EU Treaty Rights in Ireland

Under the EU treaty rights, EU/EEA nationals, as well as their family members enjoy certain residency rights in EU/EEA member states, including Ireland. The ‘Directive on the right of citizens of the Union and their family members to move and reside freely within the territory of the Member States’ (Directive 2004/38/EC) was published in 2004 and grants similar rights to Swiss nationals and even their non-EEA family members.

If you’re unsure of your EU treaty rights or need assistance with your immigration issues including family reunification, please contact Total Law today at 0333 305 9375 to get expert help from our immigration lawyers or use the online form to get in touch.

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    What are EU Treaty Rights in Ireland?

    EU treaty rights in Ireland refer to the rights allowed to citizens of the EU/EEA nationals and their family members (including non-EEA family members) to move freely within Ireland.

    EU treaty rights permit free movement of EEA nationals within European Union member states (which includes Ireland), provided such individuals play an active economic role in the state.

    Under the EU treaty rights, an EEA national and their permitted family members have the freedom to; work, study or reside on the basis of financial capability in Ireland.

    Ireland permits visa-free travel and free movement rights for EEA/EU citizens and Swiss citizens and their family members for a maximum of three months.

    These citizens can only stay longer than three months if they exercise a treaty right.

    Exercising a treaty right to stay more than three months implies that the non-Irish citizen either;

    • Has employment or works in a self-employed capacity
    • Has adequate living funds and comprehensive health insurance for themself and their family member(s)
    • Enrols as a student or in a vocational training program in Ireland
    • Has a family relationship with an EEA/Swiss citizen in one of the above 3 categories.

    You do not need a residence card to reside in Ireland as an EU/EEA/Swiss citizen, meaning you are not required to register with the Irish immigration office when you enter.

    However, if you bring along a non-EEA family member, they will need to apply for a residence card as a family member of an EEA national.

    If granted, the residence card will allow them to live and work in Ireland for up to five years.

    Due to the Brexit agreement that saw the UK withdraw fully from the EU on 31st December 2020, UK citizens no longer qualify for EU treaty rights.

    However, under the Common Trade Area (CTA) Agreement, UK nationals can live and work freely in Ireland.

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    Moving to Ireland for Work

    As an EU/EEA/Swiss citizen, you can stay in Ireland for up to six months if you immigrated to look for work. While in Ireland, you can transfer unemployment benefits from your home country to Ireland, and they will be paid to you for up to 3-6 months, depending on your circumstance. Once you gain employment, you have a right to live freely in Ireland.

    Under EU law, you are considered employed if you;

    • Perform ‘genuine and legitimate’ work under someone else’s direction; for pay. There is no required number of work hours or pay to be considered an EU worker.
    • Are self-employed in a ‘genuine and productive’ job

    If you live in Ireland as an EU worker for up to five years, then you can claim permanent residency in Ireland.

    You still get to keep your worker status if you stopped working in Ireland at any point because:

    • You had an illness or an accident.
    • You became voluntarily unemployed and started vocational training related to the work you were doing; 0r
    • You became involuntarily unemployed. (as long as you continue to look for work)

    If you are on maternity or paternity leave, you are classed as still working.

    Moving for Studies

    As an EU citizen, you can live freely in Ireland as a student. Being a student entails that you are;

    • Enrolled in an approved college or vocational program
    • Have enough income to live without needing support from the social welfare system in Ireland
    • Have comprehensive health insurance

    You will be required to leave Ireland once your studies end. However, if you express other treaty rights, then you can continue to stay in Ireland.


    Residency based on financial capability

    As an EU/EEA citizen, you can freely live in Ireland if you have the financial capability and comprehensive health insurance to cover for yourself and any other family member(s).

    There is no stipulated amount that is considered as being adequate, provided you do not require support from the social welfare system in Ireland. Most often, this will apply to pensioners retiring to Ireland, but receiving pensions from their home country.


    Residence Rights of family members

    As an EU citizen with a right to reside in Ireland, your family members also share similar rights as you. Per EU laws, your family member can be a permitted family member or a qualifying family member.

    If your family members are EU/EEA/Swiss or UK nationals, they will not need to register with the Irish immigration authorities. They must, however, be exercising their EU treaty rights in Ireland.

    However, if they are a non-EEA citizen, they must apply for a residence permit. You and your family member must be in Ireland before they can apply for a residence card.

    A qualifying family member of an EU citizen

    As an EU/EEA national residing in Ireland, your qualifying family members include your;

    • Spouse or civil partner
    • Dependent child or that of your spouse or civil partner
    • Grandchild or spouse’s grandchild under the age of 21
    • Dependent parent, or dependent parent of your spouse
    • Dependent grandparent, or that of your spouse
    • Other direct, dependent descendants or direct, dependent relatives in the ascending line (for example, great-grandparents or great-grandchildren) of either you or your spouse

    A permitted family member of an EU citizen

    As an EU/EEA national residing in Ireland, the following people are regarded as your permitted family members;

    • Your de-facto partner To be classed as a de facto partner, the following conditions must be met:
    • The parties have been living together in a durable relationship for at least two years
    • The parties intend to live together permanently
    • The parties are not related by blood
    • Any previous marriage or civil partnership has been annulled permanently.
    • Members of your family who are not qualifying family members but who are;
    • Dependent on you in their home country
    • Need your personal care on the basis of serious health grounds.

