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Complete guide to obtaining a critical skills work permit in Ireland, requirements, the application procedure, and FAQs

If you are a foreign national who is not from the EU, EEA, or Switzerland and you want to come work in Ireland, you will have to obtain an Ireland employment permit. Employment permits for Ireland are issued by the Irish Department of Business, Enterprise, and Innovation (DBEI).

Most Irish employment permits are subject to certain rules, such as proving that there was no EU/EEA national who was suited for the job.

However, Ireland is seeking to fill a skills shortage in its labor market, which is where the Critical Skills Employment Permit comes in.

The occupations which are eligible for the Critical Skills permit are considered to be highly beneficial to Ireland’s economy and growth. As such, this employment permit is issued to foreign nationals who are highly skilled, and who can fill the gap in the labor market, therefore contribute to the development of Irish economy.

Because these occupations are in shortage, Irish employers can hire foreign highly-skilled workers without the need to pass a Labour Market Needs Test – ie. prove that they could not find a suitable EU/EEA candidate for the job.

In addition, depending on your nationality, you may also need an Ireland work visa (long stay “D” visa) to be allowed to travel to Ireland in the first place. You can only apply for a work visa for Ireland if you have received an employment permit from DBEI.

Critical Skills Employment Permit eligibility

In order to be eligible for the Critical Skills Employment Permit, your occupation has to be included in the “Highly Skilled Eligible Occupations List”, which the DBEI has released.

According to the DBEI, you are eligible for the Critical Skills Employment permit, if you are a highly-skilled professional in the following fields/occupations:

  • Natural and Social Science (chemists, biologists, biochemists, physicists, and medical laboratory scientists)
  • Engineering
  • Information and communications technology (ICT)
  • Health (Medical practitioners, pharmacists, etc)
  • Health and Social Services (Managers and Directors)
  • Nursing and Midwifery
  • Orthoptics
  • Health Associate (prosthetists, orthotists)
  • Teaching and Education (Academics with the equivalent of a NFQ level 10 (Doctoral degree))
  • Business, Research and Administration
  • Architecture (Town Planners and Surveyors)
  • Quality and Regulatory
  • Media (Art Director in 2D or 3D animation)
  • Artistic, Literary and Media
  • Design
  • Sports and Fitness
  • Sales, Marketing and Related Associate

(Information obtained from:

In addition, the DBEI will also look at the following factors to decide whether you meet the eligibility criteria for the Critical Skills Ireland Employment Permit:

  • Your salary. There are two categories when it comes to the minimum annual salary you are expected to have:
    • €32,000 per year for occupations included on DBEI’s “Highly Skilled Eligible Occupations List”
    • €64,000 for all other occupations, unless they are considered ineligible by the DBEI.
  • The duration of your job offer/work contract. You need to secure a job offer for a minimum of two years duration.
  • Whether you have the adequate and relevant qualifications, skills and experience.
  • The number of EU/EEA nationals working in your employer’s company at the time of application. At least 50% of the company’s employers have to be EU/EEA citizens when they hire you.

In addition, after you receive your Critical Skills Employment Permit, you have to stay with your employer for at least 12 months. Afterward, you are allowed to change employers.

Critical Skills Employment Permit Requirements

When applying for a critical skills Ireland employment permit, you must attach several documents to the online application system. These include:

  • A copy of your passport, which shows your picture, signature, and personal details.
  • Passport-size picture in line with Ireland photo requirements.
  • A copy of the work contract signed by you and the employer.
  • If you are a resident in Ireland at the time of application, a copy of your current immigration stamp.
  • Details of a contact person: name, position in company, phone number and email address.
  • Relevant Registration/Pin or License number of the company issued by the appropriate Irish Regulatory bodies or Government Ministers.
  • Copy of the letter of support by IDA/Enterprise Ireland, if applicable.
  • Details of any previous visas you have received/been rejected, if applicable.
  • Details of your employer:
    • Registered and trading name of their company/business.
    • Details on the type and nature of their company/business.
    • Details on the number of their employers (both EU/EEA/Swiss nationals and non-EU/EEA/Swiss nationals).
    • Registration number of the employer and the company name and address.
  • Details of your employment:
    • Your title, duties and responsibilities.
    • The location of your employment.
    • Duration of your employment.
    • The qualifications/skills/knowledge and experience you have, and the ones required for the job.
    • Complete details of your salary (the annual salary, the weekly/hourly rates, any deductions).

