Working Entitlements for Stamp 1 Permission Holders

We have been consistently approached by many people seeking advice who have been rejected for jobs or interviews by recruiters and prospective employers due to the mistaken belief that a Stamp 1 permission does not allow for full-time employment in the absence of an employment permit. Strangely, there also appears to be a trend that employers will only employ persons who possess a Stamp 1G (or a Stamp 4, as is common) but not a Stamp 1, despite the terms of the permission expressly allowing for full-time employment. It seems that the confusion comes from a very general understanding of the documentary side of immigration practice, such as the (often mistaken) distinctions between GNIB/IRP cards, stamps, permission letters, and Employment Permits, and even Passports.

This note is aimed at assisting employers and recruiters in their understanding of the work entitlements of the more commonly encountered ‘stamps’ held by non-national workers, and set out the distinctions between the different documentary aspects of immigration practice and the associated working entitlements. It is hoped that this will clarify the meaning of permission stamps and what employers and recruiters really need to be aware of in their recruitment practices.

Non-nationals and permission to be in the State

Section 5 of the Immigration Act 2004 sets out that no non-national may be in the State without a permission granted by the Minister for Justice. Generally speaking, it is this ‘permission’ which gives a non-national a legal basis for being in the State. Permissions are then generally categorised by ‘stamps’, which reflect the various conditions attached to the non-national’s permission. These ‘stamps’ are in a numerical sequence (Stamp 0, Stamp 1, Stamp 2, Stamp 3 etc.), with each stamp reflecting the type of residence conditions – including work entitlements – which are attached to the underlying permission.


All non-nationals intending to reside in the State for more than 90 days must ‘register’ their permission and receive a ‘certificate of registration’ under Section 9 of the Immigration Act 2004, and this is commonly referred to as a GNIB Card (old form), or an IRP card (the new form). The GNIB/IRP card serves as evidence of a person’s permission and the conditions attached to it, but so too can a ‘permission letter’ given by any of the various Units or Divisions of the Immigration Service Delivery. These permission letters are evidence of the person’s permission and conditions, including work entitlements. The permission letter is sufficient to allow employment, particularly where there are delays in receiving IRP cards, and in light of the Minister’s change in practice to not include a stamp in the non-national’s passport.

Categorising Permissions – Administrative Practices and Employment Permits.

The bottom line from an immigration compliance perspective for employers, particularly HR professionals, is whether the person has a permission. If the person has a permission, then they are lawfully in the State regardless of whether they have an employment permit, stamp in the passport, or received their GNIB/IRP card yet etc. In order to determine whether the person can work, you must then look at the conditions attached to the permission which are reflected by the ‘Stamp’ number.


The stamp number will be available on a permission letter from the Immigration Service Delivery, which will also outline the conditions in more detail. A GNIB/IRP card will also outline the stamp number and a brief description of work entitlements. Depending on the non-nationals immigration history, they will not all have permission letters, but anyone intending to work in the State will have an IRP card at the very least.

For instance, a person may have applied to the Residence Division to change their status and received a Stamp 1 permission letter which expressly allows full-time employment without requiring an employment permit. This is sufficient to allow employment, and no employment permit is necessary if they are expressly exempt. The conditions for a Stamp 1 exempting an employment permit will state that full-time employment is permitted with a valid ‘permission or employment permit’. So long as the permission is valid, then full-time employment is permitted without an employment permit.

If a person receives an Employment Permit from the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment, this is evidenced by a physical employment permit given to the non-national concerned and their employer, but they will also receive a permission by the Department of Justice. The permission – based on having been given an Employment Permit – will simply be given Stamp 1 conditions, outlining that the permission is valid so long as the Employment Permit is valid too. This is simply an administrative practice by the Immigration Service Delivery, so a Stamp 1 is not exclusive to non-national’s needing an Employment Permit.

A similar distinction arises in respect of Stamp 1G holders. A person benefitting from the ISD Graduate Scheme will have a permission on Stamp 1G conditions, which allows for full-time employment but only for a maximum period of 24 months for Level 9 graduates, or 12 months for level 8 graduates. Beyond those periods, an employment permit must be obtained or an alternative permission which allows employment, including a Stamp 1 granted as a Change of Status from the Stamp 1G.

A Stamp 1G is also given to the spouses of Critical Skills Employment Permit holders. In this case, the Stamp 1G holder can work full-time without an employment permit and their permission is renewable yearly so long as the spouse’s Critical Skills Permit is valid or they obtain a ‘Stamp 4 Support Letter’ after two years. It is therefore critical that employers and recruiters etc. look beyond the number of the permission, and check what the conditions are.

Examples of stamps permitting full-time employment

As mentioned above, the key to determining employment entitlements is first check whether the non-national has a permission, then examine the conditions of that permission. The conditions will be demonstrated by a Stamp number as well as briefly outlined in either a permission letter or a GNIB/IRP card (some non-nationals may have both, and either is sufficient once the conditions are outlined):

Stamp 1without the requirement of an employment permit:

  • Permission to work full-time
  • Reckonable residency for naturalisation
  • Permission temporary but is renewable, often on a yearly basis, once conditions are followed
  • No requirement to obtain an employment permit – expressly exempt
  • Usually given to persons who successful applied for a ‘Change of Status’

Stamp 1 – employment permit required:

  • Must have received an Employment Permit
  • Permission to work full-time only for employer outlined on the permit
  • Reckonable residency for naturalisation
  • Permission temporary but is renewable, and duration depends on category of employment permit

Stamp 1G – Graduate Student

  • Permission to work for between 12 and 24 months
  • Not reckonable residency for naturalisation
  • Must obtain employment permit after Stamp 1G expires, or an alternative permission

Stamp 1G – Spouse/De facto partner of a critical skills employment holder

  • Permission to work full-time
  • Reckonable residency for naturalisation
  • Permission is temporary but is renewable
  • No requirement for an employment permit

Stamp 4 & 5 – Various categories (Spouse of Irish National, EU Treaty Rights, etc.).

  • Permission to work full-time
  • Reckonable residency for naturalisation
  • Permission temporary but is renewable, often on a yearly basis, once conditions are followed (EU Treaty Rights often granted for a 5-year period)
  • No requirement to obtain an employment permit – expressly exempt
  • Usually given to persons who successful applied for a ‘Change of Status’, either through marriage/family, or from previously holding an Employment Permit for either 2 or 5 years, depending on the type of permit held
  • Stamp 5 is given to persons with long-term residence in the State

As you can see from the above, Stamp 1 without the requirement of an employment permit is a more favourable permission than Stamp1G graduate student.  Each permission will have its own conditions and requirements set out in the permission letter received from the Minister for Justice. An employer’s blanket refusal of acceptance of a stamp 1 does not seem to take in account that some stamp 1 holders do not require an employment permit and that the permission maybe temporary but it is renewable.

We hope this short note is of assistance to employers and stress that it is general guidance only. A potential employer should look at each permission individually and we welcome employers/clients to contact us to seek further information or clarification on individual cases.

We can be contacted on 01 6174820 or at [email protected]