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Residence rights of non-EEA nationals in Ireland

Information

If you are not a citizen of the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland, there are various forms of residence rights (permission to remain) that allow you to live in Ireland. (The European Economic Area consists of the European Union member states, Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein.)

Permission to remain

Permission to remain in Ireland is granted by the Department of Justice and Equality and consists of a special stamp endorsed on your passport. This is usually called a residence stamp. The various types of stamp and their meanings are covered in detail in the Rules section of this document.

If you are granted permission to remain, a Certificate of Registration is endorsed on your passport by the Garda National Immigration Bureau (GNIB) or the local Garda registration office - see ‘How to apply’ below.

Depending on the circumstances, members of your family may be able to come to Ireland with you, or to join you when you are here.

Syrian Humanitarian Admission Programme

The Syrian Humanitarian Admission Programme (SHAP) allowed naturalised Irish citizens of Syrian birth and legally resident Syrian nationals apply for vulnerable close family members to join them in Ireland on a temporary basis for up to 2 years. There is a list of frequently asked questions (pdf) are on inis.gov.ie and the closing date for applications was 30 April 2014.

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. If they meet the Zambrano criteria, the non-EEA parents may be given permission to live and work in Ireland without the requirement for an employment permit or business permission. There is a list of frequently asked questions about the Zambrano judgement on the website of the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS).

Proposed changes to immigration law

The Immigration, Residence and Protection Bill 2010 (pdf) is to replace the present immigration legislation. Its provisions will put administrative procedures such as visa applications and long-term residence (see below) into legislation. Other proposed changes include a new integrated process of application for protection to replace applications for refugee status, subsidiary protection and leave to remain.

Rules

Documentation

If you are a non-EEA national and intend to come to live in Ireland, there are several important pieces of documentation that you will need before coming here. These documents include:

  • Your passport: which must be valid for at least the duration of your proposed stay
  • The relevant visa: if you are a citizen of a visa-required country
  • An employment permit, business visa or business permission: if you intend to work or engage in business in Ireland

An immigration officer will examine your documentation when you present yourself at the point of entry to Ireland. You may be asked to show evidence that you have enough funds to support yourself and any dependants for the duration of your proposed stay. You may also be required to answer other questions relevant to your application for permission to remain. The onus rests with you to satisfy the immigration officer as to the genuine reason for your presence in Ireland. In other words, you must satisfy them that your credentials are authentic.

Requirement to produce identity documents

The Civil Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2011 (section 34) 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.

Certificate of Registration

If everything is in order, the immigration officer will place the appropriate stamp on your passport. If your stay is for longer than 3 months, you will have to register with the Garda National Immigration Bureau (GNIB) or your local immigration office who will issue you with a GNIB Certificate of Registration (also known as a GNIB card). It is the same size as a credit card and will show what type of residence stamp you hold.

Depending on your nationality and your legal status in Ireland, this card may also function as a residence card, or residence document – see below. It is not an identity document: it is just a certificate that you have registered with the Garda Síochána as required by Irish immigration law.

Family members

Your right to have family members come to live with you depends on the rules governing your presence in Ireland. For example, if you have a work permit, you may be able to bring your family to live here after you have been legally working here for a year. You must also be able to show that you can support them without recourse to public funds. In practice, this means that you have enough money to support them without qualifying for Family Income Supplement (FIS). This payment depends on your income and the number of dependants you have.

You can read more in our document on residence rights for family members.

Employment permit holders

If you have an employment permit, you have permission to remain in Ireland for as long as your employment permit is valid. You will get a stamp number 1 on your passport. This stamp gives you permission to remain on condition that you do not enter any employment unless you or your employer have obtained an employment permit.

Business permission holders

You will need a business permission if you wish to establish or engage in business in Ireland. A business permission is granted for 1 year initially. If you have a business permission, you will also get a stamp number 1 on your passport. This stamp gives you permission to remain for as long as your business permission is valid.

