Global Alerts

IRELAND – Significant New Changes in Employment Permit Legislation Ahead

The Department for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation (DJEI) has published the Employment Permits (Amendments) Bill which, when enacted, will introduce new Employment Permit categories and update some existing classifications.

What Are The Main Changes?

The new law will provide nine different purposes for which an employment permit may be granted, including the following new or updated categories:

  • A new Critical Skills Employment Permit to replace the existing Green Card;
  • A new employment permit for spouses and dependents of Critical Skills Employment Permit holders;
  • A new General Employment Permit for highly skilled occupations for contracts of less than two years;
  • A new Reactivation Employment Contract;
  • A new Exchange Agreement Employment Permit;
  • A Sports and Cultural Employment Permit; and
  • A new Internship Employment Permit.

Other existing categories of employment permit, such as the Contract for Services Permit and the Intra-Company Transfer Permit, may be reformed as well, but no details have yet been released. At this time, no information has been provided on the criteria, duration, eligibility, process or required documents for any of the categories. The new law is expected to be enacted by summer 2014, subject to parliamentary approval.

Critical Skills Employment Permit

This permit, meant to replace the existing Green Card, will address critical shortages of specific skills, to be identified in the Regulations. Created to attract individuals who possess critical skills, this permit type allows immediate family reunification and a fast track to residency. In addition, a number of the criteria normally applying to the issuance of an employment permit will be waived for this category.

Spouses, Civil Partners and Dependents Employment Permit

This permit is meant to enable the family members of holders of Critical Skills Employment Permits and Researchers, to work in Ireland. At the moment, only spouses of Green Card Holders and spouses of ICT permit holders whose permit was granted before 2009 are eligible for Spousal Permits.

General Employment Permit

This will be issued in cases where a contract for a designated highly skilled occupation has been offered for the duration of less than two years, or for other occupations, apart from those included on a list of ineligible jobs, where a number of other criteria have been met. At the moment, the only option for an employment permit which is required for less than two years for employees who hold an Irish employment contract is a Work Permit, even if they would otherwise fulfill Green Card criteria.

Reactivation Employment Contract

This would allow for the return of individuals to employment that had fallen out of the employment permits system through no fault of their own.

Internship Employment Permit

This would allow students of foreign institutions to work in Ireland, where it is a key component of the course which they are following.

Other Changes

The Bill also extends the existing requirement for a labor market needs test, with an exemption for Critical Skills Employment Permits.

The existing requirement for 50% of an enterprise’s employees to be Irish or EEA nationals where an employment permit is to be issued is also to be extended, with a waiver for enterprise start-ups for a designated, as-yet unspecified period.


The new legislation, along with other recent immigration reforms under the government’s Action Plan for Jobs, is aimed at increasing the number of skilled graduates available in Ireland, especially in Information and Communication Technology (ICT) occupations.

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