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Dependant/Partner/Spouse Employment Permits

The objective of this type of employment permit is primarily to support the attractiveness of Ireland as a location of employment for potential and current Critical Skills/Green Card Employment Permit holders and Researchers.

Dependant/Partner/Spouse Employment Permits

A Dependant, or Partner, or Spouse of a Critical Skills Employment Permit Holder is permitted to work in Ireland while they are resident here and accompanying the Critical Skills Permit Holder. In order to take up employment in Ireland they must have a job offer and then apply for a Dependant/Partner/Spouse Employment Permit (see link below).

A dependant, partner or spouse of a Critical Skills Employment Permit Holder is issued with a Stamp 3 immigration permission by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS). A Stamp 3 permission does not, of itself, entitle a foreign national to work.  Only those Stamp 3 holders that are accompanying the Critical Skills Permit Holder as a dependant, partner or spouse, can apply for an Employment Permit which would allow them to work in the State.

This Dependant/Partner/Spouse Employment Permit has a number of benefits including: 

  • The application is free of charge. 
  • All jobs are eligible for a Dependant/Partner/Spouse Employment Permit, except that of domestic operative. 
  • Remuneration must be at, or above, the National Minimum Wage. 
  • The prospective employer is not required to undertake a Labour Market Needs Test, i.e. advertise the position.

Once the dependant, partner or spouse of a Critical Skills Employment Permit Holder has been offered an eligible job, they can then apply for a Dependant/Partner/Spouse Employment Permit. When an employment permit has been granted, the foreign national applies to INIS to have their immigration status changed to a Stamp 1 permission. 

The Dependant/Partner/Spouse Employment Permit, if granted, is issued to the foreign national and a certified copy is sent to the prospective employer and will allow his/her employment in the State by the employer in the occupation and location/s specified on the permit. Permits can be renewed after the initial period granted.

Criteria for Eligibility

The Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation examine a number of criteria when assessing Employment Permit applications.

The dependant, civil partner or spouse of the primary permit holder/researcher must be legally resident in the State on the basis of being a dependant, civil partner or spouse of the primary permit holder/researcher. Applications for Dependant/Partner/Spouse Employment Permits for a dependant, civil partner or spouse residing outside the State will not be accepted. Such dependants/civil partners/spouses may, subject to normal requirements, make an application for a different type of Employment Permit.

The full details of what is required are set out on the relevant application form.

Primary Permit Holder/Researcher Criteria

The primary permit holder/researcher must still be working within the terms of their Employment Permit/Hosting Agreement and have either:

  • A valid Critical Skills Employment Permit, or
  • Permission to reside in the State under the Scheme for admission of Third Country Researchers to Ireland (also known as Hosting Agreement).

A dependant, civil partner or spouse of a person who was once a holder of a Green Card Employment Permit, Critical Skills Employment Permit or a Hosting Agreement, but has now received permission from the Department of Justice and Equality to be in employment without the requirement for an employment permit or Hosting Agreement is also eligible to apply for a Dependant/Partner/Spouse Employment Permit.

A letter is required from the employer of the primary permit holder/researcher, dated within the three months preceding the date of receipt of the Dependant/Partner/Spouse Employment Permit application, confirming that the primary permit holder/researcher is still in employment with that employer, and their job title.

Dependants/Civil Partners/Spouses not eligible for the Dependent/Partner/Spouse Employment Permits

Employment permits are not provided for the following:

  • Non-EEA dependants/civil partners/spouses of Irish nationals;
  • Non-EEA dependants/civil partners/spouses of EU nationals;
  • Non-EEA dependants/civil partners/spouses of non-EEA nationals who hold other classes of Employment Permits.

People in these categories should, in the first instance, contact the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service, which will determine the status of the relationship and may provide the appropriate residency permission along with permission to be employed.

Generally, a letter will be provided by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service outlining that the person may seek employment in the State without an employment permit; or that the person may not seek employment in the State; or that the person may seek employment in the State subject to the issuing of an employment permit. Where the letter communicates that the person may seek employment in the State subject to the issuing of an employment permit, such persons are not eligible for a Dependant/Partner/Spouse Employment Permit but may, subject to normal requirements, make an application for a different class of employment permit.