Investors and entrepreneurs

There are 2 new initiatives for non-EEA investors and entrepreneurs as follows:

Successful applicants to both programmes will be granted a residence permission for 2 years initially. The programmes are open to applications from 16 April 2012 - see 'How to apply' below.

Students

Since 1 January 2011 there are changes to the immigration system for non-EEA students. If you are a non-EEA national coming to study in Ireland you must be enrolled in a full-time course under the Degree Programme or the Language and Non-Degree Programme. There are details of transitional arrangements for students already in Ireland who are affected by these changes and guidelines for students who require a visa on the INIS website.

If you are attending a course on the Internationalisation Register under one of the above programmes you will have stamp number 2 endorsed on your passport. You will be allowed to take up casual employment of up to 20 hours part-time work per week in term time or up to 40 hours per week during normal college vacation periods. The stamp will be valid until you have finished your course of study and your entitlement to take up employment ceases when your permission to remain expires.

If you are not attending such a course, you will not be entitled to take up part-time work or engage in any business or profession. You will get stamp number 2A on your passport. This stamp gives you permission to remain until you have finished your course.

Third Level Graduate Scheme: Non-EEA students who have graduated with a degree at level 7 to 10 from an Irish third-level institution and have a current GNIB Certificate of Registration may be permitted to apply for the Third Level Graduate Scheme (pdf). Those who have a level 7 degree will be granted a non-renewable extension of their current student permission (Stamp 2) for 6 months starting on the date upon which the person receives their examination results. Those with a degree at level 8, 9 or 10 will be granted a 12-month extension. The purpose of the permission to remain under this scheme is to seek employment and gain a Green Card or work permit.

Spouse or civil partner of an Irish national

If you are a non-EEA national married to, or in a recognised civil partnership with, an Irish national you do not have an automatic right to live in Ireland. Depending on your current immigration status, you apply for permission to live in Ireland as follows:

  • If you currently have permission to live in Ireland, you should go with your Irish national spouse or civil partner to register with the GNIB or your local immigration officer as the spouse or civil partner of an Irish national.

Or

  • If you do not have permission to live in Ireland, you must apply in writing to the Marriage to Irish National Section of the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) - see 'Where to apply' below.

You can find details of the application procedures for spouses and civil partners of Irish nationals on the INIS website. Once you have permission to live in Ireland on the basis of marriage or civil partnership with an Irish national you may get a stamp 4 on your passport - see 'People who are allowed to work in Ireland - other eligible categories' below.

De facto relationships

Non-EEA nationals who are in de facto relationships must have permission to remain in the State. They can apply for a de facto partnership immigration permission (DFPIP) as follows:

  • A non-EEA national whose partner is an Irish national must provide proof of a durable relationship of at least 2 years. If the non-EEA national is granted permission to remain they are not required to have a work permit.
  • If you are a non-EEA national whose partner is an EU national you can apply for a residence card if you have proof of a durable relationship of at least 2 years. If you are granted permission to remain you will not need a work permit.
  • A non-EEA national whose partner is also a non-EEA national must provide evidence of a durable relationship of at least 2 years and must have an employment permit in order to work. The non-EEA national partner (the sponsor) must have a Stamp 1, 4 or 5 residence permission. Non-EEA nationals with Stamp 2 or 3 permission are not eligible to be sponsors.

You can find the guidelines for applicants, details of the evidence to be submitted and a list of frequently asked questions on inis.gov.ie. For further information contact INISdefacto@justice.ie.

Victims of human trafficking

A non-EEA national who has been identified as a suspected victim of human trafficking may be granted permission to remain in Ireland for up to 60 days. In certain cases such a non-EEA national may be granted further periods of temporary residence in Ireland - see 'Further information' below.

Victims of domestic violence

Some foreign nationals who are victims of domestic violence may currently have an immigration status which is dependent on the person carrying out the domestic violence. In these cases the foreign national may apply for independent immigration status as a victim of domestic violence. You can read the immigration guidelines for victims of domestic violence (pdf) on the INIS website.

