There is a lot to consider when returning to Ireland with non-Irish family members. Depending on their citizenship and their relationship to you, they may need to apply for permission before they can live and work in Ireland. They may even need a visa before they can enter the country. In all cases, you will need to satisfy certain financial requirements in order to sponsor your family member to come to Ireland.
In this section, you will find information to help them through the immigration process in Ireland.
Returning with a Spouse
Being a spouse means that your relationship is legally acknowledged and registered with a civil registration office in the country in which you were married.
Citizens of EEA countries
If your spouse is a citizen of an EEA country, they do not need a visa or permission to live and/or work Ireland. They should enter Ireland on their EEA passport.
Citizens of non-EEA countries
If your spouse is a citizen of a non-EEA country, they may need to apply for a visa before they can travel to Ireland. You can check if they need a visa here (pdf.). The visa process for spouses from visa required countries can take up to 6 months, so plan well in advance of your return. The application is made online, and supporting documents are sent by post to the nearest Irish Embassy (it’s always best to contact them first to see if they have any extra requirements).
Spouses from non-visa required countries (such as the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand etc.) can travel directly to Ireland without applying for a visa beforehand. At Immigration Control in the airport they should state their intention is to apply for residency as spouse of an Irish citizen.
Once in Ireland your spouse will need to register with a local Immigration Officer for permission to live and work here based on your relationship. This is the case even if they do not need a visa but are from a non-EEA country. Information on registering for immigration permission for the first time is available here. There are different procedures depending on whether you will be living in Dublin or elsewhere. Generally registration is a straightforward process, but you do need to be prepared as if you don’t have everything you need, you might be requested to make a written application which takes 12 months to process.
Returning with a De Facto Partner
A de facto partnership is a relationship that is similar to marriage but that has not been legally recognised or registered. There are some key requirements to showing you are in a de facto partnership:
- You must have lived together for at least 2 years (this is known as ‘co-habitation’)
- You must be able to prove this using things like joint bank accounts, shared tenancies and other evidence that shows you are in a durable, lasting relationship
Citizens of EEA countries
If your de facto partner is a citizen of an EEA country, they do not need a visa or permission to live and/or work Ireland. They should enter Ireland on their EEA passport.
Citizens of non-EEA countries
If your de facto partner is a citizen of a non-EEA country, they need to apply for and be granted immigration permission before coming to Ireland. This applies to citizens of both visa and non-visa required countries. The application is made through the Irish AVATS online visa system which guides both visa and non-visa required de facto partners through the process.
When your partner selects their country of nationality, the system will give them a series of options under ‘What is the reason for travel?’. If they are from a non-visa required country (e.g. Australia, Canada, USA, New Zealand, South Africa etc.) they should select ‘Preclearance – Join Family (Irish nat.)(de facto partner)’. If they are from a visa required country (e.g. Algeria, Thailand, Turkey, Kenya etc.) they should select ‘Join Family (Irish nat.) (de facto partner)’.
Once they have completed the application and paid the relevant fee, they will need to send supporting documents by post to the nearest Irish Embassy. We’d recommend contacting the Embassy before doing so as it’s always best to check if they have any extra requirements. After your partner’s visa/pre-clearance is granted, they can travel to Ireland.
Once in Ireland they will need to register with a local Immigration Officer for permission to live and work here based on their relationship with an Irish citizen. Information on registering for immigration permission for the first time is available here. They must register either within 90 days of arriving in Ireland, or before their entry stamp expires, whichever comes first. There are different procedures depending on whether you will be living in Dublin or elsewhere.
You’ll find all the official information and a link for the AVATS application system at www.irishimmigration.ie/coming-to-join-family-in-ireland/joining-an-irish-national/de-facto-partner-of-an-irish-national/.
Returning with Children or other Family Members
If your child or family member is a citizen of an EEA country, they do not need a visa or permission to live and/or work Ireland. They should enter Ireland on an EEA passport.
If your child or family members is a citizen of a non-EEA country, they may need a visa and/or immigration permission to live and work in Ireland.
‘Children’ means minor dependents under the age of 18, or dependents in full-time education up the age of 23, of either the Irish citizen or their non-EEA spouse, or de facto partner.
Non-EEA children can usually join their Irish family member in Ireland. However, there are financial and other criteria that need to be met, along with visa and immigration requirements. If the non-EEA de facto partner is undertaking a pre-clearance application then their non-EEA children must also be included in it. If you have children who are not Irish citizens, contact us to check how to include them in your application.
If your child was born abroad and you were an Irish citizen at the time of their birth, then your child may also be an Irish citizen either from birth or by applying to the Foreign Births Register. We advise you to contact your local Irish Embassy or Consulate before you return to Ireland for information on Irish passports and Foreign Birth Registration.
Other family members
Other family members can include elderly parents or adult dependents. These groups have no automatic right to come to Ireland but in some circumstances can get permission. This usually requires proving dependency and meeting financial thresholds.
Please contact us if you would like to find out if you can bring your non-EEA children or other dependents to Ireland (including Civil Partners) as we will need to find out the details of your family relationship before giving you information.