Changes to Employment Permit for non-EEA Employees

New changes to the Employment Permit for non-EEA employees to address immediate labour shortages in sectors such as hospitality, construction and health have been introduced. 


Employment Permits Act 2003 and 2012 state that a non-EEA National may not work in the state without an employment permit. There are 9 types of Employment Permits including a General Employment Permit (work permit), a Dependant/Partner/Spouse Employment Permit and recently amended Critical Skills Employment Permit (Green Card permit). The Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation (DBEI) conduct a comprehensive review twice a year to assess if they need to make changes to the employment permit system, namely the Critical Skills and Ineligible Lists of Occupations. 


Critical skills employment permit 
The critical skills employment permit is designed to attract highly skilled people into the Irish labour market and encourages permanent residency in the State. This permit is only valid in relation to roles that are listed on the Highly Skilled Eligible Occupations List such as medicine, ICT, sciences, finance and now includes nurses, most construction occupations.  


General employment permit 
This is the most common employment permit used by the State to attract 3rd country nationals for occupations that are experiencing a labour / skills shortage. It allows for a broad range of occupations; however, some occupations are ineligible and will not qualify under this type of permit.


Dependant/partner/spouse employment permit 
This 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. 



  • All chef grades are now eligible for an employment permit and the occupation will no longer be restricted to quotas. Since March 2018, all chef grades with experience have been eligible for an employment permit except the Commis Chefs. A change has now been made to make all chef grades eligible. The occupation of chef will no longer be subject to a quota of 610 permits. In addition, the current cap of two chef permits per establishment is no longer applicable. 

  • All nurses can now qualify for a Critical Skills Employment Permit. The change will allow all nurses from outside the EEA to qualify for a Critical Skills Employment Permit – the most favourable type of work permit – which brings immediate family reunification, broad access to the Irish labour market for family members and a fast track to long term residency after 2 years. 

  • Labour demand in the construction sector has been greater than the supply due to the reduction of graduates as well as emigration. Most professional occupations in the construction sector can now qualify for a Critical Skills Employment Permit. Technician and construction support occupations, such as Foreman, Architectural Technician and Construction Safety Officer, can qualify for a General Employment Permit.  

If you have any specific concerns or questions, please contact Emma on 01 605 1668 or at or visit the advice section on our website 


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In this issue
SFA E-zine - The Tuesday Edition
SFA in the media
Changes to Employment Permit for non-EEA Employees
Information for Exporters
Results of the SFA Winter Business Sentiment Survey
Deloitte report on technological trends for 2020
Business Connect 2020
Webinar: Economic Outlook for 2020