New changes to the employment permits system for non-EEA employees

The Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation (DBEI) has introduced a number of changes to the employment permit system for non-EEA employees. These changes have been introduced to address the labour shortages in the construction, transportation and sports sectors.


The Department 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.


This is an evidence-based process that takes account of labour market conditions and submissions from sectors and other stakeholders which included input from the SFA who received input from the wider SFA membership. In addition, the DBEI considered background issues such as Brexit.  


The DBEI have updated the Critical Skills List of Occupations to include the following occupations to the list:

  • Civil engineers
  • Quantity surveyors
  • Construction project managers
  • Mechanical and electrical engineers with BIM capabilities
  • High Performance Directors and Coaches for high-level sports organisations 

This means that these additional occupations will qualify for a Critical Skills Employment permit as of 22 April 2019

The department have removed a number of occupations from the Ineligible List of Occupations. This means that the below occupations can now qualify for a General Employment Permit from 22 April 2019:

  • Sheet metal workers
  • Welding trades
  • Pipefitters
  • Air-Conditioning & Refrigeration Engineers       
  • Shuttering Carpenters
  • Glaziers, window fabricators & fitters
  • Scaffolders, stagers & riggers
  • Crane drivers
  • Career guidance teachers (secondary schools)

In addition, they have removed the additional occupations from the Ineligible List of Occupations by quota, which means they will qualify for a General Employment Permit up to the quota number detailed below:

  • Transport and Distribution Clerks and Assistants (Freight Forwarders; Cargo & Freight Agents; Brokerage Clerks) subject to a quota of 300,
  • Plasterers subject to a quota of 250
  • Bricklayers subject to a quota of 250

The nine types of employment permits 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 which you can view here. There is no need to conduct a labour market test for these employment permit types.


General employment permit

The general employment permit is the main type of employment permit that is used by the State to attract 3rd 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. A labour market test is required for this permit type.


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.


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 and 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.


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

Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Digg Yammer
In this issue
SFA E-zine - The Wednesday Edition
Recent press coverage
Brexit advice
New changes to the employment permits system for non-EEA employees
Majority of Irish small businesses keen to remain at current scale, study finds
SFA Smart Business Conference 2019
Business Bytes: Employment law seminar
Upcoming digital marketing masterclass on 9 May