How to apply for a Critical Skills Employment Permit?

You have to apply for a Critical Skills Employment Permit online, via EPOS, the Employment Permits Online System. You can submit the application yourself, or your employer can submit it on your behalf.

After you access EPOS, you will have to select the appropriate application form, which changes depending on the specific Irish Employment Permit and who is applying (the employer or the employee).

Then, you have to provide your personal details and will receive a number which allows you save drafts of the application form, and log back in later to complete it. However, once you start the online Employment Permit application, you have to complete it within 28 days, including attaching all the documents and paying the relevant fee.

Critical Skills Employment Visa

Depending on your nationality, if you want to travel to Ireland, for any purpose, you may have to apply for an Ireland visa. The type of visa you have to apply for is a work visa, which is a type of Ireland long stay (D) visa.

The Ireland long stay work visa allows the holder to travel to Ireland with the purpose of working in Ireland longer than 90 days. However, it should be noted that the Ireland visa (whether long stay or short stay) is simply a pre-entry requirement, and does not guarantee you will be allowed to enter the country.

If you are not from the EU/EEA or Switzerland, then you will have to ask for permission to enter the country from immigration officers at Ireland Border Control. All non-EU/EEA/Swiss nationals have to go through Border Control and ask for permission to enter regardless of whether they need a visa or not.

Click here to see who needs an Ireland visa.

Work visa pplication process

If you are from a visa-required country, you have to apply for an Ireland visa online. You can only apply for the visa after you have received your Employment Permit from the DBEI.

That’s because you will have to attach your employment permit along with your other required documents.

After applying online, you have to print a summary of the application form and submit it along with the required documents for renewal by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS). You will see the address where you can send your documents after you submit the online application form.

After receiving the visa and travelling to Ireland, if the immigration officers give you permission to enter the country, they will give you a stamp on your passport. The stamp shows the number of days you are allowed to stay in Ireland.

Before those days are up, you will have to register with the Irish Garda National Immigration Bureau and receive a residence permit.

Getting a residence permit

The Ireland employment permit and work visa are not enough to allow you to stay in Ireland long-term. You will have to get an Ireland residence permit.

In order to get a residence permit, you have to register with the Garda National Immigration Bureau (GNIB) upon arrival to Ireland.

After living in Ireland with a residence permit for five years, you can apply for Irish permanent residence.

Duration and renewal of the Critical Skills Employment Permit

An Ireland Critical Skills Employment Permit is issued for two years. However, unlike with other types of Irish Employment Permits, once the Critical Skills Permit expires, you do not have to renew it.

Instead, you have to apply for a letter of support from the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation. Once you receive the letter of support, you can renew your residence permit registration at the Garda National Immigration Bureau. When you appear at the GNIB for registration renewal, you need to have your letter of support, your current Critical Skills Employment Permit, and your current residence permit.

You will then receive a Stamp 4 on your passport. The Stamp 4 is a residence permission that allows you to live and work in Ireland without the need to have an employment permit. You can renew your Stamp 4 permission every two years, up until you are eligible to apply for permanent residence.

Family members of Critical Skills Employment Permit holders

Once you are in Ireland with a Critical Skills Employment Permit, you can apply for family reunification at the INIS and bring your family (spouse/partner and dependent children) with you.

Your family members can then apply for a Dependant/Partner/Spouse Employment Permit, which allows them to work in any occupation in Ireland. The Dependant/Partner/Spouse Employment Permit is issued free of charge.

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