Types of residence permission for non-EEA nationals

Introduction

If you are not a citizen of the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland, there are various types of residence rights or permission to remain that allow you to live in Ireland. Permission to remain 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 below.

You can read more about the general rules on residence in our document on residence rights for non-EEA nationals. The Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) also publishes extensive information on its website, inis.gov.ie.

General types

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.

Investors and entrepreneurs

The Immigrant Investor Programme provides investment options (with a minimum investment of €1 million) which allow 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 €50,000 to come and set up a business in Ireland. This scheme does not apply to retail, catering, personal services or similar businesses.

Successful applicants to both programmes will be granted a residence permission for 2 years initially. You can read more in our document, Coming to set up a business or invest in Ireland.

Business permission

A business permission scheme that allowed you to start a retail, catering, personal services or similar business was open until 16 March 2016. It is no longer in operation. If you were granted permission before this scheme ended, you will find information about applying for a renewal on the INIS website.

Students

If you are a non-EEA national coming to study in Ireland you must be enrolled in a full-time course on the Interim List of Eligible Programmes (ILEP). If you are attending a course on the ILEP 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 holiday periods (June to September and 15 December to 15 January). If you are not attending a course on the Interim List of Eligible Programmes, 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.

Third Level Graduate Scheme: Non-EEA students who have graduated with a degree at level 8 or above from an Irish third-level institution and have a current Certificate of Registration may be permitted to apply for the Third Level Graduate Scheme. This scheme provides an extension of their permission to remain for 12 or 24 months to allow them to seek employment and obtain a Critical Skills Employment Permit or General Employment Permit. If they are granted permission to remain, they will get stamp 1G.

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 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 – see 'Where to apply' below.

You can find details of the application procedures for spouses and civil partners of Irish nationals on inis.gov.ie. 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 and you do not need an employment permit or business permission.

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 2015, you must apply to the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service for permission to remain under EU Treaty Rights.

When you register with 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.

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.

A non-EEA national whose partner is an Irish national or an Irish resident must provide proof of cohabitation of at least 2 years. If the resident is a non-EEA national, they must have a stamp 1, 4 or 5 residence permission to sponsor an application. Non-EEA nationals with stamp 2 or 3 permission are not eligible to be sponsors.

You can find the application form, the guidelines for applicants, details of the evidence to be submitted and a list of frequently asked questions on the website inis.gov.ie.

If you are a non-EEA national whose partner is an EU national (but not an Irish national) you can apply for a residence card under EU Treaty Rights if you have proof of living together in a durable relationship of at least 2 years.

Visitors and others who are not allowed to work

If you are coming to Ireland as a visitor, a tourist, the spouse, civil partner or dependant of an employment permit holder, or in order to receive medical treatment, you will get a stamp number 3 on your passport. (However, a spouse or de-facto partner of a Critical Skills Employment Permit holder can get stamp number 1 on their passport which allows them to work.)

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 inis.gov.ie For further information contact Unit2ResidenceDivision@justice.ie.

Special situations

Doctors

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 inis.gov.ie.

Stamp 0

The immigration permission stamp 0 is granted to people who are coming to Ireland for a limited and specific stay. They must be self-sufficient and may not get State benefits if they have stamp 0 permission. They include:

  • Visiting academics: They may work here for less than 9 months and must be paid from outside the State
  • Older dependent relatives: The financial criteria to sponsor an older dependent relative are set out in Chapter 18 of the family reunification policy document (pdf)
  • Persons of independent means: They must have an annual income of at least €50,000 and access to a lump sum to cover any unforeseen large expenses

More information about the stamp 0 permission is available on inis.gov.ie.

Parents of Irish citizen children

Under the Irish Born Child Scheme (IBC/05) a number of non-EEA national parents of children born in the State prior to 1 January 2005 were granted permission to remain for an initial period of 2 years. Many of them had their permission to remain extended subject to certain conditions in 2007, 2010 and 2013.

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. Non-EEA parents who meet the Zambrano criteria may be given permission to live and work in Ireland without the requirement for an employment permit or business permission.

From 1 October 2015, there is a new application procedure for non-EEA parents applying for permission to remain based on parentage of an Irish citizen child.

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).

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.

The person must have been identified as a suspected victim by a superintendent or higher-ranked Garda in the Garda National Immigration Bureau (GNIB). Full details are in Administrative Immigration Arrangements for the Protection of Victims of Human Trafficking (pdf).

Page edited: 25 June 2019