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Residence rights of EU/EEA nationals in Ireland

Information

If you are a national of the European Union (EU), of one of the other EEA member states (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway) or of Switzerland, you have the right to stay in Ireland, and your family members have the right to stay here also. There are some limits to this right, however.

You can stay in Ireland for up to 3 months without restriction. If you plan to stay more than 3 months, you must either:

  • Be engaged in economic activity (employed or self employed) or
  • Have sufficient resources and sickness insurance to ensure that you do not become a burden on the social services of Ireland or
  • Be enrolled as a student or vocational trainee or
  • Be a family member of a Union citizen in one of the previous categories.

When you come to Ireland you do not need to register with the local immigration officer and you do not need a residence card to live here. If you wish to have a record of your residence in Ireland you can register with your embassy of your country in Ireland.

Parents of Irish citizen children

On 8 March 2011 the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled in the Zambrano case C 34/09, that an EU member state may not refuse the non-EU parents of a dependent child who is a citizen of, and resident in, an EU member state the right to live and work in that member state.

The Department of Justice and Equality is examining the cases of non-EEA parents of Irish citizen minor children which may meet the criteria specified in the Zambrano judgment.

Seeking employment in Ireland

If you are an EU/EEA national, you can stay in Ireland if you are unemployed and looking for work. You can transfer your unemployment benefit from your country of origin and it will be paid to you in Ireland for up to 3 months (can be up to 6 months in some cases). After that period, you may qualify for Jobseeker's Allowance if you satisfy the conditions, which include an Habitual Residence Condition.

Residence rights for your family

If you are a national of an EU member state, or of Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland, your family, whatever their nationality, also have the right to live with you in Ireland. Your "family" is defined as your spouse, civil partner, children under 21 and other children who are dependent on you and their spouses or civil partners, your parents and your spouse or civil partner's parents, if they are also dependent on you.

The European Communities (Free Movement of Persons) Regulations 2006 and 2008 transpose EU Directive 2004/38/EC (pdf) into Irish law. The Directive allows for a wider definition of family members.

The wider definition of family member means:

  • Your registered partner (and dependent relatives) is also entitled to move with you if the host member state treats registered partnerships as equivalent to marriage. In Ireland civil partnership is equivalent to marriage for immigration purposes.
  • The host member state must facilitate the entry and residence of other family members who do not have an absolute right to move but who are dependent on you or whose health is such that they require care by you. Member states must also facilitate the entry and residence of a partner with whom you have a durable relationship.

You can find more information about these EU Treaty Rights on the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service website. The Immigrant Council of Ireland has published a leaflet on family reunification for family members of EU citizens (pdf).

If your family members are not nationals of the EU or EEA, they will need to apply for residence cards and may also need entry visas. There is no fee for the residence card. They will also need to register with the Garda Síochána and receive an Immigration Certificate of Registration (usually called a GNIB card). As dependants of an EU citizen, they will be exempt from the fee for this certificate.

Limitations on the right of residence

You or a family member may be asked to leave the State if you act in such a way as to be a danger to public order or security. Having a criminal record is not, in itself, grounds to be asked to leave. You may also be asked to leave on public health grounds.

You must be told reasons for the decision and given time to prepare an appeal.

Permanent residence

These Regulations also introduce a new right of permanent residence for EU nationals and their family members after a five-year period of uninterrupted legal residence in the State.

Requirement to produce identity documents

Section 34 of the Civil Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2011 provides that non-EEA nationals arriving in the State must present a passport or equivalent document when asked for it by an immigration officer. (Previously, it was not specifically stated that they had to present it.)

It also requires non-EEA nationals who are present in the State to provide such a document or a registration certificate on demand to the Minister, an immigration officer or a Garda, if asked to do so to prove that they comply with their permission to remain in the State. This requirement does not apply to people under 16 years of age, but it does now apply to non-EEA nationals who were born in Ireland.

Section 34 does not apply to people who are exercising EU Treaty Rights of free movement. However, anyone seeking to enter or live in the State on the basis of being an EU/EEA national or a dependant of an EU/EEA national is still required to provide satisfactory evidence of identity and nationality to establish that basis.

Rates

There is no charge for a residence card for a non-EEA national family member, for a permanent residence certificate or for a permanent residence card.

Non-EEA national family members who receive a residence permit under EU Directive 38/04 are exempt from the general fee for the Immigration Certificate of Registration - GNIB card.

How to apply

Visa:

For a visa for a non-EEA national family member, you must apply for a visa online.

EU Regulations:

For a residence card for a non-EEA national family member apply using the application form EU 1 (pdf) and explanatory leaflet (pdf).

For a permanent residence certificate for an EU citizen who has lived in the State for 5 years apply using the application form EU 2 (pdf) and explanatory leaflet (pdf)

For a permanent residence card for a family member who has lived in the State for 5 years apply using the application form EU 3 (pdf) and explanatory leaflet (pdf)

Completed application forms should be returned to the EU Treaty Rights Section of the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS). There is a list of frequently asked questions about the EU Treaty Rights on the INIS website.

If your EU 1, EU 2 or EU 3 application has been refused you can request a review of this decision using form EU 4 (pdf) and explanatory leaflet (pdf).

Following divorce or annulment or the death or departure of the EU citizen, a holder of an EU1 residence card can apply to retain a residence card using application form EU5 (pdf) and explanatory leaflet (pdf).

For an Immigration Certificate of Registration:

Apply to your local immigration registration officer. In Dublin this is the Garda National Immigration Bureau (GNIB). Outside Dublin this is at your local Garda District Headquarters.

Where to apply

EU Treaty Rights Section

Department of Justice and Equality
Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service
13/14 Burgh Quay
Dublin 2
Ireland

Email: eutreatyrights@justice.ie

Garda National Immigration Bureau

13/14 Burgh Quay
Dublin 2
Ireland

Opening Hours:Mon to Thurs inclusive: 8am to 9pm, Friday 8am to 6pm
Tel:+353 1 666 9100
Homepage: http://www.garda.ie/Controller.aspx?Page=31
Email: gnib_dv@garda.ie

Page updated: 29 January 2014

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If you have a question relating to this topic you can contact the Citizens Information Phone Service on 0761 07 4000 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 8pm) or you can visit your local Citizens Information Centre.