The Department of Justice and Department of Enterprise Trade and Employment have announced a change to the permission upon which non-EEA spouses and partners of certain employment permit holders are resident in the State. Previously, these spouses and partners would have been entitled to a Stamp 3 permission to reside in the State, however, as of the 15th May 2024, this has changed to a Stamp 1G permission.

The changes will apply to the spouses and partners of General Employment Permit, Intra-Company Transfer Permit and Critical Skills Employment Permit holders as well as the spouses and partners of those who are Researchers on a Hosting Agreement, and who have applied for and been granted non-EEA family reunification.

Under the previous Stamp 3 permission, spouses and partners were entitled to reside in Ireland with their significant other, however, they were not permitted to seek out employment. Where they wished to engage in employment, the spouse or partner would be required to apply for their own employment permit.

The change from Stamp 3 to Stamp 1G now means that such spouses and partners who have applied for and been granted non-EEA family reunification can take up employment as if they themselves have been granted an employment permit.

Despite this change in policy, the Department of Justice has confirmed that the application procedure for eligible spouses and partners who wish to join their family members in Ireland remains unchanged.

Applicants for family reunification should bear in mind that there is a 12 month period within which they cannot apply for family reunification where their family member is employed in Ireland under a non-critical skills employment permit or Stamp 4 without favourable conditions attached. Where the family member is employed under a Critical Skills Employment Permit or Stamp 4 with the relevant conditions attached, the spouse or partner can immediately apply for family reunification.

Effect on Spouses and Partners already resident in the State

As an ‘exceptional measure’, the Government has announced that eligible spouses and partners already resident in the State with a Stamp 3 will now have their current permission varied to replicate the conditions of a Stamp 1G.

Eligible spouses and partners will not be required to apply to change their current permission stamp and will instead be issued with a new Irish Residence Permit with the Stamp 1G conditions attached once their current Stamp 3 permit has expired. In the meantime, should such spouses and partners wish to seek employment they should provide their prospective employer with the following letter issued by the Department of Justice. Letter available to read here.

This exceptional measure will only apply to the spouses and partners of the holders of the following permits:

  • General Employment Permit or Intra-Company Transfer Permit;
  • Critical Skills Employment Permit or Researcher on a Hosting Agreement;
  • Non-Consultant Hospital Doctor on a Multi-Site General Employment Permit;
  • Person who previously held one of the above permits and is now a Stamp 4 holder;
  • Person issued with a Reactivation Employment Permit for a General Employment Permit, Intra-Corporate Transferee Permit or Critical Skills Employment Permit.

These spouses and partners must have been granted permission to reside in Ireland under the Non-EEA Family Reunification Policy, be legally resident in the State on a valid Stamp 3 and should wish to engage in employment.  

Along with this welcome change, the Government has also announced its intention to opt into the EU’s Single Permit Directive. The Single Permit Directive requires that the decision to issue, renew or reject a permit must be done as one single administrative act and will combine the application for a residence permit and employment permit. It is expected that the work to opt-in to this Directive will take over three years and we will be closely monitoring these developments.

Next Steps

Eligible spouses and partners should make themselves aware of the updated conditions of their new Stamp 1G. What is important to note is that while Stamp 1G permission allows such spouses and partners to seek employment in the State, it does not permit them to establish or operate their own business nor does it allow them to engage in self-employment.

For more information or assistance with employment permit policies and procedures, please contact Caoimhe Heery, Claire McDermott or any member of the Flynn O’Driscoll Employment Team.

This article is current as of 28/05/2024 and is provided for information only and does not constitute legal advice.

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