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Changes To Employment Permit In Ireland

From 1st January 2020, there will be several changes that will be introduced to the salary thresholds for critical skills work permits as well as Labor Market Needs Test for contracts of Service Employment Permits and General Employment Permits. So, here are the changes to the salary requirements for the Critical Skills Permits:

So, generally, these permits are separated into two classes:

  1. Jobs on the Critical Skills Occupation List, where the salary is over 30000 euros per year and any applicants to this job group must have a third level degree or higher.
  2. Jobs that aren’t on the Critical Skills Occupation List or in the Ineligible Occupations List – in this job group, the annual salary is 60000 euros and above. Also, if the applicant is able to prove that they are experienced enough for the role, then it is not a must they have a third level degree.

Now, starting January 1st, 2020, the following changes will be applicable to the above salary thresholds:

  • For all jobs on the Critical Skills Occupations List, there will be an increment of 2000 euros, making it 32000 euros per year, up from the previous 30000.
  • For all the jobs in the second category, there will be an increment of 4000 euros, meaning that the annual salary will increase to 64000 euros, up from the previous 60000.

The applications made by 31st December 2019 will be accepted pursuant to the previous thresholds, while those made from 1st January will follow the new salary requirements, failure to which will lead to their disapproval. So, it is important that the employers budget accordingly for the above requirements, and especially if they are planning to hire non-EEA citizens requiring a Critical Skills Permit. Note: there will be no exceptions, these changes must be followed if you want to work in Ireland.

Employers should adhere to and be mindful of the above requirements, especially since it will add two more weeks to what already is a lengthy application process. And anybody who wants to apply on any of the above roles, just know that you will be subjected to the new requirements, but if you submitted your application on or before 31st December 2019, your application will be subjected to the previous requirements. One good thing that comes with all these is that advertising a job position with the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection Employment Services/EURES network is still free, which means that the additional time for advertising will not in any way increase the cost for the employers. Also, the local and national newspaper/job website advertising hasn’t changed, and so, the employers have to cater for the cost required to advertise through them.

General Employment Permits as well as contracts for services employment permits

Now, subject to a few limited exceptions, applications for these permits are subject to the Labor Markets Needs Test. What this means is that the employer is expected to advertise the position with the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection Employment Services or EURES network for a minimum period of two weeks. This should be done in a national newspaper for a period not less than three days and also in a job website or local newspaper for 3 days. What’s more, from January 1st, all employers must advertise the job position with the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection Employment Services/EURES network for a period not less than 4 weeks (28 days). Note: applications that were submitted on or before 31st December 2019 will be subjected to the previous 14-day advertisement period.

Further changes to the work permit system

On November 1st, 2019, Irish Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, after thorough consultations with the relevant agencies, published the general structure of the Employment Permits bill. This development was much welcomed, especially given that immigration practitioners had been eager to see it and wanted it published. The reason being, the previous employment permit system was quite inflexible, outdated and comprised a number of acts and schedules that proved to be extremely difficult to adhere to. But when the new bill was introduced, it hoped to amalgamate the previous legislation so as to be able to introduce the new changes to the permit system. Basically, the new employment permit system brings the following changes:

  • A seasonal employment permit was introduced to fill short term labor shortages in sectors such as farming, horticulture, and tourism.
  • A thorough revision of the Labor Market Needs Test.
  • A Special Circumstances Employment Permit was introduced.
  • Applications renewal as well as for Trusted Partner processes were streamlined.
  • Boosts the agility of the permit system by changing operational processes to regulation for easy modification.
  • In cases where the permit is not approved in prescribed circumstances, your fees are refunded.
  • The definition of remuneration and all the requirements with regards to it was simplified, especially given the fact that the previous level of complexity had proved to be difficult for users of the permit system.  

Other changes included the following:

  • All chef grades can now apply for a permit and the quota that was capping the number of permits awarded to chefs was scrapped off.
  • All nurses are now eligible to apply for a critical skills permit (there were some nurses who were unable to apply for this permit)
  • A majority of the professional jobs in the construction sector are now able to apply for a critical skills permit.
  • Occupations in the construction sector such as safety manager, architectural technician, foremen, construction safety officer, civil and structural engineers, and draught-persons are now eligible for a general employment permit.
  • HGV driver’s quota has now been increased by 200.
  • An introduction of the additional quota of 1000 general permits for the meat processors.


In general, these changes are highly welcomed by employees and employers, as they are expected to improve the employment permit system in Ireland, thereby increasing the benefits of economic migration to the country, which in turn boosts the economy.   

Looking for more advice on employment or work permits in Ireland? Book an initial consultation with our immigration solicitors.

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