Ireland is home to over 122,000 UK expats, resulting in Ireland having the third largest population of UK expats in Europe. On top of that, more than 40,000 people from around the world, emigrated to Ireland to live and work in in 2014, and the number continues to grow each year. 

Whether you’re looking to call Ireland your home and moving there with your family, a career individual looking to climb up the corporate ladder, or whether you’re a graduate hoping to spend a year or so in Ireland for some valuable experience, you’ll be please to find Ireland’s welcoming reputation is bolstered by an open and simple immigration process. 

Where are you moving from? 

If you’re looking to start a new life in Ireland from any of the EEA (European Economic Area) countries or Switzerland, then you’ve come up trumps! This means a visa is not required to move to Ireland. All you need to do, is get your affairs in order, pack your worldly possessions and get on a plane. It’s as easy as that.

Similarly, the same happens if you’re looking to move to Ireland from outside of the EU. If you’re looking to stay in the Emerald Isle for more than three months, the procedure is a lot easier compared to other countries. Having said that, a visa might be needed depending on your country of origin and you’ll certainly need a work permit.  

The visa allows you to enter the country, while an employment visa permit is separate and are handed out by two separate government departments. 

However, if you have a spouse/civil partner who is a citizen of a country within the EU, you might be able to avoid the visa/work permit process. However, you’ll want to be 100% sure on this, so our advice is to get in touch with the Department of Justice and Equality for further information on this. 

Work Permits in Ireland 

If you are a non-EEA national you will require an employment permit to be able to work in Ireland. You can find more details about who needs an employment permit in the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation. If you are a non-EEA national you might not require an employment permit because you have permission to remain for various reasons, including having an Irish/EEA national spouse or parent, being a student or for humanitarian reasons. 

Unlike other countries, the Irish immigration system is not points based. Instead they allow migrants with skills and experience that will benefit the Irish economy to easily obtain a work permit. 

You can apply for a work permit from the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation. Once you get your hands on a work permit and start working, then you will have exactly the same Irish employment rights as Irish citizens. 

Irish work permits can be applied for by either the employer and employee which needs to be based on an offer of employment. 

There are many types of work permits available, depending on what industry you are working in. So, before you apply for a work permit, it would be a good idea to look up which work permit you will need. There are critical skills employment permit, intra-company transfer employment permit, exchange agreement employment permit, partner/spouse permit, sport & cultural employment permit, etc., so you can see which one works best for your specific situation.  

If you happen to have qualifications from another country than Ireland, you should check if these are recognised. You can contact Quality and Qualifications Ireland which is free.

How to apply for a work permit 

Before you can apply for a work permit, you will first need to receive an official job offer from your new employer. Once you have the job offer, you can apply for the permit yourself, or your employer can apply for it for you. However, work permit applications from recruitment agencies are not accepted. Some employers in Ireland may also cover the cost of your work permit. If, for any reason your application gets rejected, then you’ll receive a 90% refund on your application fee. 

Work permit applications are made online, and usually the processing time is about eight weeks. If you would like more information for working in Ireland, particularly in Ireland’s thriving tech industry, techlifeireland is a useful guide to discover opportunities.

Becoming a permanent resident in Ireland  

If you have fallen hat over heels in love with Ireland and want to become a permanent resident, you can apply for residency after five years of legally living in the country. If you’re lucky enough to have a specific work permit such as a Critical Skills Employment Permit, then you can apply for residency after just two years of living in Ireland. Plus, once you have been granted full residency, you will never need to apply for any more work permits. 

Professions under this type of permit are very important to the growth of Ireland’s economy, are very demanded and highly skilled and are in short supply in the country. Professions such as IT, engineers and technologists are catered for under this employment permit. 

One thing you need to bear in mind is, that your time spent living legally in Ireland isn’t based on dates of your visa or work permits. It is based on when you register with immigration. This means that it is imperative you register as soon as you can, once you’ve arrived in the Emerald Isle, as delays could cause complications when applying for work permits and residency. For example, there could be a delay in the processing stage, where a decision maker considers the application and may request additional information, if required.

In Dublin for example, you can register yourself and your family at the Garda National Immigration Bureau. If you are outside of Dublin, then you can register at a local Garda District Headquarters. There is a €300 fee for each certificate of registration issued. 

Becoming a citizen in Ireland

After you’ve lived and worked in Ireland for five years, you might then be able to apply for citizenship. Once you become a citizen of Ireland, you will then be entitled to apply for an Irish passport as well as the right to vote in all Irish elections and this also makes you a citizen of the EU if you have moved to Ireland from outside the EU. If you would like to look into becoming an Irish citizen even further, you can find more information at the Citizens’ Information site

You can also hold a dual citizenship. While some countries won’t accept this, you should check with the relevant authorities.