Critical skills work permits how they work: The Basics of the process

South African passports- work permits- Immigration information for South Africans moving, immigrating, visiting or working in the Republic of Ireland

South African passports- work permits- Immigration information for South Africans moving, immigrating, visiting or working in the Republic of Ireland

Critical Skills Employment Permits (CSEP) are issued by the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation (DBEI)

Eligible occupations under this type of permit are deemed to be critically important to growing Ireland’s economy, are highly demanded and highly skilled, and in significant shortage of supply in our labour market.

Eligibility for a Critical Skills Employment Permit is largely determined by the type of occupation, and proposed remuneration level.

The Critical Skills Employment Permit is attractive for a number of reasons:

  • Because the skills are identified as being in short supply, a Labour Market Needs Test is not required.
  • Permit holders can apply for immediate family reunification from the Irish Naturalisation & Immigration Service of the Department of Justice and Equality and once their dependants/partners/spouses are resident in the State they are eligible to seek any employment and apply to the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation for a Dependant/Partner/Spouse Employment Permit which is currently issued free of charge, only registration fees are paid for not a work permit.
  • Permit holders may apply to the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service for permission to reside and work without the requirement for an employment permit upon completion of the Critical Skills Employment Permit’s duration.

The Employer

The normal 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:

  • Applications will only be accepted from employers that are registered with the Revenue Commissioners and with the Companies Registration Office/Registry of Friendly Societies, if applicable, and which are currently trading in the State.
  • That an employer – employee relationship will exist in that the prospective employee concerned will be employed, salaried and paid directly by the employer.
  • An employment permit will not be granted to companies unless 50% or more of the employees in the firm are EEA nationals at the time of application. The 50:50 rule is waived in certain circumstances see the website HERE

The Employee

  • Occupations with a minimum annual remuneration of €32,000 for a restricted number of strategically important occupations contained in the Critical Skills Occupations List a relevant degree qualification or higher is required.
  • In the case of a nurse or midwife, a third level degree or diploma accepted by the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland as a sufficient qualification for registration to practice as a nurse or midwife in the State.
  • All occupations with a minimum annual remuneration of over €64,000, other than those on the Ineligible List of Occupations for Employment Permits or which are contrary to the public interest. A non-EEA national who does not have a degree qualification or higher, must have the necessary level of experience.
  • The prospective employee concerned must have secured a 2 year job offer in respect of the eligible occupation from the prospective employer. 
  • The prospective employee concerned must possess the relevant qualifications, skills and experience that are required for the employment.

Recognition of qualifications and Registration with Irish bodies or organisations:

Its is very important to check if you need your qualifcations from SA education institutions are recognised and if you need to register with an Irish body or organization in order to work in Ireland in that career. Even in normal times these registrations can take months to process, and without that registration your work permit will be declined, and in some cases companies wont even look at you until you’re registered. Check HERE

Qualifications: NARIC

Here is a tool to look up your schooling or degrees and see what the National Framework Qualification (NFQ) is from South African terminology into Irish terminology HERE: NARIC


SA2Eire has a specific page for members to look deeper into how to get employment and some finer details of the process other than what is on the official sites, that more geared towards SA passport holders HERE


On receipt of a valid job offer, how to apply for a work permit

Applications for a Critical Skills Employment Permit should be made to the Employment Permits Section of the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation. The employer or the employee can apply. You apply online with the required documentation, using the Employment Permits Online System (EPOS). Some Critical Skills Work Permits may be processed faster depending on whether the company is registered as a Trusted Partner or not.

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

An application to apply for a Critical Skills Employment Permit can be made online on the Employment Permits Online System

Before you start your application please see our Critical Skills Employment Permit Checklist which will assist the process.

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 new 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.

The processing fee for a Critical Skills Employment Permit is €1,000. If an application is unsuccessful then 90% of the fee will be refunded. While the fee may be paid by a third party, current policy restricts refunds to applicants only (e.g. if the applicant was an employee and the employer paid the fee, then the refund will still issue to the employee). Detailed information on fee requirements and certain waivers can be found on our Fees for Employment Permits page.

Where the employer is the applicant, in accordance with section 23 of the Employment Permits Act 2006, the employer may not make any deductions from the remuneration of, or seek to recover from, the holder of the employment permit concerned any charge, fee or expense related to the application.

The full details of what is required are set out on the application form and include:

  • A full description of the proposed employment,
  • Starting date,
  • Annual remuneration excluding bonuses, and
  • Information in respect of the qualifications, skills or experience required for the employment.

Remuneration Criteria

In order to achieve the minimum remuneration threshold of €32k or €64k for a Critical Skills Employment Permit the following components are deemed to be remuneration:

  • Basic salary to achieve at least National Minimum Wage or a rate of pay fixed under or pursuant to any enactment, as the first component of the remuneration package and
  • Health insurance payments made to a health insurer registered with the Health Insurance Authority on its Register of Health Benefits Undertakings under Section 14 Health Insurance Act, 1994 or what the Minister is satisfied is the equivalent. 

The fee for a Critical Skills Employment Permit must be paid by the applicant. The applicant can be the employer, the employee, a connected person or contractor, or an authorised agent. Payments from businesses are made by electronic fund transfer (EFT). Currently this fee is EUR1000. If an application is refused or withdrawn, 90% of the fee will be refunded to the applicant.

The fee for the Certificate of Registration is €300. This is done once you are in Ireland at a Garda Immigration (Burgh Quay if in Dublin or in the town or district where you live outside of Dublin).

