on your passport and can not work at all during that time. Getting a work permit does not entitle your spouse to work and permission must be applied for to allow your spouse to stay beyond the 3 months. Moving over with the expectaion of obtaining a job can be very costly, when you find in three months time you must leave.

If you qualify for dual citizenship then you will not need a work permit. To qualify either your parents or grandparents must have been born in Ireland. After obtaining their birth records you must contact an Irish consulatein your home country and have them send you the paperwork. This must be handled your home country. Once you meet all the requirements and proofs you are then issued an Irish passport.

Here is all the legal lingo from the government (their own document on work permits):


1.1 Work Permits are not required for the following:
1. A citizen of a Member State of the European Economic Area (EEA) and, where such a citizen is pursuing an activity as an employed or self-employed person within the State, his or her spouse and any of their children who are under the age of 21 years or are dependent on the EEA citizen. (The EEA comprises the European Union together with Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein).
2. Persons who have been granted refugee status by the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform.
3. Post graduate students where the work is an integral part of the course of study being undertaken. (This includes post graduate doctors and dentists with temporary registration.)
4. Van der Elst Case The European Court of Justice delivered a judgement on the Van der Elst Case (Freedom to Provide Services) on 9 August, 1994. The Court ruled that in the case of non-EEA workers legally employed in one Member State who are temporarily sent on a contract to another Member State, the employer does not need to apply for work permits in respect of the non-nationals for the period of contract.
5. Persons who have been granted permission by the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform to remain in the State on one of the following grounds:
(a) Persons with permission to remain as spouse of an Irish national,
(b) Persons with permission to remain as the parent of an Irish citizen,
(c) Persons who have been given temporary leave to remain in the State on humanitarian grounds, having been in the asylum process.
5. Persons who are posted on an intra-corporate transfer/secondment for a maximum period of four years to an establishment or undertaking in Ireland which is owned by a company or group which has operations in more than one State.
6. Persons coming to Ireland from an overseas company for a maximum period of three years for training, whether or not it entails remunerated work, at an Irish-based company.
1.2 As the primary function of the Department is to ensure that employment is available for Irish and other EEA nationals, employers who apply for work permits are generally required to establish that it has not been possible, in spite of reasonable efforts being made (e.g., by way of advertising the vacancy, seeking applicants from FAS or employment agencies or other such means), to fill the vacancy with an Irish or other person for whom a work permit is not required. A permit is granted when the employer establishes this to the satisfaction of the officer examining the application; otherwise, it is refused.
1.3 In addition to the circumstances outlined in paragraph 1.2, work permits are generally granted where it is established that the prospective employee:
1. is a doctor who has full medical registration from the Irish Medical Council and who has been offered a specified position in a hospital recognised by the Irish Medical Council ,
2. is an entertainer who is coming to Ireland to perform at a particular event (this would include groups of performers and their back up crews and film crews),
3. is a professional sportsperson and the granting of the permit would comply with the terms of an agreement made between the Department and the relevant sporting organisation,
4. is a participant in an exchange programme recognised by the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment,
5. is entitled to take up employment in Ireland under the terms of any international bilateral agreement ratified by Ireland.
1.4 In addition to the circumstances outlined in paragraph 1.2, work permits will be refused where the prospective employee -
1. has entered the State on the basis that he or she will not be taking up employment, i.e. visitors, students or tourists,
2. is in the State illegally or no longer complies with the conditions under which he/she was admitted,
3. has been asked by the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform to leave the State or is in the process of being deported or was in the State illegally and has been deported or has left the State having been asked to do so by the Department for Justice, Equality and Law Reform.
4. is seeking employment with a non EEA employer who is operating in the State without business permission from the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform.
1.5 the following should be noted about certain categories of prospective employee:
1. Students: It is a primary condition of entry into the State for students that they be in a position to maintain themselves while they are studying here. They are therefore permitted to enter and reside in the State on condition that they do not enter employment. Accordingly, with very limited exceptions (notably, under special, reciprocal schemes in respect of students from the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand) work permits are not granted in respect of students.
2. Ethnic restaurants: Because of the specialist nature of these establishments some permits per branch may be granted to ethnic restaurants in respect of qualified chefs/catering staff. The number of permits granted will depend upon the nature and scope of the restaurant and the number of EEA nationals employed in the business concerned.

2.1 The scale of fees for Work Permits at present are:

One month   32
Two months   63
Three months   95
Four months127
5 months to 1 year159

2.2 In certain circumstances (e.g. registered charities, recriprocal international agreements, spouses of certain diplomats) these fees may be waived. Full details are available on enquiry. How to Avail of the Service:
3.1 Applications for Work Permits should be made to the Work Permits Section of the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Davitt House, Adelaide Road, Dublin 2. Application must be made on the specified form - which is available from the Work Permits Section and must be accompanied by two recently taken passport-sized photographs of the person whose employment is sought as well as documentary evidence of the employer's efforts to recruit an Irish or other EEA national.
3.2 The application will then be examined in the Department by reference to the above criteria. Depending on the circumstances of the case, consultation may be necessary with other Departments and organisations (representative bodies, professional associations etc.)
3.3 Again, depending on the circumstances, further information or documentation may be requested of the applicant. This will be done in as timely a manner as is possible.
3.4 Once the application has been fully considered a decision will be taken either to issue or refuse a permit in the case concerned. Where a permit is issued conditions may also be attached where this is considered appropriate.
The period of validity of a permit will normally begin on the date of commencement of employment and will not, in any case, exceed one calendar year. Applications for ALL permits should be submitted at least FOUR WEEKS in advance.
Other requirements
Some nationalities require entry visas. For a list of those who don't require visas (any country omitted from that list will automatically require one to enter the country) please contact the postal or e-mail address below:
Visas Section
Immigration Division
Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform
72/76 St. Stephen's Green
Dublin 2
Tel: + 353 1 6789711
E-mail info@justice.irlgov.ie
The contact number in the Work Permits Section is 6313308
Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment
Davitt House
65a Adelaide Road
Dublin 2
Office opening hours: 9.15 am - 5.30 pm

Q.1. How long does it take to process an application?
A.1. From receipt of a work permit application, it takes approximately 4 weeks to process . Once the application has been fully considered a decision will be taken either to issue or refuse in the case concerned.
Q.2. Who applies for a work permit?
A.2. A work permit may only be applied for by an EMPLOYER on behalf of a prospective employee.
Q.3. How long does a work permit last?
A.3. The duration of a work permit can be between one month to one year. The period of validity of a permit will normally begin on the date of commencement of employment and in any case, not exceed one calendar year. Applications for renewal of permits can be made on the expiry of the relevant period.
Q.4. Can a person work whilst waiting for a work permit to issue?
A.4. No , a work permit must issue to an employer before the prospective employee can take up an offer of employment.Entering the service of an employer in the State without having a valid work permit is an offence under Irish law.
Q.5. Does a Non-EEA national married to an Irish national need a work permit?
A.5. As from 06/04/99 any Non-EEA married to an Irish National and who has been granted permission to remain in the State does not need a work permit to work in Ireland.

Last updated 15th September 2000