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Reactivation Employment Permit

The Reactivation Employment Permit replaces a class of Employment Permit dealing applications routed through the Migrant Rights Centre of Ireland.

Reactivation Employment Permits are designed for situations where a foreign national who entered the State on a valid Employment Permit but who fell out of the system through no fault of their own or who has been badly treated or exploited in the workplace, to work legally again.

Either the foreign national or the employer can apply for a Reactivation 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/s specified on the permit.

The Minister will, except in very exceptional circumstances, consider the issue of one new Reactivation Employment Permit for a foreign national under this scheme.


You must apply in the first instance to the Immigration Service Delivery (ISD), and make an application for permission to be in the State for the purpose of making an application under this employment permit scheme. If you are granted a temporary Stamp 1 and have a “Reactivation Employment Permit” letter from the Department of Justice and Equality, you may apply for a Reactivation Employment Permit.

You may be eligible for this type of employment permit if you are:

  • a person who previously held an employment permit, but who fell out of the system through no fault of your own, and you remained in the State although you are currently not legally resident in Ireland.
  • a person who is the holder of a current Work Permit Employment Permit for a low skilled and low paid position and who wishes to change employer but will not qualify under the new policies for a General Employment Permit.
  • a Spousal/Dependant Employment Permit holder who wishes to apply for a new Employment Permit for a new employer, but you will not now qualify for the new Dependant/Partner/Spouse Employment Permit Scheme. The new Scheme will only be open to Dependant/Partner/Spouses of current Green Card and new Critical Skills Employment Permit holders and Researchers and will not facilitate new applications in respect of Dependants/Partners/Spouses of Intra-Company Transfer and Work Permit Employment Permit holders who were issued their first Employment Permit prior to 1 April 2009.
  • a holder of current Spousal/Dependant or new Dependant/Partner/Spouse Employment Permits whose circumstances have changed (for example, separation) and where the Minister for Justice and Equality is satisfied that a Reactivation Employment Permit should be considered in the case.
  • a holder of the new Reactivation Employment Permit who is made redundant; you will have a period of 6 months (similar to other permit holders) to seek a new position and apply for a new Reactivation Employment Permit.
  • a holder of a new Reactivation Employment Permit who wishes to change employer. (You should note that, except in exceptional circumstances, employment permit holders are expected to remain with their initial employer for a period of 12 months before moving to a new job).
  • a current Green Card or Work Permit Employment Permit holder who is made redundant during the 6 months period preceding 1 October 2014. These categories of Employment Permit holders have until now been allowed a period of 6 months from the date of their redundancy in order to seek the same employment for the same category of job, even if it is now ineligible, and apply for a new employment permit. The new Employment Permits (Amendment) Act 2014 will not cater for redundancies in these cases; instead, you will be facilitated under the Reactivation Employment Permit Scheme for the 6-month period after your redundancy. If after this period you are unable to find new employment, you are then required to leave the State.

 You will not be eligible for a Reactivation Employment Permit if you:

  • have already availed of the scheme and you were granted a letter and a Reactivation Employment Permit under the Scheme. The scheme is intended to facilitate people who have fallen out of the employment permits system and to bring them back into legal immigration and employment. Those who continue to breach both immigration and employment permit legislation cannot be continuously facilitated under the scheme. However, you may be facilitated for a second time in exceptional circumstances which are completely outside of your own making.
  • hold a Green Card/Critical Skills, or Work Permit/General Employment Permit and you are made redundant on or after 1 October 2014. In this case you will be facilitated under the new Employment Permits (Amendment) Act 2014, which allows you a period of 6 months to seek the same employment for the same category of job, even if it is now ineligible, and to apply for a new Employment Permit. If after this period you are unable to find new employment, you will then be required to leave the State.
  • entered the State as a student or visitor and you were never the holder of an Employment Permit.
  • held an Intra-Company Transfer, Contract Service Provider class of Work Permit/Contract for Services, Internship or Exchange Agreement Employment Permit, and you have remained in the State following the expiry of your permit. These Employment Permit types are issued on the basis that they are temporary or non-renewable and on condition that you leave the State at the end of the duties, contract, internship, or exchange.
  • previously had an Employment Permit, but you subsequently left the State.
  • previously had an Employment Permit and a Stamp 1 residence permission but changed your status to another immigration Stamp.

Eligibility criteria

The main criteria applied for Reactivation Employment Permits are:

  • Remuneration must be National Minimum Wage or higher.
  • All occupations are permitted, including certain carers in the home, and excluding all other occupations in a domestic setting.
  • The foreign national must possess the relevant qualifications, skills or experience required for the employment.

Dependents/partners/spouses of Reactivation Employment Permit holders are not eligible for a Dependant/Partner/Spouse Employment Permit and must apply for a separate Employment Permit in their own right.

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 employees 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, where applicable, with the Companies Registration Office/Registry of Friendly Societies, 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. However, an exception applies where on the day on which the application is made the employer has no employees, the foreign national will be the sole employee, and the Minister is satisfied that having regard to the employment in respect of which the application is made, the foreign national concerned will be the sole employee of the employer. The exception to the 50:50 Rule will also apply at renewal provided the permit holder remains a sole employee.

