- What is family reunification?
- Who is Eligible to be a Sponsor?
- Family Reunification for Irish citizens
- Family Reunification for EU/EEA/Swiss citizens
- Family Reunification Non-EEA Citizens residing in Ireland
- Family Reunification for Refugees/Subsidiary Protection Beneficiaries
- What Documents are needed for the reunification application?
- How long does it take?
- What happens if an application is denied?
- How can Total law help?
- Frequently Asked Questions
What is family reunification?
When non-Irish citizens enter Ireland to reside, they likely leave family members behind in their home country.
Thankfully, in 2013, Ireland set out a Policy document on non-EEA family reunification. This document contains a comprehensive statement of Irish national immigration policy, and the policies outlined apply to all decision-making in the immigration system concerning family reunification cases.
The national immigration policy on family reunification allows non-EEA family members of Irish residents to enter and stay in Ireland for more than 90 days with stamp 4 permission.
Stamp 4 permission allows persons to live and work freely in Ireland without getting a work permit.
Applying for reunification is a two-way process involving;
- A sponsor resident in Ireland; and
- A non-EEA family member of the sponsor
Who is Eligible to be a Sponsor?
The process for family reunification involves two persons – a sponsor who is resident in Ireland; and their non-EEA family member.
A sponsor may be:
- An Irish citizen
- EU/EEA citizens or Swiss citizens resident in Ireland
- UK citizens resident in Ireland
- A non-EEA national resident in Ireland with eligible permits
Per the policy document, each application is handled differently based on the immigration status of the sponsor. The sponsor has to be residing in Ireland when making an application.
It is assumed that sponsors will be responsible for caring for their family members. Hence, decisions on family reunification depend on their relationship with the family member and the financial circumstances of both parties.
Family Reunification for Irish citizens
Irish citizens do not have an automatic right to reunification even with an immediate family member (such as a spouse or child).
The policy document on family reunification makes provisions for Irish citizens to bring their non-EEA family members into the State.
When an Irish citizen applies for reunification, their financial circumstance is considered. Decisions on applications are subject to national decision-makers.
When applying for reunification with an immediate family member such as a spouse or civil partner, child or de facto partner, an Irish citizen must;
- Have earned at least €40,000 before tax over the previous three years combined before the application, for example, €13,334 gross per annum for each year. This does not include any money gotten through state benefits
- Not have been reliant on state benefits for two years before making an application
When applying for elderly parents, the Irish citizen must:
- Have earnings of at least €60,000 after tax for each of the previous three years if bringing in one parent, or €75,000 after tax for each of the previous three years if bringing in both parents. Income from the parent adds to the finances in this case.
- Provide detailed documentary evidence of the relationship history and their parents’ dependence on them.
A non-EEA family member of an Irish citizen must be in Ireland to apply for a residency based on family reunification. If such a family member is outside of Ireland, they must enter Ireland through a Long Stay ‘D’ visa. Once in Ireland, they will apply for residence permission through the Irish Immigration service.
How will family members of Irish citizens apply for reunification?
If you are a family member of an Irish citizen, you must first establish if you require a visa to enter Ireland. Canadian citizens can enter Ireland without a visa. Once in Ireland, you must visit the local immigration office with your Irish citizen sponsor to make a residency application.
Suppose you are the spouse of an Irish citizen and are already resident in Ireland, perhaps, through a student visa. In that case, you will apply for residence as the spouse of an Irish citizen through the immigration service. But if you were resident in Ireland without valid immigration permission, you must complete and submit Form RES6 with the required supporting documents to your local immigration office.
If you are a dependent child of an Irish citizen and are less than 16 years, you do not need to register with the immigration service when you enter Ireland. However, children over 16 must register.
Dependent parents of Irish citizens can apply for permission to remain by completing the application forms found on the INIS website.
If your residence application as the non-EEA family member of an Irish citizen is accepted, you receive a letter that permits you to remain. Afterwards, you must register your permission at your local Immigration Office or the Burgh Quay registration office in Dublin.
Pre-Clearance for De Facto Partners of Irish Nationals
In 2019, Ireland introduced a new pre-clearance process for non-EEA de facto partners of Irish citizens to enter Ireland. This pre-clearance process will apply to both visa-required and non-visa-required de facto partners.
Under the pre-clearance system, de facto partners without a Preclearance Approval Letter will not be permitted entry into Ireland by an Immigration Officer to join their Irish partner.
The new pre-clearance process aims to speed up the permitting process for de facto partners who arrive from overseas. De-facto partners, especially non-visa-required nationals, often face delays of up to 12 months in regularising their status from within Ireland, making them unable to work. The pre-clearance system will fix this problem and ensure that they are certain of their status while entering Ireland.
De facto partners can apply for a Preclearance Approval Letter from the INIS website.
Family Reunification for EU/EEA/Swiss citizens
EU/EEA citizens that reside in Ireland and express their treaty rights have a legal right to apply for family reunification with certain family members.
EEA nationals in Ireland who are in Ireland to study or are self-sufficient must have comprehensive health insurance for themselves and their family members. Once an EU citizen expresses his free movement rights, his qualifying and permitted family members can apply to join them in the State.
Who is a Qualifying family member?
Qualifying family members of EEA nationals include;
- Spouse or civil partner
- Dependent child or grandchild under the age of 21
- Dependent parent or grandparent
- Other direct dependent descendants in the ascending line (for example, great-grandparents or great-grandchildren).
Who is a Permitted family member?
Permitted family members of EEA nationals include;
- De-facto partners
- Dependent family members who do not classify as qualifying family members.
- Family members that are dependent based on medical grounds.