    Applying for an Irish residence card as the non-EEA family member of an EEA national

    Non-EEA family members of EEA nationals who plan to spend more than three months living or working in Ireland will need to apply for permission to reside at an immigration office when they arrive in Ireland.

    If granted permission, they will then apply for an Irish Residence permit (IRP). Applications for an Irish residence permit can only be made from Ireland. Thus, your non-EEA family member must first complete a visa application (if required) to come to Ireland.

    Once your family member enters Ireland, the immigration officer at the airport will place a stamp on their passport, indicating that they can stay in Ireland for up to 90 days. Once they are in Ireland, they must apply for a residence card within 90 days. The application for the residence card is in two steps

    Step 1: Completing form EUTR and gathering supporting documents

    Your family member must first complete the form EUTR. If they’re a qualifying family member, then they will complete form EUTR-1, and if they’re a permitted family member, they will complete form EUTR-1A. If you have more than one family member coming in, each person must complete a separate form.

    Form EUTR lists the documents that your family member must submit based on their circumstance. These documents are meant to prove their relationship with you. State-issued official documents like Birth and Marriage certificates issued by an EU member state do not need to be attested as genuine.

    If the documents are not in English or Irish and do not carry a multilingual standard form (MSF), then they have to be translated into English or Irish in order to serve as evidence to support their application.

    Step 2: Registering with immigration

    This registration can be done at the Burgh Quay Registration Office in Dublin or at any regional registration office or Garda District Headquarters outside of Dublin.

    They will need to bring along all the important supporting documents that serve as evidence of their relationship with you and that will indicate the type of activity they want to engage in Ireland (work or study).

    They must also bring along evidence that they have enough funds for their stay in Ireland. It typically tasks up to six months for a residency application to be processed and for a decision to be sent to the applicant.

    If they’re a qualifying family member and have sent enough documentation to prove their relationship with you and your right to reside in the state, Immigration Service Delivery may send them a letter inviting them to register and get a temporary Irish Residence Permit while their residency application is being processed.

    Your family member applying for a residence permit as the family member of a Union citizen residing in Ireland will not need to pay a fee for their Irish Residence permit.

    Successful Applications

    If your family member’s application is successful, Immigration service delivery will send them their Irish Residence Permit bearing Stamp 4EUFAM.

    The IRP will be sent via post and will indicate the types of activities they can engage in.

    Typically, the IRP allows them to stay in Ireland for up to 5 years.

    However, if the duration of your stay or the validity of their passport is is less than five years, then their granted stay will be shorter.

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      Denials and Appeals

      In very rare circumstances, you or your family member may be prevented from entering Ireland. Usually, a denial may come if;

      • you carry a severe contagious disease that poses a grave threat to Ireland residents
      • you have a past history of violent crimes and are a threat to the public.

      Your non-EEA family member may also be denied a residence card if they cannot provide all the required documentation for their application. If your family member is denied a right to reside, they may appeal the decision by first filling out the form EUTR4.

      Permanent residence certificate and permanent residence card

      As an EU/EEA national, when you have maintained continuous residence in the state for 5 years, maintaining and upholding its laws, then you may apply for a permanent residence certificate. You must fill out the form EUTR2 to apply for this certificate, then follow further instructions as stipulated.

      On the other hand, if your family member has maintained continuous residence in the state for 5 years as the family member of an EEA national and has complied with the Regulations, then they may apply for a permanent residence card, which allows them to live, work or operate businesses freely in Ireland for a period of 10 years. To apply for the permanent residence card, they must first make an application through the form EUTR3 before the expiration of their current residence card.


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        How Can Total Law Help?

        Applications for residency in Ireland as a family member of an EU citizen can be dicey. You will need an excellent, highly experienced immigration lawyer to walk you through the steps and ensure that your application and family reunification under EU Treaty Rights is successful.

        At Total law, we have a plethora of highly experienced immigration lawyers that are well versed in Irish immigration applications around EU Treaty Rights. Our expert lawyers will provide you with all the support and assistance you require, and also help you complete the documents which you will need to provide as evidence of your eligibility for this immigration permission.

        If you’ve had a denied application, not to worry. Our lawyers will help you through the appeal process, helping you build a standard application that will guarantee a positive outcome in your application. We will guarantee that your dream to start a new life in Ireland with your family is made real.

        Pick up the phone today and give us a call today at 0333 305 9375, and let us start your journey to Irish bliss. You can also get in touch through our online contact form.


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                  Frequently Asked Questions

                  If your relationship with your EU family member changes, such as in the case of a divorce or death, or in circumstances where they have left the state, you may be able to retain your residence card if you meet certain criteria, as stipulated in the Form EUTR5.

                  The form EUTR5 in the form with which you will make an application to retain your residence card.


                  UK citizens are subject to the CTA and can live and work freely in Ireland. However, the situation is different for their non-EEA family members.

                  Non-EEA family members of UK citizens who had EU treaty residence rights prior to Brexit are still subject to the same rights following Brexit. All they need to do is to change their previous IRP to a new one stating that they benefit from withdrawal rights.

                  Non-EEA family members of UK citizens looking to join their UK family members in Ireland after Brexit can do so through the Joining your UK national family member scheme. They must meet certain eligibility criteria before they can be allowed into Ireland.