Minister McEntee announces reduced 6 month waiting period for international protection applicants to access work



28 January 2021


The Minister for Justice, Helen McEntee TD, has today announced new measures that will enable applicants for international protection to seek work six months after they make their application. 

Applicants previously had to wait nine months to apply for permission to work. In a further change, an applicants permission to work will now last for 12 months rather than six months. 

Welcoming the new measures, the Minister said,

Since its introduction in June 2018, access to the labour market has had a very positive impact for international protection applicants and employers. To date, 6,006 permissions to access the labour market have been issued, including 4,569 permissions to Direct Provision residents.


“Giving eligible applicants the opportunity to work earlier, and extending their permission to work to 12 months, will help even more people to integrate into Irish society while providing for themselves and their families outside of the State’s directly provided services and supports. It also helps people to plan and prepare for their future if they receive a positive decision on their application for international protection.”


Access to the labour market for international protection applicants is provided for under the European Reception Conditions Regulations 2018 and work on the relevant legislative changes for the new measures is at an advanced stage.


Highlighting how the new measures will be applied until that process is completed, the Minister said:


“The Department’s Labour Market Access Unit have begun issuing, on an administrative basis, 12 month permits for applicants of six months standing. 


“This change has been implemented from Tuesday 26 January 2021 for all outstanding applications received on and after 18 January 2021. Therefore, the new administrative arrangements have been applied to all applications from that date.”


Where requested, the Department’s Labour Market Access Unit (LMAU) will re-examine any applications for permission to access the labour market which have been refused on the basis of a first instance decision being made in less than nine months.


Any applicant who has been refused permission in the last three months because insufficient time had elapsed since their application for international protection may make a new application enclosing all documents required under the new guidelines.


Applications for a labour market access permission are available online at




Notes for editors

The new measures follow a review of labour market access for international protection applicants which was carried out by the Department of Justice, in parallel with the work of the Advisory Group (also known as the Catherine Day Group) on the Provision of Supports, including Accommodation, to Persons in the International Protection Process.


Applicants who are eligible for a labour market access permission can access all sectors of employment and occupations with the exception of those that require a citizenship or long-term residence requirement, such as the Civil and Public Sector, An Garda Síochána and the Irish Defence Forces.