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Business immigration in Ireland

Regulatory framework and trends

Trends and developments

Have there been any notable recent trends or developments regarding business-related immigration in your jurisdiction, including any government policy initiatives?

The most notable recent trends and developments regarding business-related immigration in Ireland concern the relaxation of certain employment permit policies. As of March 26 2018:

  • certain chef-grade jobs will no longer be on the Ineligible Categories of Employment for Employment Permits List (a list of jobs that are ineligible for employment permits, except in exceptional circumstances), although a limit of two employment permits per establishment and an overall quota of 610 employment permits will apply;
  • certain animation industry roles have been added to the Highly Skilled Occupations List (a list of strategically important occupations); and
  • the Ineligible Categories of Employment for Employment Permits List no longer applies to Intra-Company Transfer Employment Permits.

To put these changes into context, Ireland’s broad employment permit policy is to source labour and skills needs from the European Economic Area (EEA). However, the government acknowledges that migration is required to help fill Ireland’s skills gaps where specific skills prove difficult to source from within the European Economic Area, particularly as Ireland is now approaching full employment.

Another significant change is that a copy of an applicant’s signed employment contract must now be submitted with all new and renewal employment permit applications.

Domestic law

What legislation and regulations govern immigration in your jurisdiction?

The Employment Permit Acts 2003, 2006 and 2014 and the Employment Permit Regulations 2017 and 2018 govern in terms of employment permits. The most relevant legislation regarding visas, business visas and entry into Ireland includes the Aliens Act 1935, the Immigration Acts 2003 and 2004 and the various regulations made thereunder.

International agreements

Has your jurisdiction concluded any international agreements affecting immigration (eg, free trade agreements or free movement accords)?

The main international agreements affecting Irish immigration include:

  • existing EU legislation;
  • the Common Travel Area;
  • entry visa waiver arrangements with a number of countries; and
  • various working holiday agreements for young people.

Regulatory authorities

Which government authorities regulate immigration and what is the extent of their enforcement powers?

The Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation regulates employment permits and the minister for business, enterprise and innovation has enforcement powers under the relevant legislation. The minister’s enforcement powers include the power to prosecute offences under legislation relating to:

  • the forgery, fraudulent alteration or fraudulent use of an employment permit;
  • the misuse of an employment permit;
  • the employment of a non-EEA national without a work permit;
  • the deduction of fees or expenses from an employment permit holder’s remuneration;
  • the retention of an employment permit holder’s personal documentation;
  • the failure to surrender an employment permit to the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation within four weeks of the cessation of an employment permit holder’s employment;
  • the provision of misleading information in relation to an employment permit application; and
  • the failure to retain certain records.

The Department of Justice and Equality – in particular, the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service – is responsible for administering the functions of the minister for justice and equality in relation to immigration, citizenship and visa services. The minster’s enforcement powers include the power to:

  • prosecute offences under legislation relating to the liability of carriers and failure by non-nationals to register in Ireland; and
  • refuse non-nationals permission to enter Ireland and remove them from Ireland.

Can the decisions of these authorities be appealed?

Under the Employment Permits Acts 2003, 2006 and 2014, reviews can be sought of certain decisions, in particular decisions that revoke employment permits or fail to grant an employment permit application. In terms of decisions made by the minister for justice and equality, there is provision under the relevant legislation to appeal certain decisions (eg, a refusal to grant a visa application). It may also be possible to judicially review certain decisions, although a person must generally exhaust all administrative remedies before instituting any such proceedings.

Recent case law

Has there been any notable recent case law regarding immigration?

In February 2018 the Supreme Court declared that the International Protection Act 2015, which replaced the Refugee Act 1996, was unconstitutional. As a result, the absolute restriction on asylum seekers working in Ireland is no longer part of Irish law. In coming to this decision, the Supreme Court found that the right to work is “connected to the dignity and freedom” of an individual and could not be “withheld absolutely” from non-citizens. The Supreme Court held that the state could restrict asylum seekers from entering employment. However, where there is no maximum time limit in Ireland for an application for refugee status to be processed, the court found that this could amount to an absolute prohibition on employment. As matters stand, Ireland is due to adopt the EU (Recast) Reception Conditions Directive (2013/33/EU), which will provide asylum seekers in Ireland with the right to work in certain circumstances, although these may prove to be quite restrictive. In the meantime, interim measures have been adopted to provide asylum seekers with access to the Irish labour market.

