Effective June 1, 2009, eligibility requirements for work permits and Green Card applications in Ireland are being revised with the result that the qualifying conditions for non-European Economic Area nationals are likely to become much stricter.
The following changes have been introduced to Irish work permit regulations:
- More classifications of workers, including domestic workers and heavy goods vehicles drivers, will not be eligible to apply for work permits.
- Work permits for jobs that pay under EUR 30,000 (USD 41,888) per annum will no longer be eligible for work permits.
- The Green Card list, which covers professions with salaries between EUR 30,000 (USD 41,888) and EUR 59,999 (USD 83,774) a year, has been revised to exclude certain occupations in healthcare, financial services and marketing.
- Work permit renewals will be tougher to acquire – higher fees will be instituted, as well as the requirement for a labor market needs test to be carried out.
- Tougher labor market needs tests will be required for all future work permit applications and renewals to ensure that vacancies are filled by Irish or EEA nationals if possible – for instance, vacancies must be advertised on the national Irish employment agency Web site (EURES/FAS) for eight weeks and in the national press for six weeks.
- Spouses and dependants of work permit holders will have to apply for their own permit to be eligible to work, subject to the standard eligibility criteria and fees.
These new and stricter conditions are expected to make it more difficult for new migrants to come into Ireland, which has one of the highest unemployment rates in Europe, estimated in May to be at 11.4 percent. So far this year, 2,087 permits have been granted to foreign nationals, compared with 23,722 for the same period two years ago. According to the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment, only about 1.5 percent of the Irish labor force hold an employment permit.