Our Legal Expertise
We have extensive experience in the whole range of immigration, asylum and nationality work, at all levels up to and including The High Court, The Court of Appeal, The Supreme Court of Ireland, The European Court of Justice and The European Court of Human Rights. This includes;
- All Visa Application types (short stay C visas and long stay D visas to Ireland )
Citizenship/ Naturalisation Applications to become a naturalised Irish Citizen
Applications for change of immigration status
International protection applications
Humanitarian Leave applications
Irish Born Child Residency applications (Zambrano)
Complex deportation matters and contesting the issuing and validity of Deportation and Transfer Orders
EU Treaty Rights cases / free movement of workers/ dependent parent applications/ dependent spouse and children applications
De Facto partner residence Applications
Family Reunification Applications
Work Permit applications/ Critical Skills Permit/ General Employment Permit applications
Independent Visas – Stamp 0 Applications
Judicial Review Applications
Immigrant Investor Visas
Immigration Registration Process queries
Long Term Residence Applications
Permission to remain for non-EEA nationals following domestic violence
Any other general immigration queries
We have acted in a number of very high profile cases including Djolo v Minister for Justice Equality & Law Reform, Donatus v Refugee Appeals Tribunal, Gavrilyuk v Minister for Justice Equality, Supreme Court and most recently Gica v The Refugee Applications Commissioner, Supreme Court.
We have had high profile successes just recently in the ground-breaking EU Free movement cases of Mahmood and Atif v Minister for Justice and Equality delivered on 14th October 2017 and Mohammed Ahsan v Minister for Justice Equality
Our solicitors specialise in representing clients and in preparing detailed grounds of appeal and submissions on their behalf in every aspect of immigration.
Sinnott Solicitors specialise in obtaining Irish Citizenship/Naturalisation for many of our clients. This can be a complex process for those who are not familiar with the rules surrounding the entitlement to a grant of Irish Citizenship but we are on hand to guide you through it. There are many ways within which to become an Irish Citizen. Some of those include foreign birth registration application based upon Irish Grandparents, legal residence in the State for five years, citizenship on the basis of having an Irish born child, parent or other close family member and citizenship based upon being the spouse of an Irish National. Sinnott Solicitors are experienced in challenging Citizenship refusals by initiating High Court applications on behalf of our clients. Some of those cases have made their way all the way to the Irish Supreme Court. Through initiating High Court challenges on behalf of our clients, Sinnott Solicitors have been instrumental in shaping the law on Citizenship in Ireland.
There are many rules in relation to citizenship which applicants need to be familiar with prior to making the application. For example, absences of more than six weeks in the year prior to making the application must be explained. The reason for the absence, purpose of the trip, dates of the flights and specific details in relation to the absence must be submitted as part of the application. There are different types of application forms necessary in relation to certain applicants such as minors, young adults, naturalised parents on behalf of minors, applications for minors of Irish decent or Irish associations and applications on behalf of minors who are not entitled to Irish Citizenship at birth. It is important that the correct form is used in making the application. Certain documents must also be certified, translated and in some cases notarised as part of a citizenship application. Each application must be sworn by the Applicant in front of a Solicitor, Commissioner for Oaths or a Peach Commissioner prior to submission.
Sinnott Solicitors have obtained international protection on behalf of thousands of our clients over the years. There are a number of ways within which to obtain international protection namely refugee status, subsidiary protection and humanitarian leave to remain. We can advise upon the rights of migrants to work and family reunification in this context. International protection law is complex and difficult to navigate and we can assist our clients in guiding them through that complex process.
An application for international protection will first be assessed to establish the relevant facts and circumstances. After that assessment, an International Protection Officer will examine an application in order to recommend whether or not the Applicant should be given a refugee declaration or a subsidiary protection declaration. That International Protection Officer will then make a recommendation based upon the examination and send it to the Minister for Justice who will notify the Applicant about the recommendation. The International Protection Officer will examine the application in order to decide whether the Application should be given a refugee declaration, a subsidiary protection declaration or neither of those declarations. If the International Protection Officer recommends that the Applicant should be given a refugee declaration, the Minister for Justice & Equality will issue that declaration. If the International Protection Officer recommends that the Application should be given a subsidiary protection declaration or no declaration, a copy of the report will be sent to the Applicant and the Applicant can appeal to the International Protection Appeals Tribunal against the recommendation. That appeal may be conducted with or without an oral hearing and the Applicant will be represented at the appeal by the Applicant’s Solicitor and/or Counsel. If the decision of the Tribunal is not to allow the appeal, the Applicant can then submit information to the Minister about a change of circumstances or other information that would be relevant when permission to remain in the State is being considered. Based upon that information, the Minister will review the previous decision to refuse permission for the Applicant to remain.