Business visitors

Visa requirements

In what circumstances is a visa required for business visitors?

Certain non-European Economic Area (EEA) nationals require a pre-entry visa. This is the case for all types of Irish pre-entry visa, including business visas. Non-EEA nationals will need an Irish business visa if they are coming to Ireland:

  • for up to 90 days for activities relating to their work, including attending business meetings or negotiating or signing agreements or contracts; or
  • to work for 14 days or less.

It is recommended that non-EEA nationals who are coming to Ireland for business and do not need a pre-entry visa still carry proof of the business activities that they will be undertaking in Ireland.

Restrictions

What restrictions are imposed on business visitors in terms of the work that they may undertake and their period of stay in your jurisdiction?

A business visitor with a pre-entry visa can carry out activities relating to his or her job, including attending business meetings, negotiating or signing agreements or working for 14 days or less. If such a visa holder works for 14 days or less, he or she:

  • must be in Ireland for a 14-day period only;
  • must request permission to work when arriving at Irish Immigration Control; and
  • cannot work (paid or unpaid) for more than 15 days or rely on Irish public services.

A pre-entry visa allows the holder to travel to Ireland. However, an Irish immigration officer can refuse entry at Immigration Control even if the holder has a pre-entry visa. A business visa holder or a non-EEA national who does not need a business visa can stay in Ireland for up to 90 days.

Application and entry

How are business visitor visas obtained and what is the typical turnaround time?

A non-EEA national who requires a business visa to travel to Ireland must submit an online application. The application must be printed and submitted with specified supporting documentation to the nearest Irish embassy for processing. The turnaround time for visa processing depends on the processing time at the embassy in question. The Department of Justice and Equality recommends that business visa applications (and all other visa applications) be submitted eight weeks before travelling; however, visa processing is generally quicker than this.

Are any visa waiver or fast-track entry programmes available?

As regards visa waivers, certain non-EEA nationals require a pre-entry visa. This is the case for all types of Irish pre-entry visa, including business visas. In addition, two visa-waiver schemes exist between the United Kingdom and Ireland (ie, the Short Stay Visa Waiver Programme and the British and Irish Visa Scheme).

Under the Short Stay Visa Waiver Programme, a non-EEA national who ordinarily requires an Irish pre-entry visa may not need one if:

  • he or she is visiting Ireland for 90 days or less;
  • he or she holds a UK short stay visa (excluding certain specific types);
  • he or she is a national of a specified list of 18 countries; and
  • his or her visit to Ireland will end before their UK leave to remain ends.

The programme is non-reciprocal, so holders of Irish pre-entry visas cannot travel to the United Kingdom under the same terms.

The UK and Irish Visa Scheme is a reciprocal arrangement whereby each jurisdiction recognises short-stay visas issued by the other for travel to their jurisdiction. The relevant visa holder can travel freely from the country of first arrival (eg, the United Kingdom) to Ireland (including Northern Ireland) and back for the duration of their visa. The scheme only applies only to Chinese nationals who are living in China and to Indian nationals who are living in India.

Ireland has no fast-track visa entry programmes at present.

Short-term training

What rules and procedures apply for visitors seeking to undertake short-term training in your jurisdiction?

Certain non-EEA nationals require a pre-entry visa. Non-EEA nationals that require a visa can apply for a short stay C Training Visa, which will enable them to travel to Ireland to attend a professional development training course for up to 90 days. Non-EEA nationals who do not require a pre-entry visa should have the required documentation for inspection by Immigration Control on arrival in Ireland to support the fact that they will be engaged in short-term training.

Transit

In what circumstances is a transit visa required to pass through your jurisdiction? How is it obtained?

Certain non-EEA nationals need an Irish transit visa when transiting in Ireland before travelling to another jurisdiction. An Irish transit visa permits the holder to enter Ireland for transit purposes only. The holder cannot leave the relevant port and must have a relevant visa (if required) for the country to which they are travelling. The application for an Irish transit visa is made online and submitted to the nearest Irish embassy for processing with the required supporting documentation. The Department of Justice and Equality recommends that transit visa applications (and all other Irish visa applications) be submitted eight weeks before travelling; however, in practice, applications are processed more quickly.

