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This page offers information to help you navigate the Irish immigration system with your de facto partner who is a citizen of country outside of the European Union (EU), European Economic Area (EEA), United Kingdom (UK), or Switzerland.

Eligibility

For immigration purposes, the Department of Justice defines ‘de facto partner’  as a partner who you are cohabiting with but are not married to or in a civil partnership with. Your relationship must meet all of the following criteria:

  • Two years cohabitation (living together)
  • Mutual commitment to shared life to the exclusion of all others, like a marriage (though not in law)
  • Genuine and continuing relationship
  • Not related by family

There is no automatic entitlement for de facto partners of Irish citizens to live in Ireland. As a citizen of a country outside of the EU/EEA/UK/Switzerland, your de facto partner must first receive permission from the Irish Immigration Service Delivery before travelling to Ireland. In order to be granted permission, your partner will need to provide sufficient proof of your relationship, joint address, finances, and other documentation – learn more here and read our step-by-step guide below.

Guide

The following is a step-by-step guide on the Irish immigration process for de facto partners of Irish citizens. While this page is updated regularly to reflect any developments, please remember that it is only a guide – always check irishimmigration.ie or contact your local Irish embassy or consulate for the latest official instructions.

STEP 1: Apply for immigration preclearance before travelling to Ireland

Your de facto partner must apply for and be granted a visa or preclearance before they can come to Ireland. This applies to citizens of both visa-required countries and non-visa required countries, though the process differs slightly depending on this.

The application is made through the Irish AVATS online visa system. When your partner selects their country of nationality when filling in the application, the system will prompt them to select from a series of options under ‘what is the reason for travel?’:

  • If your de facto partner is a citizen of a visa-required country, they should select ‘Join Family (Irish nat.) (de facto partner)
  • If your de facto partner is citizen of a non-visa required country, they should select ‘Preclearance – Join Family (Irish nat.)(de facto partner)’

Visa and preclearance processes can take months, so be sure to plan your return accordingly. Current processing times in the Dublin visa office are published here. Your partner can save their progress and exit the visa/preclearance form for up to 30 days after starting.

Once your partner completes an online application, they must submit a printed and signed application along with supporting documentation within 30 days. The process for submitting supporting documentation depends on where the applicant applies from. Instructions will be listed on the printed confirmation, but we recommend contacting local Irish embassy or consulate to find out any specific instructions and requirements prior to submitting. When shipping documentation, we always advise using registered post or a service that offers tracking.

Decisions, Refusals, and Appeals: Regardless of the outcome, your partner will be informed via letter of the decision on their visa application. If your partner’s application is refused, they can appeal this decision within eight weeks of the refusal letter. Contact our office if you need support on appeals.

Once your partner’s application is approved, they can travel to Ireland. The visa or preclearance letter is typically valid for six months. If your partner does not travel to Ireland within this period, they must submit a new application – be sure to factor this into your plans.

STEP 2: Arrive in Ireland (Border Control)

Upon arrival at passport control in Ireland, your partner should tell the immigration officer that they plan to apply for residency in Ireland based on their de facto partnership with an Irish citizen. They should provide the officer with their:

  • Valid passport
  • Preclearance letter
  • Visa (if required)

It can also be useful to have other supporting documents ready, including bank statements, job offers, proof of address, and more. However, you do not need to give these to the immigration officer unless requested.

If possible, we recommend that you travel to Ireland with your partner, accompanying them through border control in the non-EU queue. If you cannot arrive with your partner, make sure that they have your contact details – a copy of your Irish passport can also ease this process.

Once the immigration officer is satisfied with the information provided, they will place a landing stamp in your partner’s passport giving them entry permission to stay in Ireland up until the date indicated (usually a maximum of 90 days).

STEP 3: Register for Residency Permission

Once in Ireland, your partner will need to register for permission to live and work here based on your relationship. They must register within 90 days or before the date on their entry stamp—whichever comes first. This is the case even if your partner did not require a visa to enter Ireland.

Information on registering for immigration permission for the first time is available on the Irish Immigration site. The registration process differs depending on where you live:

You as the Irish citizen must attend registration appointment with your partner.

Generally, registration is a straightforward process, but make sure you are prepared! Documents to bring include:

  • Original passports (not photocopies)
  • Proof of joint address in Ireland
  • Proof of finances: €40,000 gross income (pre-tax) over past three years (approximately €13,300 per year)
  • Evidence of your partner’s pre-clearance permission or entry visa

In some cases, if you and your partner do not provide adequate documentation, your partner may be asked to make a written application for residency which can take twelve months to process. If this happens, contact our office if you need support.

STEP 4: Post-Registration

If residency permission is granted, your partner will be given a Stamp 4 which grants them permission to live and work in Ireland for the length of time stated on the stamp in their passport. They will also be issued an Irish Residency Permit (IRP) card via post. Make a note of the date at which this permission must be renewed.

Be sure that your partner informs ISD of any change of address within two days of moving. If circumstances change (for example, if your relationship status changes), they also must inform ISD.

Citizenship

If you have been married for at least three years and your spouse resided for at least three of the last five years, they may be eligible for Irish citizenship by naturalisation. Learn more about eligibility and applying for citizenship on the Citizens Information website.

Webinar

We regularly run information sessions on navigating the immigration system non-Irish loved ones. Watch back our recent webinar on returning to Ireland with a non-Irish spouse or partner below. Keep an eye on our events page for announcements and details on upcoming sessions.

Page last updated on 17 June, 2024

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