You can come for 90 days at a time without any visa or job. Go back to Canada for 90 days, then you can return again.
Non-EU citizens are specifically forbidden to apply for a work permit or green card for the type of job you suggest. You can read the bad news at the Dept. of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation web site - www.djei.ie . Look on the home page for the work permit link. That's a long title for a department that doesn't have any jobs on offer and is short of innovation.
You can come and live in Ireland IF you can prove that you have enough money to support yourself without working. You'll have to have proof of medical insurance that covers you while here. You can get relatively cheap backpackers insurance for a maximum of a year for a couple of hundred dollars. You would pay the bills upfront except for major major hospitalisation, then get reimbursed.
If you have Irish parents or even grandparents you can investigate applying for Irish citizenship. Details on the free site - www.movetoireland.com - then onto the Passports and Paperwork button, then the citizenship page.
There is a working holiday programme if you've recently graduated from high school or college and are under 30 that allows you to live and work here for a year. Here are the details from the Work section, Work Permit page of the free site:
Citizens of Argentina, Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Japan, New Zealand and the Republic of Korea.
Lucky you. You may come to Ireland with a Working Holiday Authorisation. This special visa allows you to live and work in the Emerald Isle for 12 months.
Once you arrive in Ireland, register at your local Garda/Police station. Your Working Holiday Visa will be stamped and you then are free to live in Ireland for one year. An important note: you must get the Working Holiday Visa first! The Garda do not issue them. So some pre-planning is necessary.
If you get a job, well and good. If you don't get a job, well and good. You're still entitled to live here for 12 months. No further work permit is required. Rules differ. For instance, New Zealanders may work for 12 months with a single employer, but Australians are entitled to work for only 6 months with a single employer. But, even if you only get work for 6 months, you still may reside in Ireland for 12.
This is a once in a lifetime thing. You cannot just keep applying for it. You get a Working Holiday Authorisation once. If you want to stay longer, then like everyone else you are required to get an employer to sponsor you to stay in Ireland more than the 12 months.
Please note that several of these programmes are restricted in numbers. For instance, only 400 Working Holiday visas are issued to South Koreans, 100 to Argentinians, 100 to Hong Kong residents, etc. Assuming you fit the age profile and can provide the necessary documentation, these permits are granted on a first come - first served basis. So get going. Now!
This programme keeps being extended to new nations and the rules change at infrequent intervals. The best thing to do is check the website of the Department of Foreign Affairs where they have a page about Working Holidays in Ireland. Or you can send an email to the Dept. of Foreign Affairs at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Danny asked whether he could enter Ireland and tour on the standard visitor's visa (given at the port of entry to all tourists from countries not specifically required to present a visa on entry) before applying for the working holiday authorisation. Would he have to leave the country and re-enter after the normal visitor's visa expires?
The answer is that in most cases, you have to be residing in your own homeland to get the visa. For most of you, the paperwork has to be completed BEFORE arriving in Ireland. Australians are the notable exception. Aussies may apply during their travels. So, Australians are able to enter the country without the holiday work visa in hand and tour for up to 90 days before starting work.
Bad news for the rest of ye. Canadians must have the visa in hand before arriving in Ireland. Similarly, Kiwis must be in New Zealand to apply. Etc. etc. for ye South Koreans, HongKongers, Argentinians and Japanese.
My advice is that whatever your nationality, you should try and get the holiday visa BEFORE you arrive. Processing times may take up to two months. So, don't leave it until your last few days. Bureaucracies are notorious for mislaying or delaying paperwork - especially during the summer vacation time or Christmas holidays.
Ireland's Department of Foreign Affairs
80 St. Stephen's Green Dublin 2 Ireland.
Fax. +353-1-478 5937
Working Holiday Programme page http://www.dfa.ie/home/index.aspx?id=80991
This is probably your best bet. It cannot be renewed.
Then the nuclear option - get married. This cuts the Gordian knot and solves all red tape problems, but of course, opens up a whole new vista of possible problems and fabulous promise. My advice is NOT to get married to get around the red tape, but if you both conclude that this is the way you want to go, then ultimately the red tape sea will part. Not definitely, though, since many couples have still be refused permission to live together in Ireland if the Irish citizen doesn't have the necessary financial resources to support the new spouse.
This last method is how I ended up in Ireland. I married the Irish lass who was foolish enough to say I Do and who's been putting up with me for the last 33 years.
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