Moving to Ireland from the USA can be a daunting task. It is important to understand that even though you are an American citizen, immigration laws in Ireland are different than those in America. The process of immigration and moving to Ireland from the US will require some time, patience and preparation on your part. As an average American, and a non-EEA national, there are a number of ways you can legally live and work in Ireland, or become an Irish citizen.
For short-term stay, the moving process can be quite similar to visiting for a vacation, where you will need a passport/short-stay visa that will be screened by the Customs agency, administered by INIS (Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service). Those coming to Ireland for tourism or business stays are only allowed to stay for a period of 90 days.
But if your dream is to live and work in the country for a period that exceeds 90 days, you will need a long-stay visa. You will also be required to clearly demonstrate your travel intent, and by that we mean a general explanation of your plans, plus the evidence that you have sufficient funds to support your stay. If your intention is to study, work, retire or even obtain Irish citizenship, there are several established schemes from which you can seek permission to remain, in form of a visa.
This blog post offers information about how best to prepare yourself for immigration when moving from the USA to Ireland so that everything goes smoothly!
Getting a visa to move to Ireland
As we mentioned earlier, since you are not a citizen from the European Economic Area, you will need to apply for a visa in order to move to Ireland. Basically, an Irish visa is a certificate that is placed on your passport or travel document allowing you to move and live in Ireland. It can be obtained from your embassy or consulate ahead of time, if the relevant authorities are satisfied there’s no risk for immigration abuse. But even with a visa, you will still be required to present your passport and other travel documents to the immigration officer when you arrive at the airport. Now, the type of visa you will apply for depends on the purpose as well as the length of your stay in the country. They include:
Short stay visas
This one is for those looking to travel to Ireland for less than 90 days, or three months. So, if you know your purpose in Ireland won’t exceed three months, then this is the visa that you should apply for. Remember, you can’t exceed 3 months on this visa.
If your intention is to move to Ireland for more than 3 months, maybe to study, work or settle permanently in Ireland, then you should apply for a long-stay “D” visa. What’s more, with this visa, and you are planning to stay, you are also required to apply for an Irish Residence Permit (IRP).
After being issued with the first visa – which is only valid for a single entry – if you wish to leave the country for a short period of time, you may need to apply for a re-entry visa, when coming back to the country. But if you have an Irish Residence Permit (IRP), you don’t need a re-entry visa when traveling to and from Ireland.
This visa is for those traveling to another country via Ireland. You are not allowed to leave the port or airport with this visa.
Why move to Ireland?
Why do people like to move to Ireland? Work opportunities, better quality of life and lower cost of living when compared with other countries around the world; an improved climate (less humid); beautiful scenery all year round; traditional music and dance like Irish step-dancing which is popular worldwide now thanks to River Dance during its time on TV screens across America back in 1995.
As we mentioned earlier, there are a number of official reasons why most Americans immigrate to Ireland, which includes studying, work, retire, or even live permanently.
Moving to Ireland to study
If your purpose for moving to Ireland is educational, you shall be able to obtain permission to remain in the country as a student for a specified period. Of course, you will need to be in a full-time course of study, which means a minimum of 15 hours a week of study time. There is a comprehensive list of programs and individual institutions that you choose from, which all could be found on Ireland’s Interim List of Eligible Programmes (ILEP). Now, enrolment in these programs doesn’t mean that you gain an automatic entry to Ireland. All the conditions applicable to all other types of entry still apply. For instance, when applying for a student visa, you will still need to submit the following documents:
- Acceptance letter from an ILEP program and school
- Evidence that you will be able to pursue the chosen course and in English unless the course is on learning the English language.
- Proof that the course fees and tuition have been paid in full.
- Evidence of sufficient funds, to cover your full course.
- Proof of private medical insurance.
Basically, U.S citizens looking to study in Ireland can apply for a student visa and then return to their country after the specified time lapses. You will be required to confirm that this is your plan from the beginning though.
Moving to Ireland for work
The other way to obtain entry and get to move and stay in Ireland is by obtaining a work permit. With a work visa or employment permit, U.S citizens are able to remain in the country for work purposes, where the exact duration and terms of your stay entirely depend on the type of work you will be doing, as well as your specific circumstances.
To get a work visa in Ireland, you must have an employment contract or a job offer. What’s more, applicants who are highly skilled and work in highly specialised fields where there is a significant shortage of labour in the country are the ones encouraged to apply and whose applications are prioritised. What this means is that it will be very hard for you to obtain a visa for a menial or a routine job. Some of the areas that are direly in need of workers, both local and foreign includes:
- Emerging technology
- Health care workers
- Management specialists
- Science professionals
- International marketing specialists
If you are looking for a job in Ireland, of course, it can’t be easy, which is why having a good plan is so critical. Now, when applying for work, you need to be candid about your citizenship to INIS. And after you get a job offer in the country, you will be needed to provide the company’s contact information to INIS, still.