Sponsored immigration

New hires

What sponsored visas or work permits are available to employers seeking to hire foreign nationals in your jurisdiction? What are the eligibility criteria, application procedures and maximum period of stay for each?

Newly hired non-European Economic Area (EEA) nationals are primarily employed in Ireland through the employment permit process. The two main types of employment permit in this regard are the Critical Skills Employment Permit and the General Employment Permit. There is an online application process for employment permits for which the applicant must submit certain prescribed information and documentation. Such permits will not be granted to companies unless:

  • 50% or more of their employees are EEA nationals (although there are some limited exceptions to this); or
  • the role in question is on the Ineligible Categories of Employment for Employment Permits List (ie, a list of roles that are ineligible for employment permits, except in certain exceptional circumstances).

Each employment permit category has its own specific criteria.

The Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation describes the Critical Skills Employment Permit as being “designed to attract highly skilled people into the labour market with the aim of encouraging them to take up permanent residence in the State”. To be eligible for this permit, the applicant must:

  • be applying for a job that offers a minimum salary of €60,000 and, in this instance, they must have a relevant degree or specific experience;
  • where the salary is between €30,000 and €59,999, be applying for a job listed on the Highly Skilled Eligible Occupations List (ie, a list of strategically important occupations) and, in this instance, they must have a relevant degree qualification or higher. The applicant must possess relevant qualifications, skills and experience and a two-year job offer from a bona fide employer.

The employer is not required to undertake the usual labour markets needs test. Critical Skills Employment Permits last for two years, after which, the holder can apply for a particular immigration stamp which, if granted, means that they will no longer need an employment permit, subject to having complied with the conditions of his or her previous immigration and employment permit and being of good character.

The eligibility criteria for a General Employment Permit are:

  • a job offer from a bona fide employer;
  • a job that offers a minimum salary of €30,000 (apart from a limited number of exceptions); and
  • a labour market needs test (apart from a limited number of exceptions).

The applicant must also possess the relevant qualifications, skills and experience for the job on offer. The maximum initial duration for a General Employment Permit is two years; however, after that two-year period it can be renewed for a further three years.

A Critical Skills Employment Permit or General Employment Permit provides the holder permission to work. Certain non-EEA nationals will also need a pre-entry visa. A non-EEA national who requires a pre-entry visa must first apply for an employment permit. Once this has been issued, he or she can then apply for a pre-entry visa.

Intra-company transfers

What sponsored visas or work permits are available to multinational employers seeking to transfer foreign employees to your jurisdiction? What are the eligibility criteria, application procedures and maximum period of stay for each?

Multinational employers seeking to transfer foreign employees to Ireland can use the Intra-Company Transfer Employment Permit or apply for an Atypical Permission.

The Intra-Company Transfer Employment Permit facilitates the transfer of employees from an overseas branch of a multinational to its Irish branch for an accrued period of up to five years. In terms of eligibility, an applicant must:

  • be key personnel, senior management or personnel undergoing a training programme and earning a minimum of €30,000;
  • have worked for the foreign employer for a minimum of six months if key personnel or senior management or 12 months if personnel undergoing a training programme; and
  • earn a minimum base salary of €40,000 if key personnel or senior management or €30,000 if personnel undergoing a training programme.

In addition, there must be a link between the foreign employer and the Irish entity. The maximum period of stay under an Intra-Company Transfer Employment Permit is two years initially, after which the permit can be renewed for a further three years. From March 26 2018 the Ineligible Categories of Employment for Employment Permits List no longer applies to Intra-Company Transfer Employment Permit applications. This means that it is now possible to apply for an Intra-Company Transfer Employment Permit even where the relevant job is on the above list.

Where an employer wishes to employ a non-EEA national in Ireland for a maximum of 90 days, it may be able to apply for an Atypical Permission, which relates to short-term employment or other employment situations not covered by employment permits legislation.

An Intra-Company Transfer Employment Permit or Atypical Permission grants the holder permission to work. Certain non-EEA nationals will also require a pre-entry visa. A non-EEA national who requires a pre-entry visa must first apply for an employment permit. Once this has been issued, the applicant can apply for a pre-entry visa.

