Irish Government Makes It Easier for Critical Skills Employment Permit Spouses to Get Work

14 March 2019

The Irish government has announced new measures that will make it easier for certain spouses and partners of migrant workers to gain employment in Ireland. The changes relate to the spouses and partners of migrant workers who have come to Ireland on the basis of a Critical Skills Employment Permit. That permit programme was designed to make it easier for Irish businesses and organisations to attract migrant workers who had skills not easily available in Ireland to come to the country. 

Despite the fact that workers on the Critical Skills Employment Permit are entitled to seek to bring their partners and families with them to Ireland, and that their partners or spouses could seek a work permit in Ireland, delays in the process meant that many partners and spouses had difficulty gaining work permits. 

Now, the government said on Wednesday 6th, spouses or partners of migrants in Ireland on the Critical Skills Employment Permit will no longer need to apply for a separate work permit. In announcing the change, Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humphreys, and Minister for Justice and Equality, Charlie Flanagan, both highlighted the benefits the streamlining of the process would have for Irish society and the Irish economy.

“While this scheme is primarily driven by the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation, it is also a prime example of proactive and positive engagement between two departments," Minister Flanagan said. "Because of this work, the non-EEA spouses and partners of critical skills employment permit holders will no longer need an employment permit from the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation to work in Ireland.On arrival in the State, eligible spouses and de facto partners will be granted an immigration permission with automatic right to work. This will enable critical skills permit holders and their families to quickly become established and assist in their integration in society."

How the change will work

Before this change, a non-EEA national, who is the dependant/partner/spouse of a Critical Skills Employment Permit holder, who wished to be in employment in Ireland was required seek a Dependant/Partner/Spouse Employment Permit on the basis of their Stamp 3 immigration permission. When they had received a job offer, the Stamp 3 holder could make an application for a Dependent/Partner/Spouse employment permit and if granted, the non-EEA national could reapply to the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) in the Department of Justice & Equality for a change of immigration status prior to taking up the employment. 

On the foot of the changes announced by the government, however, spouses and partners of a Critical Skills Employment Permit holder will not be required to obtain a separate employment permit. The Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) will grant eligible spouses and de-facto partners of CSEP holders permission to reside in this State on Stamp 1 Conditions which provides direct access to the labour market without the need to obtain an employment permit.  

NCP welcomes this change, as no doubt will many of the highly skilled people who have come to Ireland as a spouse or partner of someone with a Critical Skills Employment Permit. To quote Minister Humphreys about the change: 

"In order to attract the best and brightest to come to work and live in Ireland as opposed to in a competitor country, we need to offer an attractive range of benefits to both the highly-skilled job applicants and their families.  We are talking about a small group of people here – less than 1,000 spouses and partners per year – but this small change will make a big difference in terms of Ireland’s offering to both investors, and international talent.

"Furthermore, the research shows that in general the spouses or partners of the Critical Skills Permit Holders are themselves highly skilled and can make a great contribution to our economy. It also shows that in a high percentage of cases where foreign nationals leave a country earlier than planned, it is because their spouses or partners could not find work.

"In short, this is a good change that makes good business sense."

We thank the government for recognising the needs of these highly skilled migrants and their commitment to ensuring that Ireland continues to attract intelligent, skilled, and highly capable people from across the world. 

Where to next for spouses/partners affected

If you are the spouse or partner of a Critical Skills Employment Permit Holder in need of some guidance for seeking employment in Ireland, consider checking out NCP's Migrant Access Programme, which helps with CVs, interview skills, qualification recognition, and more. Go to: for more details.