Family Reunification (Non-Refugee)
Finding out if you are able to bring your family members to Ireland to live with you, and if you are, how to go about that process can be complicated. Your rights and entitlements depend on what your status is in Ireland as well as circumstances of the family member you wish to sponsor.
There are three questions we ask when you want to sponsor a family member:
1. What is your immigration status (as a sponsor)?
Your ability to sponsor a family member depends on what your immigration status is. There are different processes depending on whether you are an Irish citizen, EEA citizen, refugee or person eligible for subsidiary protection or none of the above. There are information notes on the different categories of sponsors to the side.
2. Is your family member already in Ireland and if not, is your family member visa required?
The procedures differ depending on whether the family member you wish to sponsor is already in Ireland. If your family member is already in Ireland, you may be able to request a change of status and apply for a residence permission from INIS. If your family member has a deportation order, then normally they will have to apply for a revocation before a residence application can be considered.
If not, generally your family member will need to apply for a D visa before they can come to Ireland unless they are from a country that is not visa-required. You can check whether you need a visa to enter Ireland here and for information on applying for a visa see here. Currently, if your family member is not visa-required to enter Ireland, they cannot get pre-clearance to apply for a long-stay in Ireland and will have to wait until they are in Ireland to apply for residence permission from INIS. The only exception to this pre-clearance rule is for de facto partners of Critical Skills employment permit holders and you can find information on that here.
3. What is your relationship to your family member? (eg. parent, child, spouse, sibling)
Generally, you are more likely to be granted family reunification with a person who is an immediate family member. The INIS Non-EEA Policy Document on Family Reunification breaks family members down into three categories: Immediate family members (spouse, de facto partner, minor children), parents and other family. You can find a Nasc information note on the policy document to the side of this page. As of 01st November 2019, new rules come into place for non EEA de facto partners of Irish citizens who must apply for immigration pre-clearance before travelling to Ireland.
Family Reunification for Irish Citizens
Irish citizens do not have an automatic right to family reunification even with immediate family members. Applications for family reunification are dealt with under the Non-EEA Policy Document on Family Reunification.
When your application for family reunification is being assessed, your financial circumstances as well as that of your family member will be assessed. As an Irish citizen if you wish to apply for an immediate family member (spouse, de facto partner or child) you are required to have earned not less than €40,000 gross/before tax in total over the previous three years (eg €13,334 gross per annum). The €40,000 figure excludes any income from state benefits. You must also show that you have not been reliant on state benefits for the two years before you make the application.
As an Irish citizen if you wish to apply for family reunification with one of your elderly parents, you should be aware that the State has decided to take “a highly restrictive approach” to these applications and the “the default position for such migration, given the financial risk to the State is a refusal.” As a sponsor, you will be required to show that you have earnings (after tax and deductions) of €60,000 per annum for one parent and €75,000 per annum for both parents for each of the three previous years. Any independent income your parents have can be used to offset the financial limits. There is also a requirement to provide detailed documentary evidence of the relationship history and your parents dependence on you.
If your family member is already in the State, you may make an application for residence from Ireland. There are different application processes depending on the relationship between you and your family member eg parent/child, spouse, de facto partner.
Pre-Clearance for De Facto Partners of Irish Nationals
In August 2019, the Minister for Justice and Equality announced the introduction of a new pre-clearance process to be introduced for Non-EEA de facto partners of Irish citizens live and work in Ireland. This pre-clearance process will apply to both visa-required and non-visa-required de facto partners who wish to join their Irish citizen partners in Ireland. The advantage of the new pre-clearance process is that it should speed up the permission process and ensure that applicants who arrive from overseas will arrive in Ireland with knowledge that their residence should be secure and they can work in Ireland without delay. In our experience, particularly non-visa required nationals, often faced delays of up to 12 months regularising their status from within Ireland. During this time, they were unable to work. The new process aims to fix this problem and provide greater certainty to de facto partners.
