Bringing your non-EEA de facto partner home to Ireland
The partner of an Irish citizen does not have an automatic right to stay in Ireland if they are not a national of the European Economic Area (EEA), UK or Switzerland.
If you are returning to Ireland with your non-EEA de facto partner, or you want them to join you in Ireland, your partner will need permission from Immigration Service Delivery (ISD) to live with you in Ireland.
If your partner is a citizen of Ukraine, they do not need a visa or preclearance. You can read coming to Ireland from Ukraine for more information.
Your partner should be aware of processing times for preclearance and visa applications. They are advised not to make any travel arrangements until they get a decision on their visa or preclearance.
This is a step-by-step guide to the immigration process for your de facto partner who does not yet live in Ireland.
If your partner is already living in Ireland, ISD has information on how to apply for a de facto immigration permission.
What is a de facto partner?
A de facto partner is a partner, including a same-sex partner, who you are not married to or in a civil partnership with. Your relationship must meet all of the following criteria:
- You and your partner are in a mutual and committed relationship like a marriage or civil partnership in practice, but not in law
- You have been cohabiting (living together) for at least 2 years
- Your relationship is genuine and continuing
- You are not related to each other by family
Step 1: Fill out a visa or preclearance form online
If your partner is a citizen of a non-EEA country, they may need to apply for a visa before they can travel to Ireland. You can use the ISD website to check if your partner needs a visa.
Your partner must apply from their home country or a country where they are legally resident. They must remain outside of Ireland while their application is processed. If your partner is already living in Ireland, they do not need to apply for a visa. ISD has information on how to apply for a de facto immigration permission if you already living in Ireland.
Partners who need a visa
In their application, they should make it clear that the purpose of the application is to join you, their partner (an Irish national) in Ireland. The ISD website explains how to complete the online application form if your partner needs a visa.
Partners who do not need a visa
Citizens of many countries do not need a visa to enter Ireland (for example, Australia, Canada and the US). Even if your partner does not need a visa, they must still apply for immigration preclearance by completing the online preclearance application form for de facto partners of Irish nationals and submitting all the supporting documentation, along with a non-refundable preclearance application fee.
In their application, they should make it clear that the purpose of the application is to join you, their partner (an Irish national) in Ireland. The ISD website explains how to complete the online application form if your partner requires preclearance.
How do I apply for my children?
Children (under the age of 18 or up to 23 years if in full time education) apply in a similar way to adults using the online form. The parent or legal guardian of the child will need to sign the form once completed and printed. ISD has information on how to apply for child dependents.
Step 2: Send in your application
Whether you are sending in a visa application or a preclearance application, this part of the process is the same.
Once they have completed the online application form (for visa or preclearance), they will need to print it out and sign it. Your partner will need to get together several supporting documents to send in with the application.
Your partner must submit these documents and signed application form within 30 days of submitting the online application. Some embassies and consulates have additional requirements.
The address your partner needs to send the application to depends on where they are living.
At the end of the online application they will be given a summary application form. This will include:
- The address to send the signed form and supporting documents to (usually the Irish Embassy or Consulate nearest to them)
- Details of the fee and how to pay
- The reference number for their application
Checking the progress of the application
Your partner can use their reference number to check the progress of the application. Decisions are published on the ISD website by reference number.
If your partner’s application is refused, they can appeal this decision within 8 weeks of the date of the refusal letter. The appeal process is free and they can appeal once. The appeal should address the reasons for refusal stated in the refusal letter and provide extra supporting documents if possible. The refusal letter will say where your appeal should be sent.
Your partner cannot travel to Ireland until their visa is granted or their preclearance letter is received.
If your partner’s application is approved, this only allows your de facto partner to travel to Ireland. This does not give your de facto partner permission to enter Ireland or to stay here.
The visa or preclearance letter is valid for 6 months. If your partner does not travel to Ireland within these 6 months, they must submit a new application.
Your partner will need their visa or preclearance letter to:
- Cross border control into Ireland and to finalise their permission to enter the State
- Register with immigration after they arrive in Ireland
Step 3: Prepare for Irish border control
All citizens of non-EEA countries, whether they need a visa or preclearance, must go through immigration control when they arrive in Ireland. Your partner should tell the immigration officer at the airport or point of entry that they plan to apply for residency in Ireland, based on their relationship with you.
If your partner is allowed to enter Ireland, the immigration officer will place a landing stamp in their passport. The landing stamp gives them permission to stay in Ireland up to the date indicated or for a maximum of 3 months.
At immigration control, your partner should expect to be asked for the following documents at a minimum:
- Valid passport
- D visa (if they are from a visa-required country)
- Immigration preclearance letter (if they are not from a visa-required country)
You can find a list of other useful documents on the ISD website.
Step 4: Register with immigration and apply for residency
Your partner must be in Ireland before they can register with immigration and apply for residency permission. Your partner only needs to register with immigration if they plan to stay in Ireland for more than 90 days.
Your partner must register in person with an immigration authority as soon as possible after arriving in Ireland. Registration involves formally requesting permission to live and work in Ireland.
You and your partner need to provide the following to register with immigration and apply for residency:
- Your passport (not a photocopy)
- Your partner’s passport (not a photocopy)
- Evidence of your joint address in Ireland
- Official letter granting you permission to join your de facto partner in Ireland
- Documents named in your permission letter
- A registration fee of 300 euro
Where to apply for registration
If you and your partner are living in Dublin, you need to call Freephone 1800 741741 to make an appointment to go to the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service Registration Office at 13/14 Burgh Quay, Dublin 2.
If residency permission is granted
The Registration Officer will put a Stamp 4 in your partner’s passport. Your partner then has permission to live and work in Ireland for the length of time stated on the stamp.
Your partner’s Stamp 4 permission will usually be valid for 1 year. In order to stay in Ireland, your partner will need to renew this permission before it expires.
If residency permission is not granted
If a Stamp 4 is not issued (this can happen if there are any issues that need to be clarified such as identity, criminal history or relationship history), your partner may be asked to make a written application for residency to ISD . Your partner is not entitled to work in Ireland until a Stamp 4 has been issued.
Step 5: After residency permission is granted
Your partner will get a registration certificate called an Irish Residence Permit (IRP). This is a credit-card sized plastic card that displays basic information about the card holder.
After permission is granted, your non-EEA partner must inform ISD of any change of address within 7 days of moving. Also, if their family circumstances change (for example, if your relationship breaks down) they must inform ISD.
ISD has published information on the immigration policy for De Facto Partnership Immigration Permission in Ireland (pdf).
Crosscare Migrant Project has a range of useful resources to help your non-EEA family members join you in Ireland.