You need to do this to get permission to remain and to ensure you have the correct immigration status, as an employee. You will be given a Certificate of Registration which is also known as an Irish Residence Permit (IRP) (formerly called a GNIB card).

Applications are processed in chronological order, nothing can get your application done quicker or slower, unless the company is registered as a Trusted Partner with DBEI.

Please read on the official site the following topics:

  • Residency
  • Renewals
  • Stamp 4
  • Change of Circumstances
  • Transfer of Undertakings
  • Cancellation of Employment Permits


You can have your spouse, partner and minor dependant children (under 18 years) join you once you have your Critical Skills Employment Permit. There is information about family reunification on the INIS/ISD website.

The CSEP holder gets a Stamp1

Their spouse/ de facto partner will get a stamp3 by default, should they want to work they need to request at registration at Garda Immigration for a Stamp 1G. They need to have private medical in order to get this Stamp1G.

Entry Visas for South African passport holders

If you, your spouse and children are all South African Passport holders, you do not need an entry visa into Ireland. This is because Ireland and South Africa have a special agreement that allows South Africans to enter Ireland visa free.

This entry however is subject to having sufficient paperwork at entry, this is discussed later in the Resources section “Entry into Ireland.”

At entry into Ireland you will get an entry stamp of up to 90 days for all South African members of your family. This entry stamp will be placed in the South African members passports.

An employment permit is not a Residence Permission. In order to be lawfully resident in the State, it is a requirement that all non-EEA nationals in possession of an employment permit must register with the Garda National Immigration Bureau. It is in the best interest of the persons concerned to register as soon as possible following arrival. Delay in registering with Garda National Immigration Bureau could affect applications in the granting of long term residency and/or citizenship. Immigration permission to remain should, where applicable, be renewed at least one month before the expiry date in order to avoid unlawful presence in the State.


Special notes for Critical skills work permit holders:

Note if you are a Doctor:

  • Very often Doctors receive only 1 year work offers from the hosiptal or practice where they apply for work. As a result this does not give you a Critical Skills Work Permit, instead you get a General Work Permit. However, the Minister of Justice has made allowance for this in giving immediate family reunification as exceptional circumstances. Please do email the work permit department for clarification: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Note if you are GWP holders and dependants:

  • Email reply from the Secretary of the Minister of Justice regarding General Work permit holders not being able to have family join except for Full-Time Doctors HERE

Note on Seeking work in Ireland whilst on holiday

  • You cannot come to Ireland on holiday and seek work (see more below). You must seek work, apply for work and apply for work permits whilst in South Africa. HERE  

 So, we are going to go through this process step-by-step with you:


Important links: 


   #MapMyMove- Our coaching Service - confused or lost and need some direction? 

   Critical skills Work permits: Gov site

   Critical Skills Work Permits: Citizens Information site

   Critical Skills Work Permits: DBEI Site

   Skills Ireland

   Employment Permits Online System (EPOS)

   Processing times and dates

   Employment Permit Applications - Online Status Update Enquiry

   Registration information

   Salary Guides

   Documents you need for Entry into Ireland

   Family Reunification

   De Facto (unmarried) Partners and proofs required

   Admin before the move

   Admin once you're in Ireland

   Contacts and Big Big Links

Please note during Covid-19, a 14 day quarantine applies when you arrive in Ireland. Please see this link for VITAL info:   Covid-19 updates


Work Permit Seekers and looking for work whilst on Holiday in Ireland

We sent an email to the justice department asking if a person is able to come to Ireland on holiday and then seeking employment while on holiday. In essence, no you cannot seek work whilst in Ireland.


This was the response:

Visa Mail <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.> Wed, 1 Feb 2017 at 2:20 pm
To: Vicky
Dear Vicky

Thank you for your email of 20/01/2017

A ‘visa’ is a form of pre-immigration clearance which allows its holder to seek permission to enter the state. Not every non-EEA national requires a visa. In accordance with Schedule 1 of S.I. No. 473 of 2014 of the Immigration Act 2004, a national of South Africa does not require pre-immigration clearance to land in the state. Permission to enter the state however is required and is given at the port of entry by an Immigration Officer. A maximum stay of 90 days is permissible for the purpose of a short trip. Employment is not permitted.

Should you wish to take up employment, you must obtain permission prior to entering the State. This is an independent process and applies whether or not a person requires an entry visa. Permission to engage in employment depends on the nature and duration of the employment contract involved.

Applications for short-term employment (15 - 90 days) are processed by the Atypical Workers Unit of the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service

Working Holiday Authorisations, with the exception of Taiwanese applications, are processed by various the various Irish Embassies worldwide; which fall under the remit of the  Department of Foreign Affairs

Applications for long term employment (over 90 days) are processed by the Employment Permits Unit of the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation

All persons intending on residing in the State for longer than 90 days must register with their local Immigration Registration Office, further details are available here

Kind regards,
Visa Customer Services
Visa Office, Dublin
Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service
Visa Mail
Mail-In Query

Here is the email that we sent them:

From : Vicky
To: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.,
Date : 20/01/2017
Subject: Confirmation please

Good day,
I trust my email finds you well.
A debate has recently arisen regarding looking for employment while on a 90 day visitors visa from SA.

Could you confirm whether or not it would be a breach on the visa if a person on the critical skills list had to make contact with companies in Ireland while visiting to establish if they have possible vacancies, and then subsequently contacting the companies who indicated they do have once the person is back in South Africa?

I would appreciate if you could give some clarity in this regard, as most people are aware that they may not seek employment whilst on a visitor visa, yet some seem to believe this to be acceptable.

I look forward to hearing back from you.
Warm regards,

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