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Ireland introduces Critical Skills program to attract foreign talent 



Ireland has introduced the Critical Skills Employment Permit program, which is meant to attract skilled workers globally to curb the escalating labour shortage. 

Nairametrics learnt that this program is different from typical work permits and aims to attract and keep highly skilled experts in sectors where they are urgently needed. 

The Critical Skills Employment Permit is for skilled workers who are qualified in professions where there is a shortage of skills in Ireland, and it focuses on processing applications from candidates whose skills are crucial to filling gaps in the Irish labour market. 

To determine which professions are needed, applicants need to check with The Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment (DETE) Critical Skills Occupation List. 

The program also facilitates a streamlined work permit process, forgoes language proficiency tests, and accommodates the families of the workers moving to Ireland. 


This program provides immediate work permits without the need for an IELTS examination. 

Additionally, Ireland presents a hospitable and family-oriented setting, allowing foreign workers and their families to integrate seamlessly and appreciate the nation’s scenic landscapes. 

There are various benefits of the program which are: 

  • Immediate Work Permits: This program offers fast-tracked work permit processing. 
  • No Language Test Needed: The applicant’s skills are of priority with no language proficiency exams standing in the way to work in Ireland. 
  • Welcoming to Families: The program enables easy relocation with family members through spousal work visas which are easily accessible. 
  • Exempt from Labor Market Testing: The Critical Skills Employment Permit waives the need for a labor market impact assessment, making the application process more straightforward. 

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 and 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 Enterprise, Trade and Employment for a Dependant/Partner/Spouse Employment Permit which is currently issued free of charge. 
  • 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. 
  • Criteria for eligibility 

The Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment examines a number of criteria when assessing Critical Skills Employment Permit applications including a job offer from a bona-fide employer based and trading in Ireland and who is registered with the Revenue Commissioners and, where applicable, the Companies Registration Office/Register of Friendly Societies. 

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

The following are eligible: 

  • Occupations with a minimum annual salary of €38,000 for a restricted number of strategically important occupations contained in the Critical Skills Occupations List a relevant degree qualification or higher is required. 
  • Nurses or midwife need to have 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 must have been offered a 2-year job offer in respect of the eligible occupation from the prospective employer.  


  • The application process 

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

The application for a Critical Skills Employment Permit can be made online on the Employment Permits Online System (EPOS). There is a User Guide (PDF document) available on the online system which guides the applicant through the process and details the documentary requirements for each employment permit type. 

Before you start your application, the Critical Skills Employment Permit Checklist (PDF, 325KB) can be checked to assist in the process. 

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