Immigration to Ireland
May 6, 2022
Whether you’re a recent graduate hoping to spend a year in Ireland gaining some valuable experience, a professional looking to take your career to the next level, or are even thinking about making Ireland home for you and your family, you’ll find Ireland’s welcoming reputation is backed up by an open and simple immigration process.
Where you’re coming from
If you’re coming from the European Economic Area (EEA -countries of the EU and Norway, Iceland & Liechtenstein) or Switzerland, you’re in luck. You don’t need a visa for Ireland or a work permit. Just book a flight, it’s that simple.
If you’re coming to Ireland for more than three months from outside the EEA or Switzerland, you’ll find the process of moving to Ireland much more simple than it can be for other countries. You may need a visa for Ireland, depending on where you are moving from, and you’ll definitely need an employment permit.
A visa allows you to enter a country, while an employment permit allows you to work during your stay. The application processes for visas and employment permits are separate, and are granted by two different government departments.
If your spouse/civil partner is an EU/EEA citizen, then you might be able to skip the visa/work permit process. In this case, contact the issuing member state of the residency card for further information.
Visas for Ireland
You can find out what you need to enter Ireland based on your nationality here. Simply select your nationality from the dropdown menu, select how long you’re planning on staying and type of visa required. You’ll then be given a list of what you need to do before you travel, when you travel, and after you’ve arrived in Ireland. If you’re intending to stay for less than 90 days, you should apply for a short-stay ‘C’ visa. For those who plan to work and live in Ireland for more than 90 days, you’ll need to apply for the long-stay ‘D’ visa.
Visas to Ireland are issued by the Department of Justice and Equality. You can make your online application from your home country and submit your hard copy application and supporting documentation to the relevant Irish Embassy/Consulate/Visa Office. The visa fee is €60 and there may be other costs in gathering the documents needed for your application. You can generally expect a decision within 8 weeks from the date on which your application is lodged at the Embassy/Consulate/Visa Office.
Work Permits for Ireland
Employment permits are issued by the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation. Once an employee holds an employment permit and is working, they have the same Irish Employment Rights as Irish citizens. There are numerous types of employment permits available, but for those looking to enter the tech industry, there are two main routes; the Critical Skills Employment Permit and the General Employment Permit.
The Critical Skills Employment Permit
This permit is only open to those in professions on the Highly Skilled Eligible Occupations List. This makes it a prime opportunity for those working in the tech industry, as many skills are currently in high demand in the Irish labour market, including web design and development professionals, programming and other ICT professions.
There are a number of advantages when choosing the Critical Skills Employment Permit route:
- Because the skills are identified as being in short supply, a Labour Market Needs Test is not required.
- Permit holders can apply for immediate family reunification from the Irish Naturalisation & Immigration Service of the Department of Justice and Equality and once their dependents/partners/spouses are resident in the State they are eligible to seek any employment and apply to the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation for a Dependant/Partner/Spouse Employment Permit which is currently issued free of charge.
- Permit holders may apply to the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service for permission to reside and work without the requirement for an employment permit upon completion of the Critical Skills Employment Permit’s duration.
Annual remuneration for the job offered must be at least €30,000 and the prospective employee concerned must have secured a 2-year job offer in respect of the eligible occupation from the prospective employer.
The fee for this permit is €1,000.
The General Employment Permit
This permit allows the holder to take up employment in a wider range of fields, excluding those on the list of Ineligible Categories of Employment for Employment Permits.
Annual remuneration for the job must be at least €30,000. In certain cases, the required annual remuneration may be lowered to €27,000. These exceptions are as follows:
- A non-EEA student who has graduated within 12 months from an overseas third-level institution and has been offered a graduate position on the Highly Skilled Eligible Occupations list
- A non-EEA student who has graduated within 12 months from a non-EEA institution and has been offered a graduate position from the ICT Category on the Highly Skilled Eligible Occupations list
In both of these cases, in order to renew the permit, you must be earning at least €30,000.
A General Employment Permit is issued first for 2 years and then may be renewed for a further 3 years. Permit holders may be able to bring their dependents to Ireland after 1 year, but must be able to support them financially. They can apply for residency after 5 years.
There is a €500 fee for a permit of 6 months or less, and a €1,000 fee for a permit of 6 months to 2 years.
Applying for an employment permit
You must receive a job offer before you can apply for an employment permit. You can apply for an employment permit yourself or your employer can apply for it on your behalf, but applications from recruiters or other agencies will not be accepted. Employers may cover the cost of the permit.
Applications are made online and the current processing time of both Critical Skills and General permits is about eight weeks.
Refusals of employment permits
There are a number of reasons your application for an employment permit or renewal may be refused.
- You entered Ireland as a visitor, and not an employee
- You are in Ireland illegally or no longer meet the conditions under which you first entered
- You are being deported or have been asked to leave Ireland by the Department of Justice and Equality
- You are seeking employment with a non-EEA/Swiss employer who does not have permission to be operating in Ireland
All refusals for an employment permit may be appealed within 28 days.
Permanent Residency in Ireland
Generally, you can apply for residency after legally living in Ireland for 5 years. This includes General Employment Permit holders. However, as a nice advantage for techies, Critical Skills Employment Permit holders can apply for residency after just 2 years. Once you’ve been granted residency, you won’t need any further employment permits.
Be aware that your time spent living legally in Ireland is not based on dates of your visa or employment permits, it’s based on when you register with Immigration. This means it’s very important that you do this as soon as possible after arriving as delays in registering can cause serious complications when applying for residency or further permits/visas. In Dublin, you can register at the Garda National Immigration Bureau, and outside of Dublin you can register at your local Garda District Headquarters. There’s a €300 fee for each certificate of registration issued.
Citizenship in Ireland
After five years of residency and supporting yourself in Ireland, you may be eligible to apply for citizenship. Being a citizen in Ireland entitles you to apply for an Irish passport as well as to vote in all Irish elections and makes you a citizen of the EU. You can find out more about applying for citizenship at Citizens’ Information.