A Labour Market Needs Test is not required for a Reactivation Employment Permit.

Employee criteria

Applications will only be accepted in respect of foreign nationals who:

  • Previously entered the labour market legally on foot of an Employment Permit,
  • Are not currently in employment in the State,
  • Have a genuine offer of employment in the State, and
  • Are holders of a temporary stamp 1 and have a “Reactivation Employment Permit” letter from the Department of Justice and Equality. The foreign national should make an application for this permission to the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service.

The foreign national is expected to stay with the initial employer for a period of 12 months. In accordance with section 12(1)(e) of the Employment Permits Act 2006 as amended, a new Employment Permit (for a different employer) cannot be considered if less than 12 months has elapsed since the permit holder first commenced employment in the State pursuant to the Reactivation EP. However, where the following circumstances apply, the Department may permit a Reactivation EP holder to change employer:

  • Holder is made redundant;
  • Circumstances (unforeseen at time of application) arise that fundamentally change the employment relationship.

Documentation which demonstrates that these circumstances apply to the foreign national concerned would be required to be submitted with the subsequent application.

Other than the exceptional circumstances set out above, after 12 months, the permit holder may move employer provided that a new application for an Employment Permit is made.

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.


The processing fee for a first time Reactivation Employment Permit is

  • €500 for an Employment Permit of 6 months’ or less duration or
  • €1,000 for an Employment Permit of duration of up to 24 months.

The processing fee for renewing a Reactivation Employment Permit is

  • €750 - for an Employment Permit of 6 months’ or less duration or
  • €1,500 - for an Employment Permit from 6 months up to 36 months duration.

Detailed information on fee requirements and certain waivers can be found on our Fees for Employment Permits page.

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 (for example, if the applicant was an employee and the employer paid the fee, then the refund will still issue to the employee).

Where the employer is the applicant, in accordance with Section 23 of the Employment Permits Act 2006, the employer or an agent acting on their behalf 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.


**Update on current position due to COVID-19 national emergency.**

The current arrangements, whereby an application to renew an employment permit can be submitted up to four months in advance of the employment permit expiry date and up to one month after the employment permit has expired, will continue. 

In general, the immigration permission of an employment permit holder is linked to their employment permit permission with the immigration permission expiring upon the expiration of an employment permit. The Department advises that an employment permit holder may continue to work whilst their renewal application permit is being processed and in such instances no person will be asked to cease work or to leave the country, where the employment permit has expired. When an employment permit has issued the permit holder may apply to the Department of Justice and Equality to update their immigration permission.

The duration of a Reactivation Employment Permit is for the defined period requested.

Applications may be granted for a maximum period of up to 24 months in the first instance and may be extended upon application by a further 3 years after which it is envisaged that a holder would apply for long-term residency from the Department of Justice and Equality.

An application in respect of the renewal of a permit can be made online on the Employment Permits Online System (EPOS) within 16 weeks prior to the expiry of the existing permit, on the relevant form and supplying the information and documentation requested therein.

Holders of Reactivation Employment Permits for 5 years or more

Non-EEA nationals that have held valid Reactivation Employment Permits for 5 years or more consecutively and have been working lawfully during that time may not require an Employment Permit to work in the State. In these circumstances the proposed employee may not be required to apply for a new Reactivation Employment Permit or a renewal of their existing Employment Permit and should contact the Department of Justice and Equality to apply for a temporary Stamp 4.

If an applicant does not satisfy the qualifying criteria, they are still required to hold an employment permit to work in the State. If he/she have been in continuous employment with his/her current employer for 5 years or more he/she may apply for a Renewal Employment Permit for an unlimited duration, in this case no fee will apply. If, however, he/she has not been with the same employer for 5 years or more he/she may apply for a Renewal Employment Permit for a maximum duration of 3 years and the applicable fee for the specific permit type applies.


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 receipt of their Reactivation Employment Permit. 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 1 month before the expiry date in order to avoid unlawful presence in the State.

Change of circumstances

It is recognised that circumstances may change through no fault of the employee which renders them unemployed.

If an employee is made redundant while they are a Reactivation Employment Permit holder, they are required to notify the Employment Permit Section of the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment of the redundancy. Such an employment permit holder will have up to 6 months from the date of dismissal by reason of redundancy to seek alternative employment.

A new Reactivation Employment Permit will be issued in accordance with the Reactivation Employment Permit scheme requirements.

If the foreign national cannot acquire another job within 6 months of being made redundant they must contact the immigration authorities to establish their immigration status beyond that period. Should the foreign national opt to leave the country and are later successful in getting another job offer in Ireland, they may apply for a new employment permit subject to the policy at that time.

Transfer of Undertakings

The holders of Reactivation 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 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. Failure to notify the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment of a Transfer of Undertaking could affect the application for renewal.

Cancellation of Employment Permits

In accordance with Section 24(1) of the Employment Permits Act 2006 should a non-EEA national, for whatever reason, cease to be employed by the employer during the period of the Reactivation 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 a permit holder 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