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Exchange Agreement Employment Permit

The Exchange Agreement Employment Permit replaces the old Exchange Agreement class of Work Permit Employment Permit and will also cater for employment permits for international reciprocal agreements.

Exchange Agreement Employment Permits are designed to facilitate the employment in the State of foreign nationals pursuant to prescribed agreements or other international agreements to which the State is a party.

Either the foreign national or the employer may apply for an Exchange Agreement Employment Permit and the employment permit is issued to the foreign national, and a certified copy sent to the employer, which permits his or her employment in the State by the employer in the occupation and location specified on the permit.

Exchange Agreement Employment Permits may be issued for differing periods up to a maximum of two years, depending on the type of exchange agreement.

In accordance with Section 12(1)(e) 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. However, the Department will permit an Exchange Employment Permit holder to apply for a Critical Skills Employment Permit or General Employment Permit during that 12-month period.

Criteria eligibility

The current agreements for which Exchange Agreement Employment Permits are eligible are:


Employment Permits under this agreement may only be considered for a maximum period of 12 months and are non-renewable.

AIESEC is a global, non-political, independent, not-for-profit organisation run by students and recent graduates of institutions of higher education. Its members are interested in world issues, leadership and management.

AIESEC is an international platform for young people to discover and develop their potential so as to have a positive impact on society. To reach this aim, AIESEC provides over 5,000 leadership positions, organizes over 350 conferences, and runs an exchange program that offers 3,500 members the opportunity to live and work in a foreign country on either development, education, management or technical traineeships. They are engaged with over 3,000 organizations and have a presence in over 800 universities in 89 countries. AIESEC is a proven and innovative route for sourcing high-potential university students and graduates from all over the world.

The International Association for the Exchange of Students for Technical Experience (IAESTE)

Employment Permits under this agreement can only be considered for a maximum period of 12 months and are non-renewable.

IAESTE is a non-political, independent and non-governmental organisation representing academics, industrial and student interests.

Each participating country, of which there are currently over 85 worldwide, is represented by a National Committee, which is responsible for the administration of the exchange in that country. IAESTE Ireland is managed by Léargas, the Exchange Bureau, and is supported by the Department of Education and Science. Ireland has been a member of the IAESTE network since 1962 and many hundreds of Irish students have gained both important work experience as well as cultural awareness through their participation on the programme. The IAESTE Programme works on a reciprocal basis, so that for every foreign trainee placed in a company in Ireland, an Irish student has the opportunity to take up a traineeship abroad.

Students participating on the programme come from all over the world. They must be studying in the areas of Architecture, Engineering, Information Technology or the Sciences. Trainees are expected to be in their penultimate or final year. Placements are usually available in the summer months.

The Fulbright Programme

Employment permits under this agreement can only be considered for a maximum period of 12 months and are non-renewable.

The Programme was originally established in 1957 and was administered by the Scholarship Exchange Board (its official title was, in Irish, An Bord Scoláireachtaí Cómhalairte). A bilateral agreement between Ireland and the United States was signed in 1988 and a statutory body, The Ireland - United States Commission for Educational Exchange - known as The Fulbright Commission - was established in 1992. The Commission derives its income through contributions from the Irish and US Governments and donations from the corporate sector.

The Irish Fulbright Commission finances study, research, teaching and other educational activities between Ireland and the United States. The Fulbright Programme enjoys the prestige of being the only official educational exchange programme between the governments of the United States and Ireland. Awards are made through open competition to outstanding post-graduate students and post-doctoral scholars who demonstrate leadership qualities, and to potential and established leaders of professional, academic and artistic excellence, who are recognised in their fields.

Exchange between St Joseph’s University, Philadelphia and University College Cork in conjunction with Bord Bia

Employment permits under this agreement can only be considered for a maximum period of 12 months and are non-renewable.

This involves the exchange of international food marketing students in order to gain work experience in major food companies both here and abroad.

Vulcanus In Europe Programme (Ireland)

The Vulcanus in Europe Programme has been running since 1996 by the EU-Japan Centre for Industrial Cooperation. It is a unique venture established in 1987 by the European Commission and Japan’s Ministry of Economic, Trade and Industry. The purpose of the scheme is to invite Japanese participant students of engineering, science and technology to Europe for a year to undertake language training and work as interns in a host company working on research projects.

Employer criteria

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 employee will be adhered to. The Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment 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 Ireland.
  • 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 issue unless at the time of application 50% or more of the employees in a firm are EEA nationals.
  • A Labour Market Needs Test is not required for an Exchange Agreement Employment Permit.

Employee criteria

Applications will only be accepted in respect of employees where:

  • The remuneration offered is the National Minimum Wage or higher.
  • They possess the relevant qualifications, skills, knowledge or experience for the occupation.
  • The exchange or international agreement applies to the foreign national concerned and the application is supported by a letter from the exchange organisation.

The application 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 (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.

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, that is, 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 processing fee for an Exchange Agreement Employment Permit.


Following a successful application for an employment permit, and if visa required, an applicant should apply to his/her local Irish Embassy/Consulate for an entry visa. An online visa application form may be found at inis.gov.ie. Contact details for Irish Embassies/Consulates and a list of visa required countries may be found on the Department of Foreign Affairs website dfa.ie.

Any persons wishing to enter the State, whether visa required or not, are subject to the usual immigration controls at the port of entry. Therefore, all relevant and supporting documentation, including the original employment permit, must be available for inspection by an Immigration Officer. Entry to the State is always at the discretion of the Immigration Officer.

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. 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.

Holders of Exchange Agreement Employment Permits do not accrue rights for long term residency purposes as the permit is available on the basis that the employment is temporary.

Transfer of Undertakings

The holders of Exchange Agreement 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 (SI No 131 of 2003).

Where, pursuant to a transfer of undertaking, there is a change in the name of the employer, the employer (whose name is on the existing Exchange Agreement Employment Permit) must complete and send in to the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment the prescribed Transfer of Undertaking form. This form can now be submitted by email to employmentpermits@enterprise.gov.ie.

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 will issue a new permit to the permit holder/s and certified copy/ies to the new employer.

Cancellation of Employment Permits

In accordance with Section 24(1) of the Employments Permits Act 2006, should a non-EEA national, for whatever reason, cease to be employed by the employer during the period of the Exchange Agreement Employment Permit’s validity the permit and the employer’s certified copy must be returned to the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment within 4 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.

Employment Permits Section