What are the main work and business permit categories used by companies to transfer skilled staff?
The main type of employment permit used to transfer skilled staff to Ireland is the ICT permit, which facilitates the transfer of senior management, key personnel or trainees from an overseas company of a multinational corporation to a subsidiary or group company in Ireland.
For an individual who will be a local hire in Ireland, the general employment permit or the critical skills employment permit will be the most appropriate, depending on the qualifications of the applicant and the period of employment offered (the permit issued for these employment categories may be valid for up to two years initially).
The critical skills employment permit will be available for non-EEA nationals intending to work in Ireland in sectors where a shortage of skilled workers exists (the job category must be listed on the highly skilled occupations list). Where all the conditions for a critical skills employment permit are not met, a general employment permit might then be considered, as the eligibility criteria and the access to this employment category are slightly less restrictive. A general employment permit application can be submitted if the job category is not on the ineligible occupations list. A labour market test will be required for general employment permit applications, unless exempted.
Contract for services employment permits are available for individuals assigned to work at a client site in Ireland for at least 90 days, where the assignee will remain on home entity payroll and the overseas entity has a contract for services with the Irish entity. Unless the position is on the highly skilled occupation list or the salary is above €60,000, the position needs to be advertised before an application for a permit can be filed.Procedures
What are the procedures for obtaining these permissions? At what stage can work begin?
An application for an employment permit must be submitted to the DBEI. The application process consists of the following:
- completion of the appropriate online application form. The employee and the employer will normally be required to sign the application form (where the employer is registered as a Trusted Partner, only the employee is required to sign the application form) and upload it to the online system; and
- provision of supporting documents. If the original documentation is not in English, a certified translation must be submitted with the application.
Assuming the application is accepted and all documentation is in order, the DBEI will process the application and issue the original employment permit to the employee and issue a certified copy to the employer. Processing times vary depending on the volume of applications pending within the DBEI at any given time. Trusted Partner applications are prioritised.
An individual is not entitled to commence working in Ireland until the employment permit has been issued and the individual has obtained an employment visa, if applicable. The individual cannot commence working in Ireland prior to the start date stated on the employment permit.
Once the employment permit has been granted and the individual has entered Ireland, the permit holder must register at the Garda National Immigration Bureau (GNIB) or local registration office to obtain an Irish residence permit within the time frame noted in the stamp endorsed in the passport by the relevant authorities at the port of entry. This step is mandatory for compliance with immigration rules and failure to complete this process or to notify any change of address could lead to penalties and sanctions.Period of stay
What are the general maximum (and minimum) periods of stay granted under the main categories for company transfers?ICT
An ICT permit may be granted for an initial period of between three months and two years, with a possible extension for a further three years (maximum stay of five years). After a five-year period as an ICT permit holder, the individual must either leave Ireland or seek alternative immigration permission (eg, a critical skills employment permit or a general employment permit).Critical skills employment permit
Critical skills employment permits are issued for a period of two years. However, an Irish residence permit is generally only issued for a 12-month period and will need to be renewed annually (although upon discretion of authorities, the card might be issued for up to two years). After the initial two-year validity of the critical skills employment permit, the individual may be eligible to apply for a Stamp 4 immigration permission that will allow the individual to work in Ireland without the need to obtain a further employment permit. In order to obtain Stamp 4 immigration permission, a critical skills employment permit holder must first obtain authorisation from the DBEI that all conditions of the employment permit have been met before attending the GNIB to seek Stamp 4 permission.General employment permit
A general employment permit can be obtained for an initial period of from three months to two years and may be further extended up to a maximum period of five years. After this initial five-year period, the individual can seek permission to remain in Ireland without the requirement to hold a further employment permit.Residence permission
If a non-EEA national intends to spend more than 90 days in Ireland, he or she is required to obtain permission to reside legally in Ireland from the Minister for Justice and Equality. This must be done by attending at the local garda (police) station, if residing outside Dublin, or at the GNIB, if residing in Dublin and obtaining an Irish residence permit.Processing time
How long does it typically take to process the main categories?
The current processing time for employment permits is approximately four weeks for those filed under Trusted Partner status and 12 weeks for those filed under the standard route. Note that the processing times can vary depending on the time of year, staffing levels and holiday periods. The DBEI continues to strive to reduce processing times to three weeks for all employment permit applications.Staff benefits
Is it necessary to obtain any benefits or facilities for staff to secure a work permit?
It is not necessary to have any benefits or facilities in place to secure an employment permit.Assessment criteria
Do the immigration authorities follow objective criteria, or do they exercise discretion according to subjective criteria?
In Ireland, there are three different government departments with responsibility for immigration (DBEI, Department of Justice and Equality and Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade). The level of discretion afforded varies depending on the particular government department.
While the DBEI follows set procedures for processing employment permits, some flexibility may be allowed (eg, in the case of a start-up).High net worth individuals and investors
Is there a special route for high net worth individuals or investors?
There are two schemes in operation - the immigrant investor programme and the start-up entrepreneur programme - with the purpose of enabling non-EEA nationals and their families, who commit to an approved investment in Ireland, to acquire residency status.
Irish residence permission for successful applicants, and their dependent family members, will be granted initially for two years and may subsequently be renewed for a further three years subject to the applicant continuing to meet the conditions of the relevant scheme. The programmes also facilitate a pathway to long-term residence for successful applicants following the initial five years of residence in Ireland.