In order to take up employment in the State, a person must be in possession of a valid work permit or a valid green card. All non-EEA Nationals who are already lawfully resident in the State and who hold a valid certificate of registration with stamp 1, 1A, 2, 2A or 3 may apply for an employment permit if offered employment in an eligible occupation. Employment permits cannot be granted in circumstances where the job is listed in the ineligible categories of employment. The Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation assesses the skills, labour market shortages and appropriateness of salary level. If an application for a work permit is successful, permission to remain will be in the form of an endorsement in the Applicant’s passport confirming the conditions and period of time for which the Applicant has permission to remain in the State for the purpose of employment. In the event that a non-EEA worker is made redundant, certain policies apply and applications can be made in order to ensure that the Applicant remains in the State. Once an employment permit expires, then there are certain procedures in place for the renewal of employment permits.
An Applicant’s right to family reunification will depend on the nature of the Applicant’s legal residence in the State. EEA Nationals and persons granted international protection in the State have a legal right to family reunification for certain family members. An Applicant’s ability to sponsor a family member depends on what the Applicant’s immigration status is. There are different processes depending on the Applicant’s status. it would be necessary in every case for family reunification to find out what the immigration status of the sponsor is. It is also necessary to determine whether the family member is already in Ireland and if not whether a visa is required. The relationship of the family member is also very important. For example, a parent, child, spouse or sibling would be more likely to be granted family reunification as an immediate family member. The INIS non EEA policy document on family reunification contains categories of family members. The categories are immediate family members which are spouses, de facto partners and minor children, parents and other family. In November 2019, new rules came into place for non-EEA de facto partners of Irish Citizens who must apply for immigration preclearance before travelling to Ireland. Irish Citizens do not have an automatic right to family reunification even with immediate family members. Applications for family reunification are dealt with under the non-EEA policy document on family reunification. If a family member is already in Ireland, an Applicant can submit an application for a residence card to the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service. If the family member is not in Ireland, the Applicant should check whether a visa is required to enter Ireland. If a family member does not need an entry visa to travel to Ireland, then a C Visa application is the appropriate application to make. If the Applicant does require an entry visa to travel to Ireland, then a D Visa application is applicable.
A visa is a document which is attached to a person’s passport which permits them to travel to the Irish state during certain dates which are specified on the visa.
Non-EEA nationals from certain countries are required to apply for a visa prior to travelling to Ireland (these persons are known as visa required nationals). Citizens of certain other non-EEA countries such as the USA, Australia, South Africa (also known as non-visa required citizens) do not need to apply for a visa prior to travelling to the Irish state. Regardless of whether a person requires a visa or not, entry to the state is always at the discretion of the immigration officer at the point of entry.
One of the most common type of visas is a Spouse Visa and are generally granted to spouses of Irish citizens, EU nationals, or non-EEA nationals who are resident in Ireland on a valid immigration permission.
Visa required national spouses of Irish citizens must apply for a Long Stay D visa prior to travelling to Ireland. If the visa is approved, they will be granted a D visa which permits them to travel and after arrival and registering with their local immigration office, they will be granted a Stamp 4 permission to remain in the Republic of Ireland.
Visa required spouses of EU citizens must apply for a Short Stay C visa to join or accompany their EU citizen family member to the state and after they arrive, they are then required to submit an application for a residence card to reside in the state with their family member who is exercising EU Treaty Rights. If the application is successful, they will be granted a 5-year residence card (an EUFAM4 permission to remain) which allows them to reside in Ireland.
Family members of employment permit holders are subject to varying rules. The spouse of a Critical Skills Employment Permit holder may apply for a visa to enter Ireland at the same time as their spouse, whilst spouses of General Employment Permit holders must wait for 12 months before they can apply for a visa to enter Ireland as the dependent family member of their spouse.
