Ireland: Labour Regulation
Nationals of European Union member states have free right of movement in Ireland. Nationals of other states wishing to work in Ireland require a work permit from the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment. The Department is obliged to issue permits when the employee has a key role, or is transferring from an international company which has or intends to have a presence in Ireland. However, the rules have recently been relaxed for certain classes of foreign national, including inter-corporate transferees, the spouses of EU nationals, and non-EU nationals who have had a child born in Ireland. In these cases letters from the employee's foreign employer, and the prospective Irish employer are now sufficient to immigrate for one year. However it is advised to check the current situation before attempting to immigrate.
Furthermore, the Republic has been held up, alongside Sweden and the United Kingdom, as an example to 'older' EU member states which have not yet opened their labour markets to workers from their 'newer' - mainly Eastern European - counterparts, of how an influx of new workers can be both manageable and beneficial.
New economic migration and employment permit arrangements for workers outside of the European Economic Area came into effect in Ireland from February 1, 2007.
The four categories of permits that have been introduced include: the Green Card Scheme; the Work Permit; the Intra Company Transfer Permit; and Spousal and Dependant Permits. The Employment Permits Act passed by the Oireachtas last year, together with the Employment Permits Act 2003, provide the statutory basis for the new schemes.
The Green Card scheme, introduced for the first time in Ireland, is aimed at occupations where the country has "strategically important high level skills shortages," such as in the Information and Communications Technology, Health Care, Construction, Engineering, Financial Services and Research sectors. The scheme is available for an extensive list of occupations with annual salaries of EUR60,000 (US$77,630) and above, and for a specified list of occupations with salaries between EUR30,000 and EUR60,000.
No labour market test is required for the Green Card applications, so advertising with FAS/EURES and newspapers is not necessary. Green Cards are issued for two years initially and normally lead to the granting of permanent or long-term residence after that. Green Card holders are also permitted to bring their spouses and families to join them immediately. The Green Card Scheme replaces the previous Work Visa/Work Authorisation scheme, which has been discontinued.
The new Work Permit is mainly for non-Green Card occupations in the EUR30,000 to EUR60,000 annual salary range. It is only granted in exceptional circumstances for occupations with salaries below EUR30,000. In order to establish that vacancies which are the subject of Work Permit applications cannot be filled by Irish or other European nationals, as required by our EU `Community preference’ obligations, they are the subject of a "rigorous" labour market needs test. This test includes both advertising with FAS and the European Employment Services, or EURES, and in local and national newspapers. Work permits are granted initially for a period of 2 years, and then for a further period of up to 3 years.