A look at employing non-EEA nationals - the nine types of employment permits

One of the key issues facing many small businesses at present is attracting key staff in a highly competitive employee market. We are seeing a big rise in the number of queries on how to employ non-EEA nationals and to navigate the employment permit process. Over the next few weeks we cover different aspects of the employment permit process. This week we start with the nine types of employment permits.


In order to work in Ireland a non-EEA National, unless they are exempted, must hold a valid employment permit which is administered by the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation (DBEI). There are nine categories of employment permits which are as follows:


Critical skills employment permit

The critical skills employment permit is designed to attract highly skilled people into the Irish labour market and aims to encourage them to take up permanent residence in the State. This permit is only valid in relation to roles that are listed on the Highly Skilled Eligible Occupations List.


This type of permit is valid for two years and can be further extended. It does not require a labour market test, it lasts for two years and permit holders can easily apply for the dependent/partner/spouse employment permit if they bring their family over. The minimum annual wage is €30K-€60K per annum for a restricted number of roles and €60K or more per annum for all other roles.


General employment permit

The general employment permit is the main type of employment permit that is used by the State to attract third country nationals for occupations that are experiencing a labour or skills shortage. It allows for a broader range of occupations than the Highly Skilled Eligible Occupations List. However, there are a number of occupations that are ineligible and will not qualify under this type of permit. You can view the Ineligible Categories of Employment List here.


This type of permit is valid for two years and can be extended for a further three years. It must be a bone fide job offer and the minimum annual wage is €30K per annum, however, there are a few exceptions. A labour market test is required for this permit type and we will discuss the labour market test in next week’s article.


Dependant/partner/spouse employment permit

The dependant/partner/spouse employment permit allows the dependants, civil partners, and spouses of certain categories of employment permit holder, known as the primary permit holder, to apply for an employment permit to work in the State. It does not require a labour test and the minimum annual wage is €30K.


Reactivation employment permit

The reactivation employment permit is used for situations where a foreign national who previously had a valid employment permit but who fell out of the system through no fault of their own or who has been badly treated or exploited in the workplace. This permit allows them to work legally again in the State.


Intra-company transfer employment permit

The intra-company transfer employment permit is designed to allow the transfer of senior management, key personnel or trainees who are non-EEA nationals from an overseas branch of a multinational corporation to its Irish branch.


Internship employment permit

The internship employment permit facilitates the employment of foreign nationals who are full-time students and who are enrolled in a third level institution outside the State, for the purpose of gaining work experience within the State. The internship can only be one of the occupations listed in the Highly Skilled Eligible Occupations List and their course of study must be relevant to that list. At the end of the internship the employee must leave the State.


Contract for services employment permit

The contract for services employment permit is specific to a foreign undertaking/contractor that has won a contract to provide services to an Irish entity on a contract for services basis. It allows the transfer of non-EEA employees to work on that Irish contract in Ireland.


Sport and cultural employment permit

The sport and cultural employment permit is specifically designed to allow foreign nationals to work in the sport and cultural sectors.


Exchange agreement employment permit

The exchange agreement employment permit is used to facilitate the employment of foreign nationals in the State, in line with prescribed agreements or other international agreements. An example of this is the Fulbright Programme.


Applications for employment permits should be made to the employment permits section of the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation by either the prospective employee (who has obtained a conditional job offer) or the prospective employer on behalf of a non-EEA national they wish to recruit.


The applicant is responsible for paying the related fees. With all employment permits, the employer is prohibited from deducting recruitment expenses from the employee’s pay or retaining the employee’s personal documents (such as a passport or IRP).


Since 11 December 2017 the previous registration certificate (GNIB card) has been replaced with a new registration certificate called the Irish Residence Permit (IRP) in line with EU standards.


If you have a concern about employment permits  you can contact Helen at SFA on 01 605 1668 or at helen.quinn@sfa.ie or visit our HR and employment law advice section on www.sfa.ie/advice

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In this issue
SFA E-zine – The Tuesday Edition
SFA in the media
A look at employing non-EEA nationals - the nine types of employment permits
SFA Affinity Scheme spotlight on..........
Solid growth in domestic activity supports SMEs, but international risks persist
Successful B2B event with Abbott diagnostics
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SFA Affinity Scheme webinar
Embracing diversity webinar
Taking Care of Business: Free advice and information for businesses in the Mid-West
Online GDPR Training