Similarly, holders of a Stamp 4 permission to remain (unless they previously held a Critical Skills Employment Permit) must wait for 12 months before they can apply for family reunification for their spouse.
Spouses of Refugees or Subsidiary Protection Holders must apply for family reunification within 12 months of the spouse being granted their status, and if approved, apply for a D visa to enter the State. The marriage must have been in existence when the application for international protection was made.
Judicial Review is primarily concerned with the decision making process rather than the substance of the decision. It is a way for the High Court to supervise the lower Courts and Tribunals and other administrative bodies in order to ensure that their decisions are properly reached and in accordance with Law. A decision of a Tribunal or public body may be set aside on the basis that it is unreasonable, unlawful and possibly disproportionate. In order to make an application for judicial review, it is firstly necessary to apply to the High Court by way of an application for leave to bring judicial review proceedings. The Applicant must show that the Applicant has sufficient interest in the matter. The leave stage is a mechanism for the High Court to identify the issues at an early stage and to identify the grounds upon which the Applicant is entitled to seek judicial review. An application is based upon a statement of grounds. The Respondent or public body who wishes to oppose an application for judicial review is required to file a statement of opposition. A replying Affidavit may also be filed by the public body contesting the facts set out by the Applicant. Once the pleadings are closed, the matter proceeds to a hearing. A number of remedies are available for the Courts to grant to the Applicant if the Application is successful. The Court may make an order quashing the decision of the public body, prohibiting the public authority from acting unlawfully, compelling the public body to perform a legal duty and the Court may award damages to an Applicant and costs.
Member States are entitled to restrict the exercise of EU Treaty Rights but only in very limited circumstances on the grounds of public health, public security and public policy. There has been numerous cases before the Courts on those policy issues to determine whether member States are entitled to restrict rights of EU Nationals in certain circumstances. Where an EU National with a non-EEA minor child intends to reside in the State with children for longer than three months, then an application must be submitted on behalf of each child for permission to reside in the State as a family member of an EU Citizen. An application for a permanent residence card must be made six months before the expiry of the residence card.
Visas must be applied for online unless a person is resident in Ireland and applying for a re-entry visa. The visa process is a complex process and set of rules. For those who are not familiar with the rules surrounding visas, it is advisable to obtain specific immigration advice before making an application for a visa. Many Applicants are unaware of the volume of information required in order to make a visa application.
There are certain factors that the Minister would take into account when deciding whether an undocumented migrant would be permitted to remain in the country. A very detailed and well put together application is essential. An application would typically deal with matters such as the Applicant’s immigration history and residency in the State, employment records, social service benefits claimed, integration into Irish society, criminal record, previous records with the immigration authorities in Ireland, any outstanding deportation or removal orders, any public policy considerations, the specific skill set and qualifications and achievements of the Applicant and numerous other personal details of the Applicant. If an Applicant is successful in having their immigration regularised within the State, the Minister will permit the Applicant leave to remain in the State thereby becoming a lawful resident in Ireland.
The law in this area is complex and the process can be difficult to navigate and it is essential that the Applicant is fully advised in relation to the application process and the potential outcome of the application.
Stamp 0 is an application that can be made by Applicants of independent means who can support themselves in the State during their stay. There are three types of Applicants that may apply for Stamp 0 permission and they are elderly dependent relatives, persons of independent means and visiting academics/researchers. Applicants who are not lawfully in the State are not entitled to make an application for Stamp 0 permission. A visa required Applicant is required to make an application from outside the State. An Applicant who is a non-visa required person can make the application from inside or outside the State. A successful Applicant for a stamp 0 permission will receive a letter setting out the conditions of the permission and an agreement form for the Applicant to sign. That letter is required in order to obtain the stamp 0 visa permission. The conditions of a stamp 0 permission are as follows:-
- The Applicant is not permitted to work in the State or to establish or operate a business or to engage in a profession
- The person or organisation sponsoring the Applicant’s presence in the State is responsible for providing the Applicant with accommodation and general upkeep
- If the Applicant is of self-sufficient or independent means, then the Applicant must support themselves
- The Applicant is not permitted to have a family member join on the basis that they are resident in the State
- The Applicant is not permitted to receive State benefits nor is a sponsor entitled to apply for State benefits on the Applicant’s behalf.
