Immigration Law

The Irish Immigration System-What You Need to Know

Are you a non EU/EEA citizen and wish to stay in Ireland for longer than 90 days? Then you must apply for immigration permission.

Before you travel, however, you should check whether you need a visa or not. You can check this on this page of the website of the Department of Justice and Equality.

Immigration permission

You should apply for immigration permission before you come to Ireland. If you are successful you must then register your permission to stay in Ireland. You do not need to register if you do not stay in Ireland for less than 90 days.

If your permission to stay in Ireland is granted a stamp will be put in your passport which will indicate the type of permission you have been granted; the various stamp types indicate

  1. What you can and cannot do in Ireland
  2. How long you are permitted to stay

Stamp 0

Stamp 0 is a low level permission which allows a person to stay in Ireland for a specific and limited period of time.

You must be financially self sufficient and you cannot avail of any State benefits on this permission.

There are 3 types of persons who may qualify for stamp 0:

  1. Elderly dependent relatives
  2. Persons of independent financial means (threshold is generally €50,000 per person per year)
  3. Visiting academics-they must be paid from outside the state and work here for less than 9 months

Excluded categories of persons are:

  1. Individuals who are unlawfully present in the State
  2. Individuals who are the subject of a deportation order
  3. Individuals who have been served with a Notification to Deport (15 day letter)

If you are a visa required person you must make an entry visa application.

How to obtain Stamp 0 and register as a non-EEA national

Firstly, you must apply for permission in writing to

Residence Division (Unit 2)
Irish Naturalisation & Immigration Service
Department of Justice and Equality
13-14 Burgh Quay
Dublin 2

You will need certain documents to go with your application-for example, reason for the request, any Irish connections, copy of your passport, etc.

If you are successful you will receive a letter of permission from the INIS (Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service) and this letter will indicate whether your permission is renewable or not.

You must also register at your local immigration office and if your permission is renewed you must renew your registration.

Live with your spouse, family member, partner, or child

Is your spouse or family member an Irish citizen?

This document sets out the policy of the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service in respect of Non-EEA family reunification.

Join husband, wife or civil partner

Marriage to an Irish spouse does not confer an automatic right to live in Ireland. You must apply and fulfill the criteria set out in the policy document.

Civil partner

Having an Irish civil partner does not confer an automatic right either; you can learn more about civil partnership and immigration to Ireland here.

How to apply

There are 2 possible circumstances:

  1. You are a non EEA national who is already legally in the State. If this is your situation you must attend at Garda National Immigration Bureau Registration office with the following documentation:

    Your original marriage/civil partnership certificate
    Your original passport
    Your Irish spouse’s/civil partner’s original passport
    Evidence of your joint address

  2. You are a non EEA national, living in Ireland but who is not legally in the State; in this situation you must apply to
    Spouse of Irish National Unit
    Residence Division
    Irish Naturalisation & Immigration Service
    PO Box 12695
    Dublin 2

You will also need other documentation such as

  • Completed, signed and dated (by applicant and Irish National) Application Form
  • Your original marriage/civil partnership certificate
  • Your original passport(s) and birth certificate
  • Your Irish spouse’s/civil partner’s original passport and birth certificate (Passport Cards are not acceptable)
  • Divorce papers from applicant and/or spouse (if applicable)
  • Evidence of Private Medical Insurance in respect of non EEA national
  • Evidence showing that Irish spouse/civil partner (sponsor) meets the published financial criteria set out at 17.2 of Policy Document on Non-EEA Family Reunification (e.g. P60s for last 3 years, bank statements for previous 6 months, P21 Revenue Commissioner statements, recent pay slips, financial accounts, etc – this list is not exhaustive)

If you have an existing deportation order your application will not be considered. You must apply to have the deportation order revoked to this office:

Acknowledgement Unit,
Repatriation Section,
Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service,
13-14 Burgh Quay,
Dublin 2

During the application process you cannot take up employment unless you are on a work permit.

Successful application

If your application is successful you will be permitted to live in Ireland for 36 months and you may be granted a Stamp 4 status which will allow you to reside and work in the State without the requirement of a Work Permit.

You must also attend, with your spouse, at your local Garda National Immigration Bureau Registration office to be registered as resident in the State on the basis of being the Spouse of an Irish National or the Civil Partner of an Irish national.

If your circumstances change-for example separation or divorce-you must notify your Garda National Immigration Bureau Registration Officer within 7 days.

Live with your de facto long term partner

If your partner is a long term de facto partner, but not a Civil Partner or spouse, the application is slightly different as there is a scheme, De Facto Partnership Immigration Permission (DFPIP) to allow genuine long-term schemes to continue.

What is a de facto partner for the purposes of immigration in Ireland?

For immigration purposes a person may be considered the De Facto Partner, opposite or same sex, of another person if:

they have a mutual commitment to a shared life to the exclusion of all others 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.

