International students

Employment rights for international students

9 Nov 2023, 09:49

Information for international students studying in Ireland and Northern Ireland about their right to stay and work here after graduating.

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If you are an international student studying in Ireland, you may have the right to stay and work in Ireland after you graduate. Your right to work here depends on two things:

1. Where are you from? There are different rules for students and graduates from countries in the European Economic Area and Switzerland and those who come from other countries (also known as non-EU students). There are more restrictions on non-EU students.

2. Where are you studying or working? There are different rules for Northern Ireland (which is in the UK) and the Republic of Ireland.

If you are from the European Economic Area

The European Economic Area (EEA) includes all of the EU plus Iceland, Lichtenstein and Norway. Swiss nationals have the same rights as EEA nationals. If you are from one of these countries, you are generally entitled to study and work without restriction in the Republic of Ireland. This means you have a right to take up an internship while you are at university, and a right to work after you graduate.

You will not have the same advantages in Northern Ireland. If you are looking to stay in Northern Ireland after you graduate, you can find more information here .

If you are a non-EU student

If you are not from a country in the EEA or Swiss, you are known as a non-EU student. You must obtain a study visa before you come to study in the Republic of Ireland or the UK (which includes Northern Ireland).

Working in Ireland during your studies

While you are at college in the Republic of Ireland, you are entitled to work up to 20 hours per week in term time, and 40 hours per week in holiday times . You may be able to work if you are at a UK university (this includes Northern Ireland), how much depends on what you’re studying and whether you’re working in or out of term-time.

Working in Ireland after your studies

You may be able to stay and work in Ireland after you graduate, but there are some restrictions. If you are a non EU graduate, you can apply for a Stamp 1G work permit , which allows you to remain in the Republic of Ireland and work full time for up to 12 months from the date of your final results being issued. . If you have completed a level 9 degree (such as a master's degree or PhD), you can extend your Stamp 1G for an additional 12 months once you can demonstrate that you are in, or have been actively applying for, graduate-level work in the preceding 12 months.

After this, you will only be able to get employment in specific areas where there are significant skills shortages. These include information technology, healthcare and financial services. To stay in Ireland long term, you will need to get a either a General Employment Permit, or Critical Skills Employment Permit.

A General Employment permit allows you to work in any role once it is not listed on the Ineligible List of Occupations Permits, and once it has a salary of €30,000 or above, with some exceptions to this rule. See the government guidance on this, including a helpful video on how to apply for a General Employment permit, here.

Critical Skills Employment permits have different criteria, including but not limited to:

  • the job pays needs to pay over €64,000 a year AND not be included on the Ineligible list of Occupations


Find out more about employment permits in Ireland here and here .

The equivalent to this visa’ in the UK is the graduate visa, which allows international graduates to stay to look for work. Details are on the UK government’s website .

Many non-EU graduates are successful in securing employment in the Republic of Ireland after graduation. However, it’s not very common for employers to offer an employment permit initially when hiring Non EU graduates. If you secure a role after your course that is potentially eligible for an employment permit, it’s good to be aware that in most cases employers will initially hire you on your 1G Stamp and then, once the role fits the employment permit criteria, and once they are happy with your performance during your initial 6-12 months at the company, they can then be happy to sign an employment permit application to support you. It can be useful to know that the employment permit system in Ireland is different to the “sponsorship” systems in the UK and US, and that in Ireland either you or your employer can apply for, and pay for, your permit.

Government information

Here are some other useful government websites .

Republic of Ireland

Northern Ireland

Where to get help and advice

You can get advice from your careers service on career options, postgraduate study, and finding a job. Your careers office will also be able to answer any questions you may have about culture in the workplace. Check the website of the careers service at your college or university to find out about the times they are open.

Your university will have many clubs and societies which you can join. Taking part in these will give you an opportunity to make new friends and will give you an insight into Irish life and culture. You can find details of clubs and societies on college websites.

If you want to improve your fluency in the English language, you can find details of approved language schools at The Advisory Council for English Language Schools and MEI-RELSA , an association of English Language Schools. Listings for approved courses in the UK are available from the British Council .

gradireland editorial advice

This describes editorially independent and impartial content, which has been written and edited by the gradireland content team. Any external contributors featuring in the article are in line with our non-advertorial policy, by which we mean that we do not promote one organisation over another.

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