Critical Skills Visa programmes
that offer a pathway to
permanent residency

Many countries worldwide offer dedicated immigration routes for migrants who hold specific, highly sought-after skills, allowing them to live and work as Expats. These countries also offer visas with a pathway to permanent residency as a means of attracting those with critical skills and experience that may be in short supply locally, to fill a particular demand.

Generally, countries offer two main paths to access critical skills visas and skilled migration programmes.

  • The most common way is for a local company in that country to sponsor the applicant in the form an employment offer.
  • The second visa type does not require a job offer. Once you have a visa, you can live and work in that country without being restricted to a sponsoring company.

In this article, we outline three examples of such programmes on offer in the UK, Ireland and Germany.

United Kingdom

The UK Global Talent Visa replaced the Tier 1 Exceptional Talent visa in February 2020. This critical skills visa aims to attract top tier talent in limited fields. You must have the required skills and must obtain an endorsement form one of six approved endorsing bodies in one of the following fields:

  • Academia or research
  • Arts and culture
  • Digital technology

The great advantage of this programme is that it does not tie you to any one employer. Your family is also included under the visa.

This critical skills visa is valid for up to five years and be extended indefinitely. You can apply for permanent residency after three to five years.


To apply for the Irish Critical Skills visa, you need a job that pays a minimum of 64,000 Euros per annum. You also need to have appropriate experience, skills and qualifications for the role.

However, if your occupation falls under Highly Skilled Occupations list, then a lower salary requirement of 32,000 Euros per annum will be required to qualify under this category.

Your job offer needs to be for a minimum of two years to apply for the permit. On completion of two years on the Critical Skills Permit category, you can apply for a Stamp 4 immigration permission which allows you to live and work permanently in Ireland. You can apply for permanent residency after five consecutive years.


The Skilled Migration Act expands the framework under which qualified professionals from non-EU countries can come to work in Germany.

This new law makes it easier to access the German labour market by allowing you to enter Germany and search for jobs for up to six months. As with many German immigration pathways, you also have to have some German language capability.

You can apply for a EU Blue card if you have appropriate qualifications and have a confirmed employment offer in Germany including annual gross earnings of at least 55,200 Euros per annum. After 33 months, holders of the EU Blue Card may obtain a settlement permit. In some cases, a settlement permit can be issued after 21 months.

Professional advice on Critical Skills Visa programmes

Whether you are simply curious or have a proposed move in place, rest assured that SSW are able to provide full support with Critical Skills visa queries. With the help of our global network, we are able to navigate international law and assist with the processing of this visa route and ensure that local immigration rules are met thereafter.

To speak to an advisor, please contact us today.

Share story
Back to top of page