Do any special rules govern secondments?

Where a foreign company wishes to send a non-EEA national on a secondment and the company to which the employee is being seconded is a connected company, the employee may be in a position to apply for an Intra-Company Transfer Employment Permit if the secondment is for more than 90 days. Where the secondment is for 90 days or less, the foreign company may be in a position to apply for an Atypical Permission. There are no special rules for secondments except and to the extent that the applicant must be in a position to satisfy the usual criteria relevant employment permit.

Sponsor requirements and considerations

What are the eligibility and procedural requirements for employers to sponsor foreign employees?

To be eligible to sponsor a non-EEA national for an employment permit, an employer must be registered with the Irish Revenue Commissioners and the Companies Registration Office or Registry of Friendly Societies (if applicable) and must be trading in Ireland. At least 50% of the employer’s workforce must be EEA nationals at the time of the application, unless one of the limited exceptions applies. A labour market needs test will apply in most cases, except where:

  • the job is listed on the Highly Skilled Eligible Occupations List;
  • the job is an eligible occupation with a minimum annual remuneration of €60,000;
  • there is a recommendation from Enterprise Ireland or the Industrial Development Authority;
  • the job offer is for the carer of a person with exceptional medical needs for whom the applicant has been caring before the application was made; or
  • the job offer relates to a non-EEA national who previously held a General Employment Permit or a Work Permit Employment Permit and was made redundant in the previous six months.

What ongoing reporting and record-keeping requirements apply to sponsors?

The most significant ongoing reporting and record-keeping requirements that apply to employers that employ non-EEA nationals with employment permits are:

  • an obligation to surrender an employment permit to the relevant department within four weeks of the non-EEA national’s cessation of employment; and
  • an obligation to retain certain records in respect of said non-EEA national concerning their employment (eg, books and records, including accounts), as may be prescribed.

In what circumstances (if any) must the employer submit to resident labour market testing before hiring or transferring foreign employees? Do any exemptions apply?

A labour market needs test is required for most employment permit applications. This requirement reflects government policy that:

  • jobs should be offered to suitably skilled EEA nationals first; and
  • employment permit applications should be accepted only where an employer can show that it has been unable to recruit an EEA national.

A labour market needs test will not be required where:

  • the relevant job is listed on the Highly Skilled Eligible Occupations List;
  • the job offer concerns an eligible occupation with a minimum annual remuneration of €60,000;
  • there is a recommendation from Enterprise Ireland or the Industrial Development Authority;
  • the job offer is for the carer of a person with exceptional medical needs for whom the applicant has been caring before the application was made; or
  • the job offer concerns a non-EEA national who previously held a General Employment Permit or a Work Permit Employment Permit and has been made redundant in the previous six months.

Are there any annual quota limits or restrictions on certain positions that can be filled by foreign nationals?

The Irish employment permit system has certain quota limits to include the recently introduced quota concerning the employment of certain categories of foreign chef and the existing quotas relating to meat boners and heavy goods vehicle drivers. In addition, there are restrictions on certain positions that can be filled by non-EEA nationals. Non-EEA nationals cannot apply for an employment permit (except in limited circumstances and in respect of information and communications technology employment permits) for jobs on the Ineligible Categories of Employment for Employment Permits List. This list is reviewed on an ongoing basis to ensure that it is fit for purpose.

There are also restrictions on employment permits for non-EEA nationals concerning certain designated professional positions for which the applicant must be registered with, or have their qualifications recognised by, a specified Irish regulatory body.

Are there any immigration exemptions or other special schemes for shortage occupations in your jurisdiction?

There is an immigration exemption for shortage occupations. The Highly Skilled Eligible Occupations List includes jobs required for the proper functioning of the Irish economy for which there is a qualifications, experience or skills shortage. This list is reviewed on an ongoing basis and changes as and when skills shortages are identified.

At present, the list contains specific jobs in the following sectors:

  • animation;
  • natural and social sciences;
  • engineering;
  • information and communications technology;
  • health and social services;
  • nursing and midwifery;
  • therapy;
  • teaching and education;
  • business;
  • research and administration;
  • quality and regulation; and
  • sales and marketing.