A de facto partner can be same sex or opposite sex.

The permission to reside in Ireland on this basis is dependent on the relationship continuing; if it ends, the permission also ends.

Here is an explanatory leaflet in relation to the de facto partnership residence permission.

You will find detailed guidelines about the de facto partnership residence permission here.

You need to note that applications from persons with an existing Deportation Order or a Notification of Intention to Deport under Section 3 of the 1999 Immigration Act will not be considered.

Live with your child

Applications for permission to remain in the State on the basis of parentage of an Irish Citizen Child from a Non-EEA parent who does not have an existing immigration permission must be submitted on the Irish Citizen Child Application Form to Residence Unit 4, INIS, 13/14 Burgh Quay, Dublin 2.

If you are a parent with an existing right of residency (stamp 1 or stamp 2 or stamp 3) can go to your local immigration office to apply to have your stamp upgraded to a stamp 4 which would allow you to take up employment.

You will need

  • your own Passport,
  • your current Irish Residence Permit (IRP) or GNIB Card,
  • your child’s Irish Passport,
  • your child’s Birth Certificate
    documentary evidence of your address in the State
    documentary evidence of your child’s address in the State (eg doctor’s letter or school letter)

You must fulfill the criteria of the Zambrano judgment and use this application form.

If you do not currently have permission to live in the State you must apply for a right to reside and work in Ireland. Applications will be examined on case by case basis having regard to the individual circumstances and information set out in the application form.

You must use this application form.

Join another family member

Firstly, your application must be in accordance with the criteria and policy set out in the Non EEA family reunification document. If your application is successful you will receive a letter setting out the details of your permission and you must then register at your local immigration office.

Need help with an immigration issue? Here is my contact details.

Immigration Law

Residency In Ireland for Non EEA Nationals Under the Start Up Entrepreneur Programme


The Start Up Entrepreneur Programme  is run by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration service.

It allows non-eea nationals and their families acquire residency status in Ireland once they commit to starting a business in Ireland.

The non EEA National can apply for residency as an individual or can apply for themselves and their family. This includes their spouse or partner and minor children-children under the age of 18 years.

If you are successful you and your nominated family members will be granted residency in Ireland for two years; this will be renewable for 3 more years.

After 5 years residence participants in the program will be eligible for long-term residence in Ireland.

However this does not mean that participants are Irish citizens. You can apply for Irish citizenship under the normal rules and criteria for citizenship as set out in Irish Nationality and Citizenship Acts 1957-2004.

Who may apply for residency under the Startup Entrepreneur Programme?  People with a proposal for high potential start up in the innovation economy and funding of €75,000 are eligible.

However, if your business is in retail, personal services, catering or other businesses of this nature you will not qualify.

High potential start-up is a start-up venture led by an experienced management team, is capable of creating 10 jobs in Ireland and realising 1 million euros in sales within 3 to 4 years of starting up and is introducing a new or innovative product or service to international markets.

The application process has two stages

Number one is the application for investment in immigration approval.

This involves the candidates submitting application forms and all supporting documentation as well as details of their enterprise proposals for approval by the evaluation committee. There is an application fee of €350.

Stage 2 of the process involves the issue of residence permission provided that the required funding has been transferred to a financial institution in Ireland. The applicant will also need to submit an affidavit attesting to good character and no criminal convictions.

Documentation and evidence required to support your application will include a comprehensive business plan, the most recent audited accounts for a business if it is an existing business and evidence of funding of €75,000 or more. The applicant will also need to show that the funds are to be used for the proposed startup.

The applicant may also need to show where the funds have come from-that is to say, what is the source of the funds.

It is also necessary to submit a statement of character from the police authorities of each country in which the applicant has resided for more than 6 months during the previous 10 year.

If successful, the applicant will be given a visa allowing them to reside and work in Ireland for two years.

Spouses and minor children are also allowed to accompany the applicant. The residency permission can be renewed for a further three years provided the start-up business remains in place and an assessment by the evaluation committee has been carried out.

Also, the applicant will need to have maintained the good character and not have had recourse to publicly funded welfare programs.

The residency permission can, as I indicated already, be renewed for a further three years. Eligible family members include spouses or partners.

A spouse will need to show a marriage certificate while a partner needs to show evidence that they have lived in cohabitation in a common law or de facto relationship for the previous 2 years. The minor children of the applicant will also qualify for residency status provided that the applicant qualifies for residency status and provided that they are legally in the custody/guardianship of the applicant.

The applicant will need to supply a birth certificate detailing parentage and verifying the custody or guardianship of the children.

The decision of the Minister in respect of an application is final, however, an applicant may apply again at a later date.

Applications must be made to the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service, 13-14 Burgh Quay, Dublin 2.

The application should be accompanied by the travel document of the applicant and any necessary supporting documentation.