As of, 01st November 2019, you will not be permitted entry to the State by an Immigration Officer at the Border for the purpose of joining your Irish National de facto partner unless you can produce a Preclearance Approval Letter. Applications from inside the State will not be accepted. For full information on the qualifying criteria please see the INIS website.
Family Reunification for EU/EEA nationals
Citizens of the EEA (the 28 EU countries and Norway, Liechtenstein and Iceland) and Swiss citizens have a legal right to apply for family reunification with certain family members once they are exercising their free movement rights. This legal right comes from EU Law. EEA citizens exercise their free movement rights in Ireland by working, being self-employed, studying (including in vocational studies) or being self-sufficient. If you are an EEA citizen who has worked in Ireland, but you’ve lost your job, you may still qualify for family reunification. This is generally in circumstances where you have involuntarily lost your job or become ill or injured and are no longer able to work. For more detailed information on this, you should attend Nasc’s Free Legal Service where your circumstances can be assessed. If you are in Ireland to study or as a self-sufficient person, you must show that you have comprehensive health insurance for you and for your family members.
Categories of family members
Family members of EEA citizens are categorised as either being qualifying family members or permitted family members. Your qualifying family members include your spouse or civil partner, your children who are under 21 or those of your spouse or civil partner (step-children),you’re your older children who are dependent on you or those of your spouse or civil partner (step-children) if they are also dependent on you, your parents and your spouse or civil partner's parents, if they are also dependent on you. You have a right to family reunification with these family members for as long as you are exercising your free movement rights (with some exceptions for students) in Ireland.
Permitted family members are those who do not have an absolute right to reside with you in Ireland. The state must facilitate the entry and residence. These family members include de facto partners, other dependent family members, and members of your household or dependent family members on medical grounds.
How do I apply for my family?
If your family member is already in Ireland, you can submit an application for a residence card to the INIS. You will first have to decide whether your family member is a qualifying family member or a permitted family member. Your qualifying family member should complete an EU1 form. Each member of your family who wishes to apply for a residence card must fill out a separate form. If your family member is a permitted family member, then they need to complete an EU1A form. Both forms are available on the INIS website and are updated regularly.
If your family member is not in Ireland, you should check whether they need a visa to enter Ireland. You can do that here. If they do not need a visa, your family member will need to travel to Ireland and then make an application for a residence card.
If your family member does need an entry visa to travel to Ireland, they should make a ‘C’ visa application specifying on their visa application that they are applying to reside in Ireland on the basis that they are the family member of an EEA citizen exercising their Free Movement rights. You can find information about the type of documentation you will need on the INIS website. If the application is successful, your family member will be given three months from the date of arrival to make an application for a residence card.
Marie is a Spanish citizen. She recently moved to Ireland from Venezuela where she had been living with her husband Matias, her husband’s parents and her husband’s aunt Sara. Sara has lived with Marie and Matias for ten years as she was severely injured in a car accident and is unable to take care of herself. The economic situation in Venezuela has been very poor for several years and neither of Matias’s parents are working. The income from Marie’s employment pays for their food bills, household rent and medical expenses. Marie has now found work in Ireland and wants the family to join her in Ireland.
Marie’s husband and her dependent parents-in-law are qualifying family members. Marie will need to provide evidence that her parents-in-law are financially dependent on her. Sara is a permitted family member either on the grounds that she is a member of Marie’s household or that she is dependent on Marie on medical grounds. Marie will need to prove that Sara has been living with her for ten years and/or that Sara has very significant medical issues.
Marie’s family will firstly have to apply for ‘C’ visas to join Marie in Ireland providing evidence of their family relationship and that Marie is living in Ireland and exercising her free movement rights. Sara will have to pay a €60 visa application fee but the others are exempt as they are qualifying family members. If the visa applications are successful, then Matias, his parents and Sara will all need to apply for residence cards after they arrive in Ireland. Matias and his parents will each need to complete an EU1 Form and Sara will need to complete an EU1A Form.