While in the US, you can always search for a job online, probably irishjobs.ie, which is one of the most popular Irish job sites in the US.
Retiring in Ireland
Are you done with school and work, and just want to retire in Ireland? The country may not be known for hot sunny beaches and palm trees, but is for sure full of beauty that provides an idyllic retirement location. The thing is though, there is so much more to Irish retirement than just hopping on a plane and going to Ireland. The way the Immigration department has numerous requirements for US citizens looking to visit, study or work in Ireland, those looking to retire are also held to similar standards. The government doesn’t want you to become a financial burden. You will be required to meet a monetary threshold of about EUR 50,000 per year, and you will also need to have enough cash reserves to cover unexpected expenses. Once you meet all these requirements and have all the necessary documents, you will be given a Stamp 0 visa, allowing you to live in Ireland. This visa may take a long time to be processed as they are low priority visa.
Applying for Irish citizenship
If you are looking to become a citizen of Ireland, there are a number of ways you can follow to make it happen. It can be through family, marriage, or the naturalisation process. If your parents or grandparents were Irish citizens, you are eligible for automatic citizen too. Also, if you have a spouse or civil partner who is an Irish national and have been married for 3 or more years, you are also eligible to apply for citizenship. For the naturalisation process, you are required to have at least five years of reckonable residence in Ireland, before you can apply for citizenship. Remember, the period you spent under the student visa in Ireland does not count, though.
Other things to consider when immigrating to Ireland from the US:
Taxes in Ireland:
For Americans who live in Ireland, one of the first things you may be confronted with is your tax status. For those working in Ireland, US citizens are taxed on their Irish income and must file a return annually to report this earnings. When living abroad as an American citizen for more than six months, a US Expatriate Tax Return will need to be filed every year because they’ve moved out of the country for an extended period of time.
The general consensus appears to be that expats who fall into any one or more of these categories should consult a professional before filing: if they have lived outside the USA for at least eight years; if they earn over $200k USD per year; if there’s been significant change in marital status (married, divorced, death); if they have children; if there has been an inheritance of over $100k.
Pets – can I bring them?
If you want to take any pets with you when moving from USA to Ireland, make sure they meet all necessary requirements beforehand as this could affect your eligibility for a residence card.
Gather information about housing options and utilities providers in advance if possible; ask friends and family living there what their experiences were like during relocation. Spend some time reading up on Irish culture so that big cultural shifts don’t come as a surprise.
If you will be moving to Ireland from the USA, make sure your immigration status in Ireland is up-to-date and that you’re aware of any changes.
Ireland’s health care system:
Irish residents don’t need travel insurance for routine visits to general practitioners or specialists but if they plan on going abroad during their time as an EU citizen it may be worthwhile considering some coverage.
Making friends in Ireland:
Socialising with locals can help people feel more at home when living there long term. Getting involved with local events, sports teams, clubs etc are good ways of meeting new people who share the same interests/hobbies as them while also getting out into their community which could lead to making new friends.
Where should you live in Ireland?
Finding a place to live once in Ireland is relatively easy, given all the listings on homes and realtor websites in Ireland. Major cities such as Galway and Dublin are some of the best places to live in, especially given the demand for homes and apartments currently being experienced in these cities. For those Americans who can’t do without the mod cons and nightlife of the big city, Dublin has a lot to offer. Areas such as Dalkey, Skerries, Malahide, and Killiney are the most popular suburbs in Dublin and the top choice for most Americans moving into the country. Other places you should consider include, cork Wicklow, Clar, and Mayo counties. The location you choose to settle in depends on the kind of lifestyle you looking forward to.
If you are looking for a place that fosters a warm and caring community spirit, you may want to consider County Mayo, County Wicklow, and County Clar. But if you are looking for an epic and wild lifestyle, then Dublin and Galway are where you should be. There are full of entertainment joints, restaurants, and amazing landscapes that would certainly fit your kind of life.
Has it always been your dream to live in Ireland? Well, Ireland is a picturesque nation that’s attractive to students, workers, and retirees from across the world, and specifically from the U.S. It might be a little tough making this dream come true, but with proper planning, putting in some work, and due diligence, you certainly can make it happen. Don’t get discouraged even if you were denied a visa for immigration to Ireland from the USA, it could be that there are other avenues open to them such as working or living in Ireland on a different type of visa. May this guide be your first step to fulfilling your dream.
Looking for more advice on how to immigrate to Ireland from the US? Book an initial consultation with our immigration solicitors.