The main advantage of jobs being on this list is that the labour market needs test does not apply (ie, the job does not need to be advertised in order for an employment permit to be submitted).

How long does it typically take to obtain a sponsored visa? Is expedited visa processing available?

Non-EEA nationals need an employment permit to be legally employed in Ireland (unless they hold another type of immigration permit). They may also need a pre-entry visa if they are a national of a country that requires a visa to travel to Ireland.

An application for an employment permit generally takes between six to seven weeks; however, processing times depend on the number of permit applications that the relevant department has to process at that time. In addition, processing times tend to slow down around holiday periods (eg, in the summer months and around Christmas).

A company can apply for trusted partner status, which, if granted, streamlines the employment permit application process by reducing paperwork and providing faster processing times. Trusted partner status is primarily aimed at high-volume employment permit applicants. At present, trusted partner status applications take approximately three weeks to process (as opposed to six to seven weeks for standard applications).

Some non-EEA nationals require pre-entry visas (in addition to an employment permit). This is the case for all types of pre-entry visa, including employment visas. A non-EEA national who requires a pre-entry visa will need an employment visa if they are coming to Ireland to take up an employment permit. The turnaround time for visa processing depends on the processing time at the relevant Irish embassy. The Department of Justice and Equality recommends that Irish visa applications be submitted eight weeks before travel; however, in practice, visas are processed more quickly.

What rules govern the hiring of foreign third-party contractors?

Foreign third-party contractors may be able to apply for a Contract for Services Employment Permit where they are providing services to an Irish entity. The general criteria are as follows:

  • The foreign employer must have a direct contract with the Irish entity.
  • The employment permit will be granted only for the duration of the contract.
  • The employee must have been employed by the foreign employer for a minimum period of six months before the transfer.
  • The foreign employer must be registered with the Irish Revenue Commissioners as an employer and may need to register with the Irish Companies Registration Office.
  • The 50/50 rule applies in terms of there being an equivalent number of EEA and non-EEA nationals.
  • A labour market needs test may apply.

What are the penalties for sponsor non-compliance with the relevant immigration laws and regulations?

There are a number of offences under the Employment Permit Acts 2003, 2006 and 2014 regarding an employer’s non-compliance with the legislation. The main offences and penalties are as follows:

  • Employing a non-EEA national without an employment permit – on summary conviction, penalties are a fine not exceeding €3,000, imprisonment for up to 12 months or both. On conviction on indictment, penalties are a fine not exceeding €250,000, imprisonment for a term up to 10 years or both.
  • Failure to surrender an employment permit to the relevant department within four weeks of the termination or cessation of the holder’s employment – on summary conviction, the penalties are a fine not exceeding €5,000, imprisonment for a term up to 12 months or both.
  • Failure to retain prescribed records for an employment permit holder – on summary conviction, the penalties are a fine not exceeding €5,000, imprisonment for a term up to 12 months or both.

Are there any other special considerations for sponsors in your jurisdiction?

There are no additional special considerations for sponsors in Ireland.

General employee requirements

Must sponsored employees meet any language requirements?

Employees do not need to meet language requirements under the employment permit process.

Are sponsored employees subject to any medical checks?

Under the employment permit process, applicants are not subject to medical checks and information is not sought regarding an applicant’s medical health or history. Where a non-EEA national also needs a pre-entry visa (certain non-EEA nationals require such a visa), no information concerning the applicant’s medical health or history is sought in the visa application form. Under immigration legislation, an immigration officer may refuse to allow a non-national to enter Ireland where the applicant suffers from certain medical conditions.

Must sponsored employees meet any medical or other insurance requirements?

No, sponsored employees do not generally need to have medical or health insurance.

Are sponsored employees subject to any security or background checks?

There is no obligation under the Irish employment permit application process to provide security or background information. Where a non-EEA national needs a pre-entry visa, the visa application form contains certain information concerning an applicant’s background and the applicant may need to provide a police certificate from their country of origin as part of this process.

Are sponsored employees subject to any restrictions on studying or working second or volunteer jobs?

The employment permit holder may also study, but only on a part-time basis. However, he or she cannot hold any other jobs, as an employment permit is employer-employee and job specific and is not a general permission to work.