People who are not allowed to work in Ireland

If you are coming to Ireland as a visitor, a tourist, the spouse, civil partner or dependant of an employment permit holder, as a retired person, or in order to receive medical treatment, you will get a stamp number 3 on your passport.

If you have a stamp 3 you will not be entitled to work or engage in any business or profession while in Ireland. The length of time that this stamp is valid will depend on your circumstances. Guidelines to the immigration arrangements for ministers of religion and lay volunteers are on the INIS website. For further information contact Unit2ResidenceDivision@justice.ie.

Once they are legally resident in the State, spouses, civil partners and dependants of Green Card permit holders or work permit holders whose first work permit application was before 1 June 2009, can apply for a spousal/dependant work permit. If the work permit holder’s first application was on or after 1 June 2009, their spouse, civil partner or dependant must apply for a work permit in their own right.

People who are allowed to work in Ireland

EU Treaty Rights

If you are a non-EEA family member of an EEA or Swiss citizen, who meets the requirements as laid out in the European Communities (Free Movement of Persons) Regulations 2006 and 2008, you must apply to the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) for permission to remain under EU Treaty Rights – see ‘How to apply’ below.

When you register with the GNIB or your local registration office the Certificate of Registration that you receive will be a residence card with the wording 4 EU FAM (that is, the residence card of a family member of an EU citizen). As a holder of this card 4 EU FAM, you will be visa-exempt even if you are a visa-required national and you do not need an employment permit or business permission.

Employment permit for 5 years

If you have worked on a work permit for 5 consecutive years you will no longer need a permit to work in Ireland. You should apply to your local immigration officer – see ‘How to apply’ below – who will issue you with a stamp 4 immigration permission for one year. This permission may be renewed annually and it will allow you to take up any employment or self-employment. Further details about this immigration permission are available on the INIS website.

Other eligible categories

If you are in Ireland as the spouse, civil partner or dependant of an Irish or other EEA national, or of a Swiss national, you will get a stamp 4, which means that you will not need an employment permit or business permission. When you register with the local immigration office, the Certificate of Registration (GNIB card) that you receive will be a residence document.

You will also get stamp 4 if you come under one of the following categories: Convention or Programme refugees; former asylum seekers granted leave to remain.

This stamp also applies if you are on an intra-company transfer. The length of time that this stamp is valid will depend on your circumstances.

All non-EEA doctors registering with their local immigration office on or after 1 March 2014, whether for the first time or renewing their immigration permission, must have an employment permit. Their stamp 1 immigration permission will be for 6 months or 12 months subject to the duration of their employment contract. Doctors who already have stamp 4 can have their stamp 4 renewed for 2 years. You can read about the immigration arrangements for non-EEA doctors, including locum doctors, on the INIS website.

Long-term residence rights

Depending on your circumstances, you can acquire long-term residence rights if you have been legally resident in Ireland for 5 years or more. You will still need to register with the Garda authorities and obtain a GNIB card.

If you have been here on the basis of work permit conditions for over 5 years, you may apply for long term residency for a further 5 years. Your spouse or civil partner and dependants may also apply for long-term residency if they have been legally resident in Ireland for at least 5 years. If you are successful you will get a stamp number 4 on your passport for 5 years and you will no longer need a permit to work in Ireland. Your dependants will get a stamp number 3 and will still be required to have an employment permit. For further information contact INISLongTermRes@justice.ie.

Otherwise, if you have been legally resident for over 8 years (but not as a student or an asylum-seeker) you may apply for stamp number 5 on your passport, which gives you permission to remain in Ireland "without condition as to time”. You will be entitled to work or engage in a business or profession while in Ireland. This stamp lasts until the expiry date of your passport, and can be renewed when you get a new passport. For further information contact INISStamp5and6@justice.ie.

If you have a stamp 4 EU-FAM on your passport, you may apply for a permanent residence card after 5 years in the State – see ‘How to apply’ below. If successful you will be issued with a permanent residence card for 5 years.

