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Intra-Company Transfer Versus Critical Skills Employment Permits

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Your company is deciding to establish their European HQ in Ireland – exciting!

If you are lucky enough to be given the opportunity to relocate to Ireland for work via your current employer, you are probably eligible to choose between two employment permit options: the Critical Skills Employment Permit (CSEP) or the Intra-Company Transfer Employment Permit (ICT). If granted, both permits would afford you the ability to live and work legally in Ireland with a Stamp 1 permission.

So, what is the difference between the two and which should you choose (if given the option)?

The most notable difference is that on an ICT, you must remain employed by the US entity and on the US payroll, while given the ability to work and live in Ireland with the same legal rights as an Irish worker (see below for a list of these rights). This means that you will not be required to apply for a PPSN or open an Irish bank account while living and working in Ireland, and can maintain all payments to your American bank account. Furthermore, you will continue to pay US tax and will not be paying into the Irish Tax System (Revenue) during your time in Ireland. With the added rights of an Irish worker, you can avail of Irish PTO (minimum 20 days, not including bank holidays) and other benefits offered to the employees in Ireland.

So, what’s the downside to choosing the ICT route?

First and foremost, an ICT may be issued for an initial period of between 3 months and 2 years and may be extended for up to five years in total. If you are still with the same company at the five year mark of living in Ireland, your employer would need to go through the process of applying for a Critical Skills Employment Permit on your behalf, after which you’d need to apply for a PPSN and start contributing to the Irish tax system. You would then need to be on the CSEP for another 2 years to become eligible to receive a Stamp 4 permission.

What would be the benefit of choosing a CSEP over an ICT?

This depends on your intentions and plans of staying in Ireland long-term. In a way, it will require a bit more commitment, as you would have to give up being on US payroll and paying US tax in favor of being on Irish payroll and paying Irish tax. The good news? After 21 months of being on a CSEP in Ireland, you are eligible to apply for a Stamp 4 permission, which would allow you to legally live and work in Ireland without your residency being tied to a particular employer. If you are successful in securing a Stamp 4 then you will no longer require an employment permit to be employed in the country. This is unlike the ICT, which does not count towards a Stamp 4 permission.

The bad news? Your net salary may very well be less, as you will most likely pay more in tax in Ireland compared to the US. You’d also need to have a bigger commitment to staying in Ireland for the long-term, as you will be tied to your employer on a CSEP for almost two years until you can receive a Stamp 4 permission. If you wanted to search for other employment under that two year mark, your new employer would have to sponsor a brand new CSEP.

Below, I am providing the criteria and conditions that need to be satisfied for each employment permit application:

ICT Eligibility Criteria

  • The remuneration threshold for an ICT is generally €40,000 per annum.
  • The employee must be a member of senior management or key personnel.
  • The Irish entity must be made up of no less than 50% EEA / Swiss nationals.
  • The employee must have been employed with the sending entity for at least six months prior to the application.
  • The US entity and the Irish entity must be “connected companies”, i.e. they must be linked as follows:
    • Either one is a subsidiary of the other;
    • Both are subsidiaries of a holding company; or
    • Have entered into an agreement with another person whereby each of them agree to carry on business or provide services with each other in more than one state and to carry on business or provide services in the manner provided for in the agreement.
  • The employee must work a minimum of 20 hours per week in Ireland. This is a condition of all employment permits.

CSEP Eligibility Criteria

  • The Applicant’s proposed remuneration must be above €64,000.
  • The Applicant must have a job offer of at least 2 years duration.
  • The Irish entity must be made up of no less than 50% EEA / Swiss nationals.
  • The role must not be on the ineligible categories of employment list
  • The Applicant must possess the relevant qualifications, skills and experience that are required for the employment.

If the permit decision is not up to you, your company will need to decide whether you should remain on US payroll or not. They will then apply on your behalf to the Department of Enterprise, Trade, and Employment (“DETE”) for either the ICT or CSEP, provided that all criteria and conditions are satisfied. Please note that what I am listing only establishes an eligibility to apply for a permit based on strong merits, but there is never an absolute that a permit will be issued given that the DETE retains an overriding discretion.

The processing times for all permits are the same (assuming that this is your first application, and you are not a frequent user of the permit system that has Trusted Partner status with the DETE). Current wait times are between 3-4 months before the permit is issued, and you must not be in Ireland at the time the application is being made (ie, interpreted as being from the time the application is submitted until the time a permit is granted). You would be allowed into the country once Irish immigration issues the permit via email.

Once your employment permit is granted – congratulations! You can finally make the move to Ireland. You’ll need to print a copy of your employment permit to present to the airport officials along with your passport.

I’d strongly recommend giving yourself time to secure housing, as there is a major shortage in the country (especially in Dublin and Galway). Once you arrive in Ireland, within a few weeks you’ll need to make an appointment with your local Garda station to receive your Irish Residency Permit (IRP) card. You’ll need to provide your officer with a copy of your employment permit, proof of address, an employment letter, and proof of health insurance. They will then stamp your passport with the permit dates and every year after, you’ll need to return to the Garda station to renew your IRP card (this costs €300). If you are on a Critical Skills Employment Permit, you’ll need to register for your PPSN, open an Irish bank account, and register with Revenue online.

Good luck!

Summary of the Principal Employment Rights of Employees

All foreign nationals legally working in the State are entitled to the full benefit of Irish Employment Rights legislation.

The Workplace Relations Commission provides information on industrial relations & rights and obligations under Irish employment and equality legislation.

These statutory rights include (but are not limited to) the following:

• the right to be provided with a written statement of the terms and conditions of employment from their employer,

• the right to receive a written statement of pay or ‘payslip’ from their employer,

• the right to be paid a salary from their employer which is not less than the statutory minimum wage rates,

• the right to work hours which comply with the maximum working week requirements,

• the right to receive a minimum amount of breaks and rest periods during working hours,

• the right to be given a minimum amount of annual leave from work,

• the right to be given a minimum amount of notice before termination of employment.

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