Are there any rules or standards governing the equivalence of sponsored employees’ foreign qualifications?

For certain listed job positions, sponsored employees must be registered with or have their qualifications recognised by a specified Irish regulatory body before they can qualify for an employment permit.

What are the penalties for employee non-compliance with the relevant immigration laws and regulations?

The offences contained in the Employment Permit Acts 2003, 2006 and 2014 mainly apply to employers. The main offence concerning non-EEA national employees is being employed without an employment permit, which could result, on summary conviction, in a fine not exceeding €3,000, imprisonment for up to 12 months or both. In addition, under immigration legislation, non-EEA nationals must register with the Irish immigration authorities and keep them updated regarding certain personal details. Failure to do so is an offence and could result, on summary conviction, in a fine not exceeding €3,000 or imprisonment for up to 12 months or both.

Unsponsored immigration

Highly skilled individuals

What unsponsored immigration routes are available for highly skilled foreign nationals to seek employment in your jurisdiction? What are the eligibility criteria, application procedures and maximum period of stay for each?

There are no unsponsored immigration routes for highly skilled individuals as, in all instances, such employees must have a job offer from an employer to qualify for an employment permit (ie, they must be sponsored). If highly skilled individuals are married to or in a relationship with an Irish or European Economic Area (EEA) national, they can apply for an Irish immigration permit based on that relationship and will not need an employment permit.

Entrepreneurs

What unsponsored immigration routes are available for entrepreneurs seeking to establish a business in your jurisdiction? What are the eligibility criteria, application procedures and maximum period of stay for each?

Non-EEA national entrepreneurs who want to establish a business in Ireland can apply under the Start-up Entrepreneur Programme. To be eligible for this programme, an applicant must have a proposal for a high potential start-up (HPSU) in the innovation economy and €50,000 in funding. A HPSU is defined as a start-up venture that:

  • introduces a new or innovative product or service to international markets;
  • is capable of creating 10 jobs in Ireland and realising €1 million in sales within three to four years of its establishment;
  • is led by an experienced management team;
  • is headquartered and controlled in Ireland; and
  • is less than six years’ old.

The programme does not apply to retail, personal services, catering or other businesses of that nature. If successful, the applicant and certain family members will be granted a two-year residence permit which is renewable for a further three years subject to continued compliance with the programme’s criteria. The programme does not facilitate a fast-track to Irish citizenship.

Investors

What unsponsored immigration routes are available for foreign investors seeking to invest in your jurisdiction? What are the eligibility criteria, application procedures and maximum period of stay for each?

The Immigrant Investor Programme is available for non-EEA national investors seeking to invest in Ireland with a view to obtaining residency. This programme enables non-EEA nationals and certain family members who commit to an approved investment in Ireland to obtain residency. There are four eligible investment categories:

  • a minimum investment of €1 million in a single Irish enterprise or spread over a number of enterprises for a minimum of three years;
  • a minimum investment of €1 million in an investment fund approved by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service for a minimum of three years;
  • a minimum investment of €2 million in any Irish real estate investment trust listed on the Irish Stock Exchange for three years; or
  • a minimum endowment of €500,000 in a project of public benefit in the arts, sports, health, cultural or education sector.

Investors must have a net worth of €2 million. If successful, the applicant and certain family members will be granted residence for two years, which is renewable for a further three, subject to continued compliance with the scheme’s criteria. The programme does not facilitate a fast-track to Irish citizenship.

Ancestry

Are any immigration routes open to foreign nationals based on ancestry or descent?

There is no entitlement to apply for an employment permit based on Irish ancestry or descent. However, a non-EEA national can apply for Irish citizenship on the basis of Irish ancestry or descent. This type of application is a discretionary application and, accordingly, there is no certainty that it will be granted.

Other routes

Are there any other unsponsored immigration routes?

The main unsponsored immigration routes are dependent on non-EEA nationals having a personal relationship with an EU or Irish national.

Extensions, permanent residence and citizenship

Extensions and status changes

Can short-term visa or work permit holders switch to long-term visas? If so, what conditions and procedures apply?