- The Applicant must have private medical insurance to cover the duration of the stay and it must cover the Applicant for medical treatment and hospital accommodation in the State
- The Applicant must abide by the laws of the State
- The Applicant must reside continuously in the State. Continuous residency means living in the State for the period covered by the temporary and limited permission allowing for reasonable periods of absence from the Sate for holidays, exceptional family circumstances or commitments outside the State
The Applicant’s initial permission is valid for a period of one year. The application for renewal must be applied for well in advance of the expiration of the Stamp 0 permission. The stamp 0 application can be a complex process for those who are not familiar with the rules surrounding the permission and an Applicant will often require very specific immigration advice in order to ensure that the application is properly submitted.
Examples of where a person is granted a Stamp 4 permission to remain would be where a person is married to or in a civil partnership with an Irish citizen, defacto partners of Irish citizens, parents of Irish citizen children, Refugees, Subsidiary Protection holders, beneficiaries of the Immigrant Investor Programme and Start Up Entrepreneur Scheme, former employment permit holders, and persons who are granted Humanitarian Leave to Remain in the state.
A stamp 4 permission to remain allows Applicants to reside in Ireland to study, to work and set up businesses without restriction. After a period of five years, the Applicant may wish to consider applying for Irish Citizenship. The application is a complex process for those who are not familiar with the rules surrounding it and an Applicant is strongly advised to obtain very specific legal and immigration advice prior to submitting the application to INIS.
An Applicant may apply for the STEP programme if the Applicant is a person of good character, has not been convicted of criminal offences in any jurisdiction, has the required €50,000 funding available and has an innovated business proposal.
If the Applicant is successful and the proposal is deemed suitable by the evaluation committee and the Minister for Justice and Equality, the Applicant will be issued with a letter granting the Applicant permission to reside in the State on a stamp 4 basis. Funds will be required to be transferred to an Irish bank account before the final letter of approval issues. Private medical insurance is also a requirement. Visa required applicants who are successful must apply for an entry visa in order to enter the State.
Successful applicants will be granted residence for a period of two years initially and subject to complying with the grant of the initial permission, may be eligible for an extension of their residence permission for a further three years. Renewal applications will be entertained on the basis that the business has remained in place throughout the two year period and certain other conditions. Immediate family members such as the Applicant’s spouse, civil partner or partner and dependent children may be included as dependents in an application and will be granted stamp 4 permission to remain should the application be successful. After a five year period, an Applicant can apply for long term residence and Irish Citizenship.
It is important that an application for independent status is properly prepared and advised upon prior to submission to the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service. The Applicant should have some form of current immigration status as the dependent of an Irish National or of a foreign national who has received permission to live in Ireland. If the Applicant’s immigration status has lapsed, an application can still be made but it must be clearly stated as to why the permission was not renewed. Certain documents will be required in order to make an independent application on the basis of the fact that the Applicant is a victim of domestic violence. It is important to obtain a very detailed personal statement outlining the history of the violence preferably in chronological order. The statement should set out the history of the relationship, the demise of the relationship, the incidents of domestic violence and any other relevant information. It is also necessary to submit as much documentation as possible in support of such an application. For example, an Applicant may have obtained a protection order or a safety order from the Courts. Medical reports may be required where injuries were consistent with domestic violence. A Garda report of incidents of domestic violence may be required. It may be necessary to provide a letter from a State body indicating that it is dealing with an Applicant’s case as an issue of domestic violence. It may be necessary to provide a letter of support from a domestic violence support organisation or any other evidence indicating that the Applicant is a victim of domestic violence. There is no application fee for such an application.
If the application is successful, the immigration status granted is the same as that which was previously referred to as a dependent. That is normally a stamp 3. However, if the Applicant is successful, then generally the Applicant would be permitted to reside in the State on a stamp 4 basis allowing the Applicant to work.
Another immigration permission is called without condition as to time permission. An Applicant may apply for without condition as to time permission and obtain a stamp 5 endorsement on their passport if the Applicant has completed eight years legal residence in Ireland under the appropriate permission. Certain other conditions must be met such as good character and unbroken residency. A stamp 5 permission means that the holder has an immigration permission to be in the country and the right to work without the need for an employment permit. It does not confer upon the holder any entitlement to any particular public service funding. If you have any queries in relation to these types of immigration permissions, Sinnott Solicitors would be happy to advise you.