It is also possible to apply for Irish citizenship through naturalisation after you have built up 5 years of reckonable residence for citizenship purposes. The residence requirements for citizenship through marriage to or civil partnership with an Irish citizen are more lenient.

Rates

Since 19 November 2012 there is a fee of €300 (€150 previously) for the Certificate of Registration, but you do not have to pay a fee if you are:

  • A Programme refugee
  • A Convention refugee
  • A person who has been reunified with such a refugee under Section 18 of the Refugee Act 1996
  • Under the age of 18 at the time of registration
  • The spouse, civil partner, widow, widower or surviving civil partner of an Irish citizen
  • A family member of an EU national and you qualify for a residence card under the European Communities (Free Movement of Persons) Regulations 2006 and 2008

Long Term Residency: Under the Long Term Residency (Fees) Regulations 2009 you must pay a fee of €500 when you are granted Long Term Residency.

How to apply

If you are staying in Ireland for longer than 3 months you should go to your local immigration registration office. Ask for the registration officer as soon as possible following your arrival in Ireland. Within the Dublin area, the registration office is the Garda National Immigration Bureau (GNIB) - see 'Where to apply' below. Outside Dublin, it is the local Garda District Headquarters.

EU Treaty Rights

If you are a non-EEA family member of an EU citizen who meets the requirements as laid out in the European Communities (Free Movement of Persons) Regulations 2006 and 2008 you must apply to the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) using form EU 1 (pdf) and explanatory leaflet (pdf) to have your case processed. If you are a person to whom the Regulations apply you will get a letter from INIS telling you to register with your local immigration registration office where you will receive your residence card with the wording 4 EU FAM.

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 question about EU Treaty Rights on the INIS website.

Investor and entrepreneur programmes

You apply for the Immigrant Investor Programme using the investor application form (pdf) and guidelines (pdf). Applications for the Start-up Entrepreneur Programme should be made using the entrepreneur application form (pdf) and guidelines (pdf).

Where to apply

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

Further information

Victims of human trafficking – permission to remain in Ireland

A non-EEA national who has been identified as a suspected victim of human trafficking may be granted permission to remain in Ireland for up to 60 days. This permission allows the non-EEA national to live legally in Ireland during this period for “recovery and reflection” – see below. The person must have been identified as a suspected victim by a superintendent or higher-ranked Garda in the Garda National Immigration Bureau (GNIB). After the initial 60 days, in some circumstances, the suspected victim may be granted further permission to remain, known as temporary residence permission – see below. These administrative arrangements for suspected victims of human trafficking came into effect on 7 June 2008. Full details are in Administrative Immigration Arrangements for the Protection of Victims of Human Trafficking (pdf) on the website of the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS).

Period of recovery and reflection

The 60-day permission to remain for recovery and reflection allows the suspected victim:

  • Time to recover
  • To escape from the person who is suspected of trafficking
  • Time to decide whether to assist with the investigation or prosecution of the trafficking

Temporary residence permission

After the initial 60-day period, the suspected victim may be granted temporary residence permission for up to 6 months if:

  • All contact with the suspected trafficker has ended

And

  • The residence permission is needed to allow the suspected victim to assist with the investigation or prosecution of the trafficking

Ending of permission to remain

In certain circumstances, these permissions to remain may be ended if, for example, the non-EEA national:

  • Is making a false claim to be a victim of trafficking

Or

  • Has voluntarily renewed contact with the person suspected of the trafficking

Neither of the above permissions to remain gives the non-EEA national any right to long-term residence.

Blue Blindfold

The Blue Blindfold campaign aims to raise awareness of the problem of human trafficking and to encourage everyone to report suspicions to the Gardai, either through the Crimestoppers number 1800 250 025 or at a dedicated email, blueblindfold@garda.ie. You can find out more about human trafficking on the Blue Blindfold website.

Page updated: 11 August 2014

Language

Gaeilge

Related Documents

Contact Us

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.