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 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.
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.
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).
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
There are 2 new initiatives for non-EEA investors and entrepreneurs as follows:
The Immigrant Investor Programme provides investment options ranging from €500,000 to €2 million which allows approved non-EEA investors and their immediate family enter Ireland on multi-entry visas and remain here for up to 5 years
The Start-up Entrepreneur Programme allows non-EEA participants with an innovative business proposal and funding or financial backing of at least €75,000 to come and set up a business in Ireland. This scheme does not apply to retail, catering, personal services or similar businesses - see 'Business permission holders' above
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.
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.
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:
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.
Non-EEA nationals who are in de facto relationships must have permission to remain in the State as follows:
You can find further information about de facto relationships on the INIS website.
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.
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.
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.
Spouses, civil partners and some dependants of employment permit holders once they are legally resident in the State are free to seek employment and apply for a spousal/dependant work permit.
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
Since 28 August 2009 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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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).
The 60-day permission to remain for recovery and reflection allows the suspected victim:
After the initial 60-day period, the suspected victim may be granted temporary residence permission for up to 6 months if:
In certain circumstances, these permissions to remain may be ended if, for example, the non-EEA national:
Neither of the above permissions to remain gives the non-EEA national any right to long-term residence.
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, firstname.lastname@example.org. You can find out more about human trafficking on the Blue Blindfold website.
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.