You absolutely can! Citizenship by marriage is one of the ways many non-Irish citizens obtain citizenship in this amazing country. All this is made possible under the country’s naturalization laws, which dictate the process through which a foreigner with no Irish heritage becomes a citizen. However, there is a difference! When the foreigner gets married to an Irish citizen, they will be able to obtain citizenship much earlier than in other naturalization cases. This guide will tell you everything you need to know about Irish citizenship by marriage, including how you can approach the entire process.
What are the requirements for obtaining citizenship by marriage in Ireland?
For you to qualify for citizenship through marriage, there are a number of requirements you have to meet first. They include the following;
- Age requirement – you must be 18 or older to be eligible to apply for Irish citizenship through marriage.
- Duration of marriage – you must have been married to or in a civil union with an Irish citizen for at least three years.
- Cohabitation – you must have been living with your Irish citizen spouse or partner, and this cohabitation should be ongoing.
- Residence requirement – there are two residence-related criteria:
- You should have resided in Ireland for at least three years out of the five years preceding your application. This means you must have physically lived in Ireland for a significant portion of the five years leading up to your application.
- Additionally, you should have lived in either Northern Ireland or the Republic of Ireland continuously for at least one year immediately before submitting your application. This means you should have had continuous residence in either of these regions for a year without any prolonged absences.
- Intent to stay – you must declare your intention to reside in Ireland after obtaining citizenship. This can include making a declaration of fidelity and loyalty to the Irish state. This requirement is aimed at ensuring that individuals seeking citizenship are genuinely committed to living in Ireland.
- Good character requirement – this criterion assesses your character and conduct to determine whether you meet the standards of good character expected of Irish citizens. As part of this evaluation, Irish immigration authorities may review:
- Criminal record: any previous convictions or criminal history you might have.
- Investigations and pending cases – any ongoing investigations against you or pending criminal cases
- Police caution or warnings – any cautions or other warnings you may have received from the Irish police force.
Here is a breakdown of all the documents you typically need when applying for citizenship through marriage in Ireland;
Proof of identity and nationality:
- Birth certificate – your original birth certificate is required to establish your identity and nationality.
- Passport copy – you can include a photocopy of your passport. However, the photocopy must be certified by a solicitor, commissioner for oaths, or notary public.
- Previous passports – include original or photocopies of any previous passports you might have held.
Proof of relationship:
- Marriage or civil partnership certificate – this document establishes the legal relationship between you and your Irish citizen spouse or partner
- Evidence of Irish citizen status – you need to provide evidence that your partner is indeed an Irish citizen. This could be their birth certificate or naturalization certification.
Proof of residence in Ireland:
- Evidence of mortgage or rent payments – documents showing your residential address and financial commitments in Ireland, such as mortgage or rent payment records, serve as proof of your residence.
Certified true copies – some documents, such as birth certificates, marriage or civil partnership certificates, and passports, need to be certified as true copies by authorized individuals. This can include solicitors, notaries, commissioners for oaths, or peace commissioners.
Tax clearance certificate – if you have worked in Ireland, you are required to submit a tax clearance certificate. This certificate demonstrates that you are in compliance with Irish tax regulations. If you haven’t worked in Ireland, you should include a note in your application explaining the reason why you’re unable to provide a tax clearance certificate.
How to apply
When it comes to applying for citizenship through marriage, Irish immigration laws prescribe the specific legal steps you can take. They are as follows;
- Verification of eligibility – the first step for anyone interested in obtaining Irish citizenship through marriage is to determine if they qualify for the application. Eligibility criteria, as we discussed above, include age, duration of marriage, residence requirements, and good character. If there is uncertainty about eligibility, seeking advice from immigration lawyers in Ireland can provide clarification.
- Document preparation and form submission – once eligibility is confirmed, applicants can gather the necessary documents and prepare their application forms (in this case, Form 8). These are the documents you will need to prove your eligibility.
- Submission to Immigration Service Delivery (ISD) – the completed application forms and supporting documents are then submitted to the Immigration Service Delivery, an entity under the Irish Department of Justice. This institution has the authority to evaluate applications and make decisions on granting Irish citizenship.
- Review and decision – the ISD will review the application and supporting documents to determine whether you meet the requirements for Irish citizenship through marriage. They use a scorecard system, giving applicants points based on their identification and residency, where each document you provide earns you some points. You are required to have at least 150 points to qualify. Remember that they have the final decision-making authority on whether an individual will be granted Irish citizenship. So, make sure you don’t make mistakes on your application.
- Once you are approved, you will now attend the citizenship ceremony, which is where you will make a declaration of fidelity and loyalty to Ireland. This declaration showcases your commitment to living, working, and being an active part of Irish society.