Dependant Criteria

Only certain categories of a dependant can apply for this type of employment permit. ‘Dependant’ means a foreign national—

(a) whom the Department of Justice and Equality has determined is a dependant of a primary permit holder or a researcher,(b) who has, since he or she landed in the State, resided in the State on a continual basis,(c) who is not in full-time education, and(d) who resides with the primary permit holder or the researcher.

Civil Partner Criteria

The definition of civil partner for employment permit purposes is the same as that used for immigration purposes and clarification can be found on our civil partnership page.

Duration of Dependant/Partner/Spouse Employment Permit

A condition of granting a Dependant/Partner/Spouse Employment Permit application is that the permit can only be issued for a period of either:

  • the expiry of the employment permit of the primary permit holder if the primary permit holder has an employment permit that is still in force, or
  • the expiry of the immigration stamp of the researcher, or
  • the expiry of the immigration stamp of the primary permit holder/researcher if they were the holder of a Green Card Employment Permit, Critical Skills Employment Permit or a Hosting Agreement which has expired and have now received permission from the Department of Justice and Equality to reside and work without the requirement for an employment permit.

The periods above are subject to a maximum period of two years.

It should be noted that the provision of the Dependant/Partner/Spouse Employment Permit does not affect the entitlement of a dependant, civil partner and spouse of the primary permit holder or researcher to apply for an employment permit in their own right, in line with the normal procedures with regard to the class of employment permit being applied for.

Criteria for Employers

The normal general criteria for employers apply, which seek to ensure that the employer is a genuine and legal employer so as to give a level of reassurance that the employment rights of employees will be adhered to. The Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation examines a number of criteria when assessing employers including:

  • That applications will only be accepted from employers that are registered with the Revenue Commissioners and where applicable, with the Companies Registration Office/Registry of Friendly Societies and which are currently trading in Ireland. This provides a level of assurance as to the credentials of the employer.
  • That an employer/employee relationship will exist in that the prospective employee concerned will be employed, salaried and paid directly by the employer.
  • That there is not an unacceptable ratio of EEA to non-EEA nationals already employed – an employment permit will not issue unless at time of application 50% or more of the employees in a firm are EEA nationals. However, an exception applies where on the day on which the application is made the employer has no employees, the foreign national will be the sole employee, and the Minister is satisfied that having regard to the employment in respect of which the application is made, the foreign national concerned will be the sole employee of the employer. The exception to the 50:50 Rule will also apply at renewal provided the permit holder remains a sole employee.

The Process

An application for any employment permit must be received at least 12 weeks before the proposed employment start date.

An application can be made online on the Employment Permits Online System.  There is a User Guide available on the online system which guides the applicant through the process and details the documentary requirements for each employment permit type.

There are up to three stages in the passage of an employment permit application:

  1. Application Received (Awaiting Processing): Once an application is submitted and the associated fees, if appropriate, are recorded the application is then placed in the relevant processing queue depending on the Employer type i.e. Trusted Partner or Standard. Please note that applications are processed strictly in date order by Employer Type and applicants can keep track of our current processing dates. They can also check the progress of their specific application online on our Online Status Update Enquiry facility.  
  2. Processing Stage: This stage is where the application is considered by a decision maker, an official with decision-making authority. The processor may request additional information, if required, which should be returned within 28 days. The processor will then either grant an application or refuse it for specific reasons.
  3. Review: Where an applicant wishes a refusal decision to be reviewed then he/she may do so within 28 days on the prescribed Submission of a Decision for Review Form. The review will be considered by a separate and more senior official. The confirmation of a refusal decision on review does not preclude the applicant from submitting a new application following all of the relevant procedures for the specific employment permit type.

There is no fee for a Dependant/Partner/Spouse Employment Permit.

Residency

Dependant/Partner/Spouse Employment Permits can only issue to persons who are residing in the State on the basis of being a dependant/partner/spouse of the primary permit holder or researcher. After an applicant successfully receives an employment permit, they should check with the Garda National Immigration Bureau to ascertain if their current permission to remain in the State needs to be updated. It is a requirement to inform the Garda National Immigration Bureau if you receive an employment permit.

Renewals

An application in respect of the renewal of a permit can be made online on the Employment Permits Online System within 4 months prior to the expiry of the existing permit or within 1 month of the expiry of the existing permit, and supplying the information and documentation requested therein.

