Work permits in Ireland: how to abide by the law and the penalties if you don’t

Thursday May 25, 2017

It is essential for overseas employees to have the appropriate work permit to work in Ireland. Failure to comply can result in the employer being jailed for ten years and receiving a €250,000 fine!

What is required will depend on the country a prospective employee is coming from. It can be a daunting area for employers to get to grips with. So The HR Dept has explored the ins and outs of these regulations to help guide you to the right course of action.

Let’s start with members of the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland. The EEA is an area of free trade and movement of people. It is comprised of the member states of the European Union as well as non-EU members including Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein.

As things stand, the official member states of the European Union are:

  • Austria,
  • Belgium,
  • Bulgaria,
  • Croatia,
  • Republic of Cyprus,
  • Czech Republic,
  • Denmark,
  • Estonia,
  • Finland,
  • France,
  • Germany,
  • Greece,
  • Hungary,
  • Ireland,
  • Italy,
  • Latvia,
  • Lithuania,
  • Luxembourg,
  • Malta,
  • Netherlands,
  • Poland,
  • Portugal,
  • Romania,
  • Slovakia,
  • Slovenia,
  • Spain,
  • Sweden,
  • The UK.

(Of course, although the UK currently is an EU member, it is uncertain how Brexit will affect the relationship between the UK, Ireland and the EEA.)

Passport holders of these countries do not need a visa or a Garda National Immigration Bureau (GNIB) card to work in Ireland. You should still ask to see the passport though.

Residents from other countries will need a visa to work in Ireland. This visa is placed on the passport which indicates that they are authorised to work in the country. They will also require a GNIB card

What is a GNIB card?

The GNIB carries out deportations, border control and investigations concerning illegal immigration.  All non-nationals who are not citizens of an EU member state, the EEA, or Switzerland, must register with An Garda Síochána. At all times the individual must have a valid registration certificate in the form of a GNIB Card. The stamps on the cards are broken down as follows:

Stamp 1
Individuals entitled to work. Employment is subject to the terms of the relevant valid employment permit.

Stamp 2
Students attending a recognised full-time course of at least one year. These individuals are permitted to work for 20 hours per week during term time, and 40 hours per week (full time) during holidays. Written proof of holiday time must be obtained from the educational establishment.

Stamp 2A
Students who are attending a course not recognised by the Department of Education and Science. These individuals are not permitted to work.

Stamp 3
Individuals who are not permitted to work. These include visitors, retired people of independent means, ministers of religion, members of religious orders, and spouses and dependants of employment permit holders.

Stamp 4
Individuals who are permitted to work without an employment permit or business permission. This stamp applies to spouses of Irish nationals, family members of EEA citizens, refugees and parents of an Irish citizen child who have been granted leave to remain.


What are green cards for in Ireland?

Green card permits are issued for occupations where a high-level strategic skills shortage exists. green cards are issued for a duration of two years. Therefore, an application for a green card is dependent on a job offer of two years or more.

These permits are issued to individual employers and are not transferable. The annual salary must be €60,000 or more.

Penalties for non-compliance with work permits

Any employer who hires an individual without right to work is guilty of an offence. They may be subject to a fine of up to € 250,000 and/or up to ten years in prison.  The employee is also liable to a fine of up to € 3,000 and/or up to 12 months in prison.

We understand that applying for a permit can be a daunting task. We hope this blog helps you choose the right permit for your employees.

For further help, please don’t hesitate to contact us for advice on employment permits or any employment related query.

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