How will family members of EU/EEA nationals apply for reunification?
A non-EU/EEA family member of an EEA national resident in Ireland must first enter Ireland to apply for a residence permit.
They can do that through a D visa, applying to reside in Ireland on the basis of being a family member of an EEA citizen exercising their Free Movement rights. If you are a non-visa-required national, e.g. a Canadian citizen, you do not need to make a visa application. You can easily travel to Ireland.
Once in Ireland, the family member must apply for a residence card from the Irish immigration service.
Qualifying family members can apply for the residence card by filling out the form EUTR1, while permitted family members will fill out form EUTR1A. Both forms are available on the INIS website. Each family member who wishes to apply for a residence card must fill out a separate form.
Afterwards, they will visit a local immigration office to submit the form and other supporting documents to prove their family relationship with the EEA national.
When the application for a residence card is successful, the Minister for Justice will issue the family member a residence card with Stamp 4, which allows them to work freely in Ireland for up to 5 years.
Family Reunification Non-EEA Citizens residing in Ireland
Non-EEA citizens can bring in non-EEA family members to join them in Ireland. However, the right to family reunification for non-EEA nationals in Ireland depends on the type of Irish residence permit they hold.
Category A residence permission holders, e.g., Critical Skills permit holders, can sponsor a reunification application immediately after arriving in Ireland and even before working and earning payment. However, they must be able to show evidence of projected earnings in the form of their employment contract.
Category B residence permit holders, such as General Employment permit holders, must reside in Ireland for at least a year before they can apply for reunification with their family members. They must also meet a minimum net income for two years before their application. The exact income is not specified and is different in each circumstance. However, it must be an amount that is sufficient to take care of themself and their dependent family member.
Non-EEA family members of non-EU citizens living in Ireland must apply for a D visa to enter Ireland if they are visa-required nationals. Otherwise, they can enter Ireland without a visa.
Once in Ireland, the non-EEA family member must apply for residence permission with the Irish Immigration service. Once they receive the residence permit, they must register it with their local immigration office.
Family Reunification for Refugees/Subsidiary Protection Beneficiaries
Persons with refugee status or subsidiary protection in Ireland have an automatic right to family reunification under the International Protection Act 2015. This allows them to bring their nuclear family, including spouses or civil partners and dependent children under 18 years, into the State.
Note that if they are bringing a spouse or civil partner, the marriage or civil partnership must have started before refugee status was granted.
If a person with refugee status or subsidiary protection is a minor, they have the legal right to be reunited with their parents and minor siblings.
Applications for reunification can only be made within the first 12 months of being granted refugee status/subsidiary protection.
The refugee or Subsidiary Protection beneficiary must write to the Family Reunification Section of INIS requesting to apply for family reunification for the specific family member. Afterward, they will complete a family reunification questionnaire and provide supporting documentation.
Applications can be made for family members who are outside the State or from within the State
If the family member is outside of Ireland, they may need a visa application to enter Ireland. When in Ireland, they can then register their permission to remain in the State with their local Immigration office.
What Documents are needed for the reunification application?
These documents are needed when applying for a D visa to join a family member in Ireland;
- Signed and dated application summary
- Two colored passport-sized photographs
- International passport
- A signed letter of application
- Proof of sponsor’s status or eligible to sponsor
- Evidence of claimed relationship with the sponsor
- Proof of personal finances and those of their sponsor
- Medical or travel insurance
- Previous visa refusals (if any)
- Proof of dependency on their sponsor (most especially for permitted family members)
When in Ireland, the family member and their Irish resident sponsor have to present certain documents like their Irish Residence permit (IRP) and proof of address to the local immigration office when they apply for a residence permit.
The required documents are listed on the residency application form they fill out.
Contact Total Law for assistance with gathering all required supporting documents, both for D visa applications and residence applications. Call us at +1 844 290 6312 today.
How long does it take?
Applications for a residence card are usually processed within six months but may take up to ten months.
While the application is being processed, the Minister for Justice and Equality may grant the family member temporary Stamp 4 residence permission.
What happens if an application is denied?
Application for family reunification may be denied for several reasons, such as;
- inability to prove the family relationship between the Irish resident sponsor and the non-EEA family member
- The inability of the Irish resident sponsor to show proof of adequate finances
- Where the sponsor or family member constitutes a criminal or health risk to the State
If an application is denied, the family member may appeal the decision through the INIS website by filling out the required appeal form.
The appeal must state why they feel the decision is wrong and must be submitted within two months of receiving the unfavourable decision.
How can Total law help?
Family reunification Applications are usually hectic, and you will need an excellent immigration lawyer to ensure that your family reunification is successful. Our expert lawyers are highly experienced immigration lawyers well-versed in Irish immigration applications.
We will provide you with all the support you require and help you complete the documents you will need to provide as evidence of your eligibility for this immigration permission.
If you’ve had a denied application, our lawyers will help you through the appeal process, helping you build a standard application that will guarantee a positive outcome in your application. Pick up the phone today and give us a call today at +1 844 290 6312.
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The only fees an applicant is expected to pay are the entry visa fees when making visa applications. Otherwise, applying for permission to reside in the state is free.
Suppose the Irish resident sponsor dies or leaves the state or the relationship between the Irish resident and non-EEA family member ends due to divorce or domestic abuse. In that case, the non-EEA family member can retain their right of residence in the state. However, this right is dependent on the status of the sponsor (citizen, EU resident, non-EU resident) and the family member meeting certain criteria.
In the case of this change, the family member will have to visit the Irish Department of Justice to find out if they’re eligible for a retained right of residence and then make an application.