The duration of a Dependant/Partner/Spouse Employment Permit is dependent on that of the primary permit holder or researcher. Renewals are considered on the basis of the current defined period given with regard to the primary permit holder or researcher. A condition of granting a renewal Dependant/Partner/Spouse Employment Permit is that the permit can only be issued for a period of either:

  • The expiry of the employment permit of the primary permit holder if the primary permit holder has an employment permit that is still in force or
  • the expiry of the immigration stamp of the researcher or
  • the expiry of the immigration stamp of the primary permit holder/researcher if they were the holder of a Green Card Employment Permit, Critical Skills Employment Permit or a Hosting Agreement which has expired and have now received permission from the Department of Justice and Equality to reside and work without the requirement for an employment permit.

The periods above are subject to a maximum period of three years.

Holders of Dependant/Partner/Spouse Employment Permits for five years or more

Non-EEA nationals who have held valid Dependant/Partner/Spouse Employment Permits for a consecutive period of 5 years or more and who have been working lawfully during that time may not require an employment permit to work in the State. In these circumstances the permit holder may not be required to apply for a new Dependant/Partner/Spouse Employment Permit or a renewal of their existing Dependant/Partner/Spouse Employment Permit and should contact the Department of Justice and Equality to apply for a temporary Stamp 4.

If an applicant does not satisfy the qualifying criteria for the temporary Stamp 4, they are still required to hold an employment permit to work in the State and should apply for either a further Dependant/Partner/Spouse Employment Permit or another employment permit type, subject to eligibility.

Change of Circumstances

It is recognised that circumstances may change.

If the holder of a Dependant/Partner/Spouse Employment Permit separates from the primary permit holder/researcher they are no longer eligible to renew a Dependant/Partner/Spouse Employment Permit. However, if the Dependant/Partner/Spouse Employment Permit holder obtains permission from the Department of Justice and Equality to remain in the State in their own right, they may, subject to normal requirements, make an application for a different class of employment permit.

Transfer of Undertakings

The holders of Dependant/Partner/Spouse Employment Permits can change employers where a transfer of employment has taken place under the European Communities (Protection of Employees on Transfer of Undertakings) Regulations 2003 (S.I. No. 131 of 2003).

Where, pursuant to a transfer of undertaking, there is a change of name in the employer, the employer (whose name is on the existing Employment Permit) must complete and send into the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation the Transfer of Undertaking Form.

Where the change of name is pursuant to a transfer of undertaking, and it is confirmed that the terms, conditions, description and location/s of employment as specified on the existing Employment Permit remain the same, the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation will issue a new permit to the permit holder and certified copy to the new employer. Failure to notify the Department of a Transfer of Undertaking could affect the application for renewal.

Cancellation of Employment Permits

In accordance with section 24(1) Employment Permits Act 2006 should a non-EEA national, for whatever reason, cease to be employed by the employer during the period of the Dependant/Partner/Spouse Employment Permit’s validity the permit and the employer’s certified copy must be returned to the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation within four weeks from the date of termination or cessation. An employer or an employee who fails to comply with this subsection is guilty of an offence.

All such permits which are returned to the Employment Permits Section in line with this will be changed to a Cancelled status on the Employment Permits Management System and these permits will no longer be valid.

Period permit holder must remain with employer

If the foreign national is granted an employment permit for the first time in the State then he/she is expected to stay with the initial employer for a period of 12 months. In accordance with section 12(1)(e) of the Employment Permits Act 2006 as amended, a new employment permit (for a different employer) cannot be considered if fewer than 12 months have elapsed since the permit holder first commenced employment in the State pursuant to an employment permit. This refusal reason attempts to strike a reasonable balance between, on the one hand, the employer’s expectations that the foreign national remain in his or her employment for a reasonable period of time given the costs involved in recruiting that foreign national and, on the other hand, not unduly binding the foreign national to the employer.   However, where the following circumstances apply, the Department may permit a Dependant/Partner/Spouse Employment Permit holder to change employer:

  • Holder is made redundant;
  • Circumstances (unforeseen at time of application) arise that fundamentally change the employment relationship.

Other than the exceptional circumstances set out above, after 12 months, the permit holder may move employer provided that a new application for a Dependant/Partner/Spouse Employment Permit is made.

 

 

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