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Sport and Cultural Employment Permit

The Sport and Cultural Employment Permit replaces the old sports professional class of Work Permit and will cater for the sports and cultural sectors.

Sport and Cultural Employment Permits are designed to facilitate the employment in the State of foreign nationals with the relevant qualifications, skills, experience or knowledge for the development, operation and capacity of sporting and cultural activities.

The Department may consult with relevant persons or governing bodies to ascertain if the issue of an employment permit is appropriate in each case.

Either the foreign national or the employer may apply for a Sport and Cultural Employment Permit and the 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.

Sport and Cultural Employment Permits may be issued for differing periods depending on whether the contract of employment is full-time up to a maximum of 2 years, or seasonal.

If the foreign national is granted an employment permit for the first time in the State then he/she is expected to stay with the initial employer for a period of 12 month, unless it is seasonal. In accordance with section12(1)(e) 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 an employment permit. This refusal reason attempts to strike a reasonable balance between, on the one hand, the employer’s expectations that the foreign national remain in his or her employment for a reasonable period of time given the costs involved in recruiting that foreign national and, on the other hand, not unduly binding the foreign national to the employer. However, where the following circumstances apply, the Department may permit a Sport and Cultural Employment Permit 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 and seasonal, after 12 months, the permit holder may move employer provided that a new application for a Sport and Cultural Employment Permit is made.

Criteria eligibility

The Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment examine a number of criteria when assessing Employment Permit applications.

Remuneration must be National Minimum Wage or higher.

Dependants, civil partners and spouses of Sport and Cultural 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, for example, Critical Skills Employment Permit or a General Employment Permit.

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 who are registered with the Revenue Commissioners and, if 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. A Labour Market Needs Test is not required for a Sport and Cultural Employment Permit.

Employee criteria

Applications will only be accepted in respect of foreign nationals who possess the relevant qualifications, skills and experience that are required for the employment.

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 Sport and Cultural Employment Permit is

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

The processing fee for a renewal Sport and Cultural 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 24 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 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.


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 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.

In certain circumstances, an employment permit may issue to persons already lawfully residing in the State on another immigration permission and who have been offered employment in an eligible occupation. In this instance, on receipt of the employment permit, the persons concerned must register their change of status with the Garda Naturalisation and Immigration Bureau.


**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 Sport and Cultural 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. Sport and Cultural Employment Permits for seasonal work may be renewed where the contract of employment is extended and there is no break in service.

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, and supplying the information and documentation requested therein.

Holders of Sport and Cultural Employment Permits for 5 years or more

Non-EEA nationals who have held valid Sport and Cultural 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 Sport and Cultural 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.

Transfer of Undertakings

The holders of Sport and Cultural 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 Sports and Cultural 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 Sport and Cultural 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