A new pre-clearance process has been introduced to make it easier for partners of Irish citizens who are not from the European Economic Area to live and work in Ireland.

The EEA includes European Union countries as well as Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.

Under the new process, de facto partners of Irish citizens can apply for permission to reside in the country before they travel to Ireland.

Under the previous system, the application process for partners could only begin upon their arrival in the State and may have taken up to one year to complete.

Now, once pre-clearance has been granted, applicants can arrive and register with the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service immediately. They will then have access to the labour market straight away.

Justice and Equality Minister Charlie Flanagan said the new process “will provide greater certainty for people considering or planning on moving back home to Ireland (with their partner)”.

Flanagan said he hoped the development would lead to more emigrants returning home: “In recent times, many of our young and our most highly educated citizens have emigrated. They may have wanted to further their careers, make more money, or simply to experience the wider world.

While away, some have met life partners and perhaps even started their own families. We want to show these people that Ireland is ready to welcome them home and that we will provide a clear immigration and labour market pathway for their de facto partners.

What is a de facto partner?

For immigration purposes, a person may be considered an individual’s de facto partner if:

  • they have a mutual commitment to a shared life akin to a marriage or civil partnership in practice though not in law
  • the relationship between them is genuine and continuing
  • they live together or do not live separately and apart on a permanent basis
  • they are not related by family
  • This type of immigration permission is conditional on the relationship and if the relationship ends, the permission ends

Such permission may be granted to both opposite and same-sex partners, one of whom is an Irish citizen.

The change means that the immigration situation of de facto partners will be more akin to non-EEA spouses and civil partners of Irish citizens.

The new process addresses one of the key recommendations in a report conducted for the government into the challenges faced by returning Irish emigrants.

Source & Copyright: The Journal.ie / Image: DFA-Passport-©-Phil-Behan