If you move to Ireland for whatever reason, you may be able to bring your family members to live with you. Your rights in this respect depend on your nationality and on the type of residence entitlement you have. Your family members’ right to stay in Ireland depends on your entitlement. They may of course, acquire an entitlement in their own right.
A foreign national who marries or enters into a civil partnership with an Irish citizen does not have an automatic entitlement to live in Ireland. Your spouse or civil partner is governed by the same rules as apply to all foreign nationals. You can find a leaflet on residency information for family members and partners of Irish citizens (pdf) on the website of Crosscare Migrant Project.
If you are an EU/EEA or Swiss citizen living in Ireland, then you have the right to bring certain family members to live with you here even if they are not themselves EU/EEA or Swiss citizens. The main EU legislation at present is set out in Regulation No 1612/58 and Directive 2004/38/EC (pdf). The 2004 Directive is implemented in Ireland by the European Communities (Free Movement of Persons) Regulations 2006 and 2008. 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).
Most of the EU law on free movement also applies to citizens of the other EEA countries – Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein. There are agreements with Switzerland which mean that Swiss nationals are treated in broadly the same way as EU nationals.
Family members are:
Other family members who do not have an absolute right may be able to move to Ireland. The Directive requires member states to facilitate the entry and residence of:
The immigration authorities are required to undertake an extensive examination of the personal circumstances in these cases and must justify any refusal of entry or residence.
In general, your family members retain the right to live here if you die or if they cease to be a spouse or civil partner. You are entitled to permanent residence after 5 years. Your family members have the same entitlement.
If you are granted refugee status or you are a Programme refugee or you are granted leave to remain on humanitarian grounds, you may apply for members of your family to be given permission to come and live in Ireland. In general, the Minister for Justice and Equality must grant permission to your spouse, civil partner and dependent children aged under 18. If you are under 18, permission must be granted to your parents. The Minister has discretion to grant permission to other dependent members of your family.
If you are from outside the EU/EEA or Switzerland, then your right to have family members come to live with you depends on the rules governing your presence in Ireland. At present, there is no legislation governing rights of residence for this group. The description here is of the current administrative arrangements. It is open to you to apply to the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) for anyone (including a partner) to be allowed join you in Ireland - see 'How to apply' below.
Family members are generally spouses, civil partners and children under the age of 18. It is not the general policy to allow dependants over the age of 18 to join you in Ireland. You may be able to make a case as to why you should be an exception to this general rule.
Your family members’ right to remain in Ireland depends on your right to remain. They may of course, become entitled to a right of residence in their own right, for example, by getting a Critical Skills or General Employment Permit.
If you have a Critical Skills Employment Permit, you may bring your family to live with you in Ireland immediately. Your spouse, civil partner and dependants may then get Dependant/Partner/Spousal Employment Permits.
If you have a General Employment Permit, you may be able to bring your family to live here after you have been legally working here for a year. You also have to be able to show that you will be able to support them. In practice, you need to be earning an income above the limits for Family Income Supplement. Your spouse, civil partner and dependants aged under 18 may apply for a General Employment Permit once they are legally resident in Ireland.
It is not the general policy to allow family members to join students who are in Ireland as students. You may be able to make a case as to why you should be an exception to this general rule.
Parents of Irish-born children
If you have been granted residence in Ireland under the Irish Born Child Scheme (pdf), it is not the general policy to allow family members to come and live with you. You may be able to make a case as to why you should be an exception to this general rule.
The Civil Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2011 (section 34) (pdf) 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.
For a visa for a non-EEA national family member: You must apply for a visa online. There are INIS guidelines about visa requirements for family reunification for workers (pdf).
For a residence card for a non-EEA national family member, apply using 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 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 application form EU 3 (pdf).
Completed application forms should be returned to the EU Treaty Rights Section of the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS).
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) - see 'Where to apply' below. Outside Dublin this is at your local Garda District Headquarters. If you are in a de facto relationship you can find information about permission to remain on the INIS website.
You can read more about non-EEA family reunification in the policy guidelines (pdf) available on the INIS website.
Department of Justice and Equality
Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service
13/14 Burgh Quay
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.