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Non-EEA Nationals’ Residence Rights In Ireland

If you are not from the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland, there are a number of residence rights that you must fulfil for you to live in Ireland. These residence rights are granted by the Department of Justice and Equality in Ireland, where they put a special stamp on your passport. This stamp is commonly known as a residence stamp. If the permission to remain is granted, then your passport is endorsed with a certificate of registration. And it’s only after this – plus other determining circumstances governing your presence in Ireland – that your family will be able to join you in the country.

So, the following are the rules that must be met for you to be allowed to live in Ireland:

Documentation – as a non-EEA national who desires to live in Ireland, there are some key pieces of documentation that you will have to produce. They include

  • Your passport – valid for the proposed stay period, at least.
  • Relevant visa – if you come from a visa-required country, you will need a visa.
  • Business permission, business visa or an employment permit – those who intend to engage in business or work in the country must produce this document.

Your documentation will be examined by an immigration officer at the point of entry to Ireland. The officer might ask you if you have funds to support yourself and your family (if any), or at least how you plan to support yourself during your stay in the country. Also, you might be asked a few other questions regarding your application. So, on this matter, the onus rests with you to answer every question in a manner that satisfies the immigration officer. You will also need to prove the authenticity of your credentials to the immigration office.

The requirement to prove your identity – on arrival to Ireland, non-EEA nationals must produce their passport or an equivalent identity document at the immigration office. Also, non-EEA nationals already in the country should provide a registration certificate or any other document on demand to the Garda, immigration officer or even the minister. Only persons of 16 years of age, and not born in Ireland, are exempted from this requirement. As for all non-EEA nationals born in Ireland, they are required to produce identity documents to the relevant authorities.

Certificate of registration – after the immigration officer approves everything, he/she will then endorse your passport with the appropriate stamp. And if your proposed stay exceeds 3 months, you will need to register with your local immigration office for a certificate of registration – also known as an Irish Residence Permit (IRP). Besides showing the type of residence you hold, this permit – based on your nationality and legal status – can function as a residence document or a residence card. Please note that the permit is not an identity document: as it just a certificate required by the law in Ireland.

Family members – your right to bring family members to Ireland totally depends on the rules governing your presence in the country. For instance, if you hold a General Employment Permit, you will be able to bring your family into the country only after working in Ireland, legally, for about a year. Also, you will have to prove to the immigration officer that you will be able to support your family without any recourse to public resources. In practice, it means that you have the ability to support each and every member of your family without qualifying for Family Income Supplement.

Visitors who are not allowed to work – non-EEA nationals coming to Ireland as a tourist, a visitor, the civil dependant or partner, or even a spouse to an employment permit holder, or coming to receive medical attention in the country, your passport will be endorsed with a stamp 3. However, a spouse to a Critical Skills Employment Permit holder can have his/her passports endorsed with a Stamp number 1, allowing you to work. With Stamp number 3 on your passport, you are not entitled to engage in any profession, business or work while in the country, and the period the stamp stays valid depends on your circumstances.

Persons who are allowed to work – all non-EEA nationals who intend to work in Ireland must have an employment permit. There are some non-EEA students who can do casual work. What’s more, persons with stamp number 4 on their passports don’t need any permission for them to work in the country.

EU treaty rights – for non-EEA family members who are granted permission to remain in the country under EU Treaty Rights, when they apply with the immigration office, the card they will then receive does have the wording ‘4 EU FAM.’ As a holder of this card, you will be exempted from visa applications, and you won’t need business permission or employment permit for you to work.

Employment permit for 5 years – if you’ve been legally working in Ireland for 5 consecutive years, then you will no longer require a permit for you to work. All you can do is to apply with your local immigration officer, and you will be issued with stamp 4 permission for a period of one year. You will be able to renew this permission annually, and you will be able to take up any job you want.

Other categories that are eligible – even if you are a non-EEA national, but you are in Ireland as a civil dependant or partner, or as the spouse of an Irish, a Swiss, or an EEA national, you will get a Stamp 4, which will allow you to work or engage in any business without the need of an employment or a business permit. You are also eligible for a Stamp 4 if you fall under the following categories: programmers or convention refugees; or former asylum seekers who have been granted permission to remain.

Long-term residence rights – if you have legally remained in Ireland for 5 years or more, you can acquire long term residence rights. After this period, you will still be required to apply for a certificate of registration but you won’t need a business or employment permit to work.            

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