Summary: Special restrictions apply to Bulgarian and Romanian citizens in taking up employment in the State. They are required to obtain an Employment Permit unless they were lawfully resident in the State on stamp 1 or stamp 4 permission prior to the 31st December 2006.
Since the 1st January 2007, Bulgaria and Romania have been members of the EU, and their citizens are thus covered by the provisions of the European Free Movement of Persons Law, namely Directive 2004/38. Therefore, Bulgarian and Romanian citizens may reside in the State for a period of over three months if they are exercising their EU Treaty Rights by way of employment, self employment, study or joining another EU national as a family member.
However, the Commission permitted the Member States to implement special restrictions on the rights of Bulgarian and Romanian citizens to take up employment within the States. In Ireland, the restrictions implemented are as follows:
In order to lawfully work in the State, Romanian and Bulgarian nationals continue to be subject to the requirements of work permits. This requirement will not apply in the case of –
Bulgarian/Romanian nationals already exempt by virtue of their existing residence status (in particular those with a Stamp 4 on their passports) Bulgarian/Romanian nationals who have been working legally (i.e. with work permit or work authorisation) for a 12 month period prior to the 31st December 2006.
Bulgarian/Romanian nationals who are married to an Irish citizen. As the regulations in respect of Bulgarian and Romanian nationals derive from EU law, the following guidelines from the Commission are of relevance:
From 1 January 2007 to 1 January 2009 The existing Member States (including the 10 who joined in 2004) were allowed to apply restrictions on the free movement of Romanian and Bulgarian nationals without the requirement to notify the Commission of their intention to do so. Ireland chose to impose such restrictions by requiring citizens of Bulgaria and Romania to continue to be subject to the work permit requirements which applied before they joined the EU. However, those who had been working in Ireland on a work permit for a continuous period of 12 months or more prior to 31 December 2006 were exempt from this requirement.
From 1 January 2009 to 1 January 2012 to January 2014 Member States are entitled to continue the restrictions or may remove them at their individual discretion. The Commission recommended that full free movement should apply from January 2012. However, an original member state may request permission from the Commission to continue the restrictions for a further two years if it is experiencing serious disturbances in its labour market. The Commission has recommended that there will be complete freedom of movement for Bulgarian and Romanian nationals from January 2014.