How can I bring my non-Irish partner to live in Ireland?
Ask the Experts: I met my boyfriend in America, now we’re considering moving home
Making plans to bring a partner to live in Ireland ... but the wedding can wait
Q: LK, California
I’ve been in California for seven years. I met my partner, an American citizen, here and we are considering moving back to Ireland. We have been living together for four years now. Though we hope to get married sometime in the future, our priority – financially and timewise – for the moment is on planning the move home rather than organising a wedding. What is the status of our relationship, from a legal perspective in Ireland? What are his options for applying for a visa? Is it an expensive and lengthy process? Ideally, we are hoping to move back before the end of the year. If we were to marry before returning, would the process be much easier? He is an IT project manager, so he might be able to apply for a work visa independent of me, though we’d prefer not to be relying on this.
A: Nicola Yau, Crosscare Migrant Project
At present, there is no automatic entitlement for Irish citizens to bring their non-EU family members to live in Ireland. This means that someone who is in a de-facto relationship, in a civil-partnership or married to an Irish citizen, must apply for permission to allow them to live and work in Ireland.
De facto partner
As your partner is an American citizen, he does not need to apply for a visa to come to Ireland. (Others can check whether their partners will need a visa on the Department of Foreign Affairs website.
If they do, they need to apply for a long stay, single-entry (D) visa, and select the “Join Family (Irish nat.)(de facto partner)” option when asked for the reason for travel to Ireland. See the fact sheet on migrantproject.ie for more details. ).
When you arrive in Ireland, make sure you both go through the non-EEA channel in the airport in case the immigration officer has any questions. He should tell the immigration officer that he wants to apply for permission to remain, based on your de-facto relationship. The immigration officer will then stamp his passport for 90 days.
Next, your partner should fill out an Application for Immigration Permission for a De Facto Partner form from the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service’s (INIS) website. There is no charge for making this application. The couple must prove that they have been living together for at least one year on the date of application. This has recently been reduced from two years.
The application takes up to six months to process and it is not possible to work while it is pending. Even if your partner’s 90-day permission expires, it is okay for him to remain in the country as he is waiting for a decision on his application.
During this time, INIS will review your partner’s application. If he is successful, he will get Stamp 4 permission to remain. This will allow him to live and work in Ireland for a set period of time. Your partner will then need to pay €300 for the Certificate of Registration/GNIB card.
Note that if you get married while your de facto partner application is pending, the INIS will consider this a change in your circumstances. Your partner will then need to apply based on being the spouse of an Irish citizen.
Spouse of an Irish citizen
If you get married before coming back to Ireland, then the process is a little different. Make sure you bring your marriage certificate with you when you go through the airport.
Once again, you’ll both need to go through the non-EEA channel at the airport. He should tell the immigration officer that he wants to apply for permission to remain as the spouse of an Irish citizen. This should result in a short term 90-day stamp in his passport.
He will then need to register with the Garda National Immigration Bureau for permission to live and work in Ireland, based on your marriage. If you live in Dublin make an appointment with the Burgh Quay Registration Office. It can take up to 10 weeks to get an appointment, so you might want to book this before you arrive in Ireland.
If you live outside Dublin go to the local Garda District Headquarters. Call to check when the immigration officer is available.
Go together to the Burgh Quay Registration Office or the local Garda District Headquarters. Bring both of your passports, your marriage certificate and proof of your joint address. The application and the Certificate of Registration/GNIB card is free for spouses of Irish citizens.
There is a chance that the immigration officer will ask you to make a written application to the INIS. If this happens, your husband will need to fill in an application form. Download the form from the INIS website. This application can take up to 12 months and he will not be able to work while the application is pending.
Critical Skills Employment Permit
Another option your partner could consider is to apply for an employment permit now. The Department of Enterprise, Jobs and Innovation has a list of Highly Skilled Eligible Occupations. IT project manager is one of the job categories on this list. Critical Skills Employment Permit holders have Stamp 1 permission to remain. They must only work for the employer named on their employment permit. If your partner finds employment, he or his new employer could apply for this permit before he comes to Ireland.
Nicola Yau is Information and Advocacy Officer with Crosscare Migrant Project, which is funded by the Emigrant Support Programme of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. See migrantproject.ie and livinginireland.ie for more information