ON MY FIRST VISIT to Ireland in 2010, I fell head over heels for this country. The friendly locals, the music, the pubs, the landscapes, the beer — everything about it spoke to me. While moving to Ireland took a little work (and a little time), I now find myself here a year and a half and still loving every minute of it.
If you need some help demystifying the process, take it from someone who has been there: it is possible and it is worth it!
How to get a job and move to Ireland:
1. First things first… are you eligible for a work permit or visa?
If you are lucky enough to be a citizen of an EU country, congratulations! The hardest part is over, so go on and start your job search. The rest of us non-EU nationals will eye you enviously as we trudge through the red tape and paperwork.
While securing a work permit or visa sounds like a daunting and near-impossible task, there is more than one way to find yourself living happily in Ireland.
- Work & Travel Scheme
Citizens of the US, Canada, Australia, or New Zealand, rejoice. Your governments have been gracious enough to set up reciprocal agreements with Ireland enabling you to live and work here for a set period of time. While these are temporary visas, if you find the right gig (or fall for an Irish citizen), you could find yourself with a work permit. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Here is the program eligibility in a nutshell:
- United States: Current university student or recent graduate within 12 months can apply for a 4-month or 1-year visa
- Canada: Ages 18-35 can apply for a 2-year visa
- Australia/New Zealand: ages 18-30 can apply for a 1-year visa
You can apply for these programs yourself or go through an agency (for a fee) that will provide perks such as setting up your bank account and 24/7 support. Here is where to look if you are to citizen of one of the four countries and want to participate in one of these programs:
Not a citizen of any of the four countries above? Don’t despair. Argentina, Chile, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan have similar programs but on a more selective lottery system. For links to country-specific information, check out this website.
- Third Level Graduate Scheme Planning to get your BA? Already have an undergraduate degree but want to further your studies? Do it in Ireland. Unlike the UK, which only grants non-EU students a four-month grace period prior to graduation to seek employment, Ireland is much more generous.With the Third Level Graduate Scheme, newly-graduated students can get a special visa which lets them apply for any job and work up to 40 hours a week. BA-level students are entitled to a year, while MA and above can stay for two years. You can apply for a work permit once your visa expires if you can’t get enough of those Dublin Saturday night ragers at Copper’s.Information on how to apply for this visa can be found on the government’s immigration website. If you are living in Dublin at the time of application, make sure to book your appointment with Burgh Quay Registration Office well in advance. If you thought trying to get tickets to the Taylor Swift concert was difficult, think again.
- Work PermitIf you have long left student life behind and are a certified working stiff, you can apply for a work permit to use your skills in Ireland. Two main permits exist and to apply for either, you must have a job offer.
A. Critical skills shortage
Certain sectors are facing a shortage of qualified workers so if you have the education and skills, you can essentially skip to the front of the line. The list of eligible fields includes nursing, IT, and engineering. If you fit into this category, you can breathe a little easier.
B. General Employment Permit
If you don’t happen to fall under one of the critical skills fields, you can still apply for a general permit. To qualify, jobs must pay minimum €30,000 and a Labour Market Needs Test must be performed. This basically just means that your prospective employer needs to show they first considered applicants from Ireland and the EU before deciding on an overseas candidate.
- VolunteeringIf you have enough cash stashed away in a shoe box or your underwear drawer, you may want to consider volunteering. If you plan to stay for more than three months, you’ll need to apply for a visa. This process can be done online and requires you to show proof of funds, health insurance, and full details of volunteer placement.The best options are gigs that provide room and board, such as WWOOFing or hostel work. A good resource for hostel and other volunteering jobs is WorkAway.info.
- Could you be eligible for a passport?If you have an Irish granny who always has the kettle boiled and her rosary beads nearby, you might be able to claim citizenship. Ireland grants passports to descendants of Irish citizens, even up to great-grandparents in some cases. If you find you are able to go this route, you are golden. An Irish passport entitles you to free movement and employment rights across the EU.The Irish government has created this handy questionnaire to help determine if you’re eligible.
2. Some tips for your job search
No matter which visa scheme or work permit works best for you, there’ll be a point where you’ll need to find a job and start bringing home some dough. There are several ways to find paid jobs that can be done either online before your arrival or once you’re in-country.
If you are applying for a work permit, you must have your job offer secured beforehand. My favorite site for job searches is Indeed.ie. You can also use IrishJobs.ie. Be sure to check with companies originating in your home country that may have offices in Ireland. For example, US companies like Facebook, Indeed, and Google all have branches in Dublin.
If you participate in a visa program, you can choose to start your search early or pound the pavement in your new town. For hostel and hospitality jobs, it’s best to show up in person with your resume. These jobs are highly sought after, especially in Dublin and larger cities like Galway. Making the rounds with your CV will allow you to demonstrate your shining personality to potential employers.
If you are a university student, check with your college. Paid opportunities exist on-campus. I worked at the University College Dublin library during my Master’s program. I made great connections, learned some new skills, and got paid to work flexible hours!
3. Gather your documents for the application
Whether you go for the general or critical skills employment permit, you will need the following:
- Digital passport-sized photo
- Digital copy of information page of passport
- Proof of job offer paying at least 30K per year
- Proof of Labour Market Needs Test (exempt for Critical Skills Permit)
For visa programs, requirements differ so check with the specific programs mentioned above.
Got everything? You’re almost there!
4. Apply online
The online application system for work permits is easy and straightforward. Make sure you have all your documents ready and access to a scanner or camera as they will need to be uploaded. Thank goodness for modern technology.
Once you’ve submitted your application, you can check the processing times which are updated daily. If you are the type to compulsively check for updates, there is a page to enter your details to see the current status of your application.
5. Pack your wellies and grab a celebratory Guinness!
Living in Ireland will teach you that most of life’s hardships can be shrugged off with a simple, “sure, it’s grand.” You’ll soon learn to kick back and enjoy the simple things, like a nice pint of stout with friends after work.
And if you stay long enough, the weather doesn’t seem half bad.