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 our document, Types of residence permission for non-EEA nationals.
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 ‘Certificate of Registration below’ 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 – see ‘Family members’ below.
The International Protection Act 2015 (pdf) will provide for a single application procedure for protection which will incorporate incorporate applications for refugee status, subsidiary protection and leave to remain.
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.
Change of immigration status: If you currently have permission to remain and a valid GNIB card, it is possible to apply to change your immigration status.
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 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 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 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.
Once they are legally resident in the State, spouses, recognised partners, civil partners and dependants of holders of Critical Skills Employment Permits, former Green Card permits and researchers can apply for a Dependant/Partner/Spousal Employment Permit.
In general, if you are a non-EEA national you must have an employment permit to work in Ireland. Certain non-EEA students may take up casual work. Also, the following groups of people who have been granted a stamp 4 residence permission do not need permission to work in Ireland.
EU Treaty Rights
If you are a non-EEA family member granted permission to remain under EU Treaty Rights, when you register with your local immigration registration office, you will receive your residence card with wording 4 EU FAM. As a holder of the 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 an employment 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.
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 but you will not need an employment permit.
If you have been here on the basis of employment 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.
There is a fee of €300 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.
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.
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.