There are a few things you will need to keep in mind, though;
- Different procedures for EEA and Non-EEA Nationals – the Irish immigration law differentiates between nationals of the European Economic Area (EEA) and non-EEA nationals. Non-EEA nationals, including those married Irish citizens, may need to obtain approval to migrate to Ireland. The marriage itself doesn’t automatically grant the right to move to Ireland.
- Civil partnership – if the marriage is under a civil partnership, the rules are governed by the Civil Partnership and Certain Rights and Obligations of Cohabitants Act 2010. If an individual already has residency rights in Ireland, they can apply for Irish citizenship through marriage if they satisfy the other conditions outlined in the law.
- Proof of cohabitation and good character: At the time of application, providing evidence that you are living with your spouse or partner is essential. Additionally, meeting the “good character” requirement involves having a clean criminal record, addressing any investigations or pending cases, and demonstrating a commitment to adhere to Irish society’s values.
What if you have not been living in the country?
As you have seen, we have stated that among the requirements, you must have lived in the country for about three years prior to your citizenship application. So, we might ask ourselves, what if you have not been living in the country? Well, you will need to obtain permission to reside in the country first.
If you are the spouse or partner of an Irish citizen and you are from a non-European Economic Area (EEA) country, you need approval to live in Ireland. To achieve this, you must complete an application form and provide various documents confirming your relationship with the Irish national.
The application process involves submitting a written application to the Immigration Service Delivery (ISD) in Dublin. For this specific case, you must fill out the “Spouse/Civil Partner of an Irish National Application Form” and attach the following documents to establish your eligibility for residence in Ireland and potential future Irish citizenship through marriage:
- Completed and signed application form from both the applicant and the Irish partner/spouse
- Proof of civil partnership or valid marriage between the two parties.
- Identity documents for both parties, including birth certificates and passports
- If either party was previously married, documents regarding the dissolution of the prior marriage.
- Information about personal financial situations for both parties
- Evidence of valid medical insurance for the foreign partner/spouse.
- Details about any joint accommodations, such as hotel bookings, lease agreements, or property ownership
Upon receiving the application, Irish institutions will review the submitted documentation and then decide whether to accept you. If accepted, both the foreign partner and the Irish citizen will be invited to an interview with representatives from the reviewing institutions. It is during this interview that the subsequent steps will be determined. In the case of a negative response, the applicant has the right to appeal the decision within two months of receiving the refusal letter. Legal advice is recommended in such cases to navigate the appeal process effectively.
Now, if the application is successful, the foreign partner will receive Stamp 4, which entails certain responsibilities, such as living together as a family, adhering to Irish laws, avoiding criminal activities, and residing in Ireland on a continuous basis. While short trips abroad are allowed, prolonged absences (more than 90 days per year) can affect the citizenship process negatively, as continuous presence is essential to meet citizenship requirements.
After being in the country for the required period, you can initiate the Irish citizenship by marriage process by completing Form 8, which Irish authorities will evaluate. Depending on the situation, you may also need to apply for a visa. An immigration lawyer can provide guidance on the visa application process and suitable visa types.
For more information, legal advice, and assistance throughout the entire process of citizenship by marriage, consulting an immigration lawyer is recommended. They can offer insights, address concerns, and provide representation when necessary.
The costs involved
The cost for applying for Irish citizenship through marriage is €175. To make this payment, you need to provide a banker’s draft, which should be sent by mail along with your application. The draft must be issued by an Irish bank and payable to the Secretary-General of the Department of Justice.
Upon approval of your application for becoming a citizen of Ireland, you will need to pay either €950 or €200 to receive your Certificate of Naturalisation. The €950 fee applies to spouses and civil partners of Irish citizens, while the €200 fee is for Widows, Widowers, or Surviving Civil Partners of Irish citizens.
No exceptions for the fees associated with applying for Irish citizenship through marriage are made. It’s important to note that the application fee will not be refunded if your citizenship application is rejected.
How long will it take?
Processing a complete and well-prepared application typically requires around 23 months from the moment the ISD (Immigration Service Delivery) receives the application form, documents, and application fee. If you happen to omit certain necessary documents, you might be given a grace period of up to 28 days to furnish them. However, failing to provide these documents within this timeframe could result in your application being declined or considered ineligible.
To enhance the chances of a successful outcome, it’s crucial to ensure that your application is both comprehensive and accurate. Make sure to include all pertinent documents and evidence that can support your case. Engaging the services of immigration experts can be beneficial in thoroughly assessing all aspects to increase your chances of a favorable result.
Love knows no boundaries! This means you can fall in love with anyone and from any part of the world. If you fall in love and marry an Irish citizen, you should know that you will have a leeway to become an Irish citizen. And the good news is that the process isn’t complicated at all. On the contrary, it is pretty easy, especially if you have met all the requirements we discussed in this guide. We also have to admit that the application process isn’t always easy, which is why we recommend you seek help from a local immigration attorney. This way, you will have a much better chance of success. Best of luck!