Migrant workers and unemployment

Unemployed in Ireland

If you have come to work in Ireland and you lose your job, you need to find out if you have a right to redundancy, stay and look for work, social welfare and tax refunds.

If you are a UK citizen, you have the right to live and work in Ireland. You can read more about the residence rights of UK citizens.

If you are an EEA or Swiss national you can stay in Ireland, if you are unemployed and looking for work. If you are getting unemployment benefit in the country you are leaving, you may transfer it to Ireland for a limited time. Find more information about unemployment benefits in the EU.

If you are a non-EEA national who has an employment permit there are special arrangements if you lose your job – see below.

Employment permit holders

There are special rules for employment permit holders who have been made redundant. You must notify the Employment Permits Section of the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment within 4 weeks of the redundancy using the Redundancy Notification Form. You have up to 6 months from the date on which you were made redundant to find another job.

If you have been made redundant after working on a work permit for 5 consecutive years you will no longer need a permit to work in Ireland.

If you entered the State on a valid employment permit but you fell out of the system through no fault of your own, or you have been badly treated or exploited in the workplace, you may be eligible for a Reactivation Employment Permit.


If you are dismissed by your employer you should check if it is a redundancy situation, for example, the closure of a business. Your employer must prove that there was a genuine redundancy situation and that fair procedures were followed. If it is not a genuine redundancy or if you think you have been unfairly selected for redundancy, you may qualify to bring a claim for unfair dismissal.

If it is a genuine redundancy situation and you have been working for your employer for at least 2 years, you may be entitled to a redundancy payment.

You may have other entitlements such as notice and holiday pay.

Social welfare payments

Jobseeker's Benefit

You may be entitled to Jobseeker’s Benefit(JB) when you lose your job or are made redundant. To get JB you must be unemployed, looking for work and have paid a certain number of social insurance (PRSI) contributions.

EEA migrant workers may combine their social insurance contributions paid in another EU country to help them qualify for JB.

EEA workers who do not qualify for Jobseeker's Benefit and are actively looking for work will meet the habitual residence requirement for Supplementary Welfare Allowance (SWA). If you been working in Ireland for less than 12 months, you can get SWA for 6 months from the date your employment ended. If you have been employed for more than 12-months, you can get SWA as long as you are actively looking for work. SWA is a means-tested payment.

You can read about EU/EEA citizens and social welfare.

Non-EEA migrant workers who qualify for JB can get it if they are legally resident in Ireland.

Non-EEA students are not entitled to social welfare payments in Ireland.

Jobseeker's Allowance

If you are not entitled to Jobseeker’s Benefit, you can apply for Jobseeker’s Allowance (JA). Jobseeker’s Allowance is a means-tested payment. To get JA you must be unemployed, looking for work and pass a means test. You must also be habitually resident to get JA.

Tax refunds

You may be entitled to a tax refund, if you have paid tax and you are now unemployed. If you have not paid any tax, you will not be due a refund.

If you are getting another income which is taxable, for example, Jobseeker’s Benefit, you should wait for 8 weeks from the date you became unemployed before applying for a refund.

If you are not getting Jobseeker’s Benefit and have no other taxable income, you should wait 4 weeks from the date you become unemployed before applying for a refund.

If emergency tax was being deducted by your former employer you should apply immediately.

Return home

If you have no work and you are not entitled to a social welfare payment or you do not have permission to remain, you may find it very difficult to continue living in Ireland.

If you are an EEA citizen, you can contact your local Community Welfare Service to find out if they can help you return home.

Scheme of voluntary assisted return

If you are a non-EEA citizens, an asylum seeker or an irregular migrant who wishes to return voluntarily to your country of origin the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) may be able to help you to return home. If you return voluntarily and you have no outstanding criminal court proceedings, you may apply to re-enter Ireland legally for the purpose of work or study in the future.

There are a number of organisations providing supports for non-EEA nationals in Ireland, such as:

  • The Immigrant Council of Ireland (ICI) supports migrants coming to Ireland for purposes such as work, study, family reunification, self-employment or to visit. ICI provides an information service and a limited legal service to immigrants.
  • The Migrant Rights Centre (MRC) supports migrant workers and their families. The MRC operates a drop-in centre which provides information, advice and assistance.

Further information

Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment

Employment Permits Section

Earlsfort Centre
Lower Hatch Street
Dublin 2
D02 PW01

Opening Hours: Helpline only: Monday to Friday 9:30am - 5pm
Tel: +353 1 417 5333
Locall: 0818 808 090
Fax: +353 1 631 3268

Immigrant Council of Ireland

2 St Andrew Street
Dublin 2

Opening Hours: Information and Referral Service: Mon, Tues, Thurs, Fri 10am - 1pm
Tel: +353 (0)1 674 0200
Fax: +353 (0)1 645 8059

Migrant Rights Centre Ireland

13 Lower Dorset Street
Dublin 1
D01 Y893

Tel: (01) 889 7570

International Organization for Migration

116 Lower Baggot Street
Dublin 2

Tel: +353 (0)1 676 0655
Locall: Freephone: 1800 406 406
Fax: +353 (0)1 676 0656
Page edited: 14 November 2023