Sinnott Solicitors have seen a rise in queries in recent times regarding Working Holiday Visas – What are they? Who can apply for them? Can a person apply for an employment permit whilst living in Ireland on a Working Holiday Authorisation?

In this article we will address some of the queries which we frequently receive on this area.

The Working Holiday Authorisation (informally referred to as a Working Holiday Visa) is a specific type of immigration permission which permits the young citizens of certain countries to live and work in Ireland, allowing them to experience Irish life and cultural and all the benefits associated with same for up to one year.
The countries applicable to the programme are as follows:

  • Argentina
  • Australia
  • Canada
  • Chile
  • Hong Kong
  • Japan
  • New Zealand
  • Republic of Korea
  • United States of America
  • Taiwan

Individuals must be aged between 18-35 in order to qualify for the Working Holiday Authorisation.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade are responsible for the processing of this scheme so applications must be submitted to the relevant Irish Embassy/Consulate in the country of which the Applicant is a citizen, or in certain circumstances, the country in which they are lawfully resident.

For example, an Australian national who is lawfully living in the United Kingdom can submit their application through the Embassy of Ireland in London.

The only exception to this is citizens of Taiwan who must apply directly to the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service.

The authorisation allows individuals to live and work in Ireland for no longer than twelve months – with the exception of Canadian citizens who are eligible to live here for up to twenty-four months on a Working Holiday Authorisation.

Unlike Employment Permits where there is a large list of Ineligible Categories of Employment which restricts applicants from working in specific jobs, there are no such rules attached to Working Holiday Authorisations. Individuals can work in any job which they choose and which must be in compliance with Irelands highly regulated employment laws such as minimum wage requirements, maximum working hours, holiday entitlements etc.

Once the Working Holiday Authorisation is granted, the grantee must travel to Ireland within twelve months of the date of issue, otherwise the authorisation will no longer be valid. Certain countries for example Chile, Taiwan, Argentina have a quota on the number of authorisations which will be granted per year.

Similarly, certain countries have specific windows of time during which applications will only be accepted for processing, so individuals should always check the Irish Embassy website of the relevant country in which they will be applying regarding country specific requirements.

US citizens must be over the age of 18 and currently be in full-time post-secondary education inside or outside of the US leading to an Associate, Bachelor, Master or Doctorate Degree, (or certificate/diploma leading to one of these) or have graduated from one of these within the twelve-month period before their application is received by the relevant Irish Consulate/Embassy.

Applicants must be able to show that they have at a minimum sufficient funds to pay for a return ticket as well sufficient funds to support the trip.

One issue which we have received multiple inquires on recently is whether an individual who is living in Ireland pursuant to a Working Holiday Authorisation may apply to the Department of Enterprise Business and Innovation to be granted an Employment Permit, whilst they are living here.

Previously this was allowed, and we are aware of many individuals who have successfully changed their Working Holiday Authorisation to an Employment Permit whilst living in the State. However, following a recent policy change by the Department of Enterprise Business and Innovation, applications for Employment Permits from individuals who are currently resident in the State on a Working Holiday Authorisation are no longer accepted.

As a result of this if a person who is living here on Working Holiday Authorisation receives a job offer for a role which is eligible for an Employment Permit, they cannot submit the work permit application whilst resident in Ireland and must leave the State in order to do so, even if their Working Holiday Authorisation is still valid.

Sinnott Solicitors submit that this policy is wholly unlawful and that the Minister for Enterprise Business and Innovation is not entitled to adopt such a fixed and inflexible policy which effectively excludes the exercise of any discretion or fails to have regard to the circumstances of the individual case under consideration when requiring Applicants who are lawfully living in Ireland on a Working Holiday Authorisation to leave the State in order to apply for an Employment Permit.

We are aware of Applicants who may have already commenced employment with an employer who have subsequently lost out on the permanent role due to the unnecessary requirement of having to leave the State to apply for the Employment Permit, particularly having regard to the ongoing lengthy processing times for Employment Permit applications which are currently taking an average of fourteen weeks to process.

The Immigration team at Sinnott Solicitors has extensive experience in dealing with applications for Working Holiday Authorisations.

If you have any queries on the process or any matters raised in this article, do not hesitate to contact our Immigration Department today on 0035314062862 or