Dáil Éireann - Volume 446 - 20 October, 1994

Written Answers. - Work Permits Criteria.

55. Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Enterprise and Employment the basis on which a United States citizen can obtain a work permit in this country where she and her Irish-born partner are not married; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1810/94]

Minister for Enterprise and Employment (Mr. Quinn): Where employers wish to employ a person who is not an EU national they must first make an application to my Department for a work permit. Work permits are not required in respect of EU nationals nor, with effect from 1 January 1994, are they required in respect of nationals of Austria, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden. This is as a result of the entry into force of the European Economic Area, EEA, Agreement.

Official policy in regard to the issue or refusal of a work permit is based on the need to ensure that job opportunities which arise within the State are, as far as possible, reserved for Irish or EEA nationals. The issue of a permit is, therefore, not considered unless the employer can show that, despite all reasonable efforts having been made, there are no suitably qualified Irish or EEA nationals available for the position in question.

This general criterion is followed except in cases where there are special circumstances such as:

— that the prospective employee is a key employee and that a substantial [444] amount of high quality employment for Irish/EEA nationals will arise as a result of his-her employment, or

— that the prospective employee is coming as part of a recognised exchange programme, or

— that the prospective employee is married to an Irish or EEA citizen, or

— that the prospective employee has an Irish born dependant, or

— that the prospective employee is officially recognised by the Minister for Justice as being either a refugee or is permitted to remain in the State on humanitarian grounds.

As stated above, work permit applications are normally granted in respect of non-EEA nationals who are married to Irish citizens. The same consideration does not apply however to persons livng with Irish partners or to persons intending to marry Irish citizens. In such cases the normal criteria apply.