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Changes to Employment Permits to Allow Spouses to Work

Today, 15th May 2024, Minister for Justice Helen McEntee TD and the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Peter Burke TD, announced that spouses or partners of General Employment Permit holders who join them in Ireland will now be granted the right to work. This right was previously only afforded to spouses and partners of Critical Skills Permit holders. 

Edel McGinley, Director, Migrant Rights Centre Ireland (MRCI) said, “This is a hugely welcome move by the Ministers today. People on General Employment Permits provide essential care for older people, build our roads and houses, drive our buses, and put food on our tables. We’ve pressed for some time for spouses and partners to have the right to work. This progressive change begins to show the value the government places on all migrant workers here in Ireland.” 

Tracy Lu, spokesperson for the Employment Permit campaign group who works in insurance said, “This is wonderful news. My husband is a qualified accountant, it has been so frustrating for him not to be able to work. This will make life so much better for us as a family.” 

Also announced today by the Ministers is the decision to opt into the EU Single Permit Directive. This will streamline the process of applying for an employment permit, immigration permission and a visa into one single application. 

McGinley continued “MRCI also welcomes the announcement that Ireland will sign up to the EU Single Permit Directive, this now needs a clear plan for implementation. This move means that people from outside the EU no longer have to make multiple, complicated applications to two separate government departments in order to come to Ireland to work and to renew their immigration permissions.  It should make the system much simpler, quicker, and less costly.”   

McGinley concluded “The Single Permit Directive also contains many additional social and economic rights and protections for people, and we look forward to seeing these fulfilled in Ireland.” 



Neil Bruton, 083 426 0081  

Edel McGinley 087 748 5695  



Notes to Editor