Short-term visa holders cannot change their visa status while in Ireland other than in exceptional cases. Non-EEA national employment permit holders can apply for long-term residency if they have been legally resident in Ireland for a minimum of five years (60 months) through a work permit, authorisation or visa. In submitting such an application, applicants can also apply, if required, to be exempted from employment permit requirements. The five-year residency requirement is calculated on the basis of the immigration registration stamps in an applicant’s passport. A spouse or dependant of an applicant for long-term residency can apply only on the basis that he or she has been in Ireland for a minimum of five years (60 months) as a spouse or dependant. A successful spouse or dependant is granted a Stamp 3 immigration permission, which does not exempt them from needing an employment permit to work.

The application procedure is paper-based and requires specific supporting documentation. An application will be granted only if the applicant:

  • meets the five-year residency requirement;
  • has an up-to-date permission to remain;
  • is employed; and
  • is of good character.

It takes six to eight months to process this type of application (although it could take longer) and the current processing fee is €500.

Under what conditions can long-term visas be extended?

See above.

Permanent residence

Can long-term visa holders apply for permanent residence? If so, what conditions and procedures apply?

Non-EEA employment permit holders can apply for long-term residency if they have been legally resident in Ireland for a minimum of five years (60 months) through a work permit, authorisation or visa. In submitting such an application, an applicant can also apply, if required, to be exempted from employment permit requirements. The five-year requirement is calculated on the basis of the immigration registration stamps in an applicant’s passports. A spouse or dependant of the applicant for long-term residency can also apply, but only on the basis that he or she has been in Ireland for a minimum of five years (60 months) as a spouse or dependant. A successful spouse or dependant is granted a Stamp 3 immigration permission, which does not exempt them from needing an employment permit.

The application procedure is paper-based and requires specific supporting documentation. An application will be granted only if the applicant:

  • meets the five-year requirement;
  • has an up-to-date permission to remain;
  • is employed; and
  • is of good character.

It takes six to eight months to process this type of application (although it could possibly take longer) and the current prescribed processing fee is €500.

Citizenship

Can long-term visa holders or permanent residents apply for citizenship? If so, what conditions and procedures apply?

Long-term employment permit holders and long-term residency permit holders can apply for Irish citizenship subject to being in a position to satisfy the criteria set out in the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 1957, as amended. An adult applicant must:

  • have been legally resident in Ireland for at least five of the previous nine years (excluding time as a student). This should include one year of continuous residence immediately before the application date;
  • intend to continue living in Ireland;
  • be of good character; and
  • attend a citizenship ceremony and declare an oath of fidelity to the Irish state.

Non-EEA national spouses and civil partners of Irish nationals must have been married for three years and have been living together in an ongoing marriage or civil partnership in Ireland for no less than three years, including one year of continuous residence immediately before the application date.

Dependants

Eligibility

Who qualifies as a dependant for immigration purposes?

The question of who qualifies as a dependant for Irish immigration purposes is complex and depends on the nationality and immigration status of the family member sponsor. There is a distinction between the various categories of sponsor. For example, a non-European Economic Area (EEA) national spouse, civil partner, dependant or long-term partner of an Irish national, subject to them being legally resident in Ireland, can apply for residency in Ireland. The non-EEA national spouse, civil partner, dependant or long-term partner of a non-EEA national who holds an Irish employment permit may be in a position to join their family member, subject to the type of permit and whether or he or she is from a country that requires a pre-entry visa.

Conditions and restrictions

What conditions and restrictions apply to bringing dependants to your jurisdiction (including with respect to access to labour markets, education and public benefits)?

The question of whether a non-EEA national dependant of a family member sponsor will have access to the labour market, education and public benefits is complex and depends on the sponsor’s nationality and immigration status. There is distinction between the various categories of sponsor. For example, non-EEA national dependants of non-EEA national employment permit holders entitled to accompany their family member to Ireland are not immediately entitled to work and must obtain their own employment permits. By contrast, the spouse, civil partner, dependant or long-term partner of an Irish or EU national is generally entitled to work without an employment permit, subject to registering with the Irish immigration authorities. As regards education, a dependant may be in a position to access education, but may need to pay fees. The ability to access public benefits is largely subject to how long a non-EEA national dependant has lived in Ireland.