Key conditions of both programmes are outlined below and the qualifying criteria have been relaxed to attract more key investors to Ireland.The immigrant investor programme
This is intended for successful business people wishing to invest in and relocate to Ireland. Their investment choices are:
- €500,000 philanthropic endowment to a public project;
- €1 million investment into a new or existing Irish business (or spread over several existing businesses) for three years;
- €2 million investment in an Irish real estate investment trust that is listed on the Irish Stock Exchange; or
- €1 million minimum investment in an approved fund that will invest in Irish business and projects.
This is intended for entrepreneurs with business proposals for a high potential start-up in the innovation economy. The entrepreneur must:
- have at least €50,000 in financial backing for the initial founder. This is reduced to €30,000 for any subsequent founder (from one or a combination of his or her own resources, a business loan, business angel or venture capital funding);
- have a robust, detailed and innovative business proposal; and
- not be a drain on public funds.
Is there a special route (including fast track) for high net worth individuals for a residence permission route into your jurisdiction?
No.Highly skilled individuals
Is there a special route for highly skilled individuals?
The critical skills employment permit is typically granted to non-EEA nationals intending to work in Ireland in sectors where a shortage of skilled workers exists. A minimum salary requirement of €60,000 gross per annum (excluding allowances) on local payroll must be met, unless the position is listed as strategically important on the highly skilled occupations list, in which case the minimum salary threshold is reduced to €30,000. The salary thresholds will increase in January 2020.Ancestry and descent
Is there a special route for foreign nationals based on ancestry or descent?
No; however, individuals of Irish descent or Irish associations may be eligible for Irish citizenship.Minimum salary
Is there a minimum salary requirement for the main categories for company transfers?
There is a minimum salary requirement of €40,000 for an ICT permit and a contract for services employment permit. For ICT training permit purposes, the minimum annual remuneration is reduced to €30,000. The minimum salary requirement for a general employment permit is €30,000 per annum. For critical skills employment permits, a minimum salary requirement of €60,000 applies, except for positions on the highly skilled occupations list, for which a minimum annual salary of €30,000 must be met. The salary thresholds will increase to €64,000 and €32,000, respectively, from January 2020.Resident labour market test
Is there a quota system or resident labour market test?
Ireland does not operate an employment permit quota system with the exception of some occupations for which an annual quota has been introduced (certain chefs, horticultural workers, meat processing operatives and farm assistants). However, Irish employers seeking general employment permits or contract for services employment permits for non-EEA nationals are required to advertise the position with the Department of Social Protection Employment Services and the European Employment Services Network employment networks for a minimum period of two weeks and in a national newspaper and either a local newspaper or jobs website for three days, unless exempted. This is to ensure that the vacancy has been advertised in the local and wider EEA labour market and that, in the first instance, a national of the EU or Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein or Switzerland cannot be found to fill the vacancy. Evidence that this has been done must be included with the employment permit application and the advertisements must include all information as set out in the regulations. The advertising period is set to increase to 28 days (from the current 14 days) from January 2020.
There is no advertising requirement for a critical skills employment permit or ICT employment permit application.
For all employment permits, the ratio of EEA nationals employed must be maintained at a minimum of 50 per cent of the total workforce although exceptions might be recognised in some cases, such as for start-up companies and employers with a sole employee.Shortage occupations
Is there a special route for shortage occupations?
A critical skills employment permit can be applied for in respect of occupations included on the DBEI’s Highly Skilled Eligible Occupations List. A reduced salary threshold of €30,000 (increasing to €32,000 from January 2020) applies to these occupations for which there is deemed to be insufficiently skilled resources within the EEA to meet the skills shortages.Other eligibility requirements
Are there any other main eligibility requirements to qualify for work permission in your jurisdiction?
In order to be eligible for an ICT permit, the individual must have been employed by the overseas sending organisation for a minimum period of six months prior to being assigned to Ireland (reduced to one month for trainees).
In the case of an application for a contract for services employment permit, the individual must have been employed by the sending organisation for a minimum period of six months immediately preceding the employment permit application.Third-party contractors
What is the process for third-party contractors to obtain work permission?
The contract for services employment permit is designed for situations where a foreign undertaking (contractor) has a contract to provide services to an Irish entity on a contract for services basis and facilitates the transfer of non-EEA employees to work on the contract in Ireland.
The contract involved must be a one-to-one contract with an Irish entity - documentary evidence of this contract may be requested. Employment permits will not be considered in instances where work is being subcontracted to a third party. Permits can only be considered for the term of the contract. Applications may be granted for a maximum period of up to 24 months in the first instance and may be extended upon application to a maximum stay of five years.
Where an employee is required to work in Ireland for between 15 and 90 days under a contract for services arrangement, the atypical working scheme applies (see question 39).Recognition of foreign qualifications
Is an equivalency assessment or recognition of skills and qualifications required to obtain immigration permission?
The foreign national concerned must possess the relevant qualifications, skills or experience required for the particular role or job.
For critical skills employment permit applications where the salary level is between €30,000 to €60,000 the individual must possess a minimum degree level qualification relevant to the role. Critical skills employment permit applications on behalf of accountants must be accompanied by evidence that the relevant qualification is recognised by the appropriate body in Ireland. Similarly, evidence of registration or recognition by the relevant body must be provided in the case of lawyers and architects wishing to practice in Ireland.