In a much-welcomed announcement today, the Minister for Justice and Equality Mr Charlie Flanagan announced a new Preclearance procedure for Non-EEA Defacto partners of Irish citizens seeking to move to Ireland to live and work with their Irish citizen partner for a period of longer than 90 days.

Previously applicant’s seeking to apply for Defacto permission to remain could only apply from inside of the State. With applications taking approximately twelve months or more to process, this left many applicants in a limbo situation being allowed to remain in the State lawfully but being unable to work whilst their applications were being processed.

Under the new Pre-Clearance scheme all non-EEA nationals seeking to apply for Defacto permission to remain as the partner of an Irish citizen, whether from visa or

non-visa required countries, must submit an application to be granted preclearance to the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service. Applications will be accepted from today the 19th of August 2019; however, a transition period will be applicable up until the 1st of November 2019 whereby individuals may enter without preclearance up until the 31st of October 2019.

From the 1st of November 2019 persons seeking to be granted this immigration permission must present a Preclearance letter to immigration officers in order to be granted entry.

Following entry successful applicants will be granted a Stamp 4 permission to remain for a period of one year which will allow a person to work in paid employment or voluntarily, to set up a business and to study in the State.  This permission also allows a person to travel freely into and out of the State in addition to immediate family reunification for children (under 18 and up to the age of 23 when in full time education).

The permission is renewable subject to the conditions of the original grant being complied with.

After five years of lawful residency a person may be eligible to apply for Irish citizenship.

Applications will take approximately six months to process according to the INIS guidelines.

Who can apply?

The scheme is open to Defacto Partners of Irish citizens who are in a loving and durable relationship and have resided with their partner for a minimum of two years prior to the application. Applicants must be 18 years of age or over and be able to provide police clearance certificates for each country in which they have resided for the previous five years. Private medical insurance is required however in the first-year travel insurance may be acceptable.

Irish citizen requirements

The Irish citizen must intend to reside in the State and must reside here with their non-EEA national partner following the grant of their partners immigration permission. They must not have sponsored another non-EEA national, or have been sponsored themselves in the case of naturalised Irish citizens in the 7-year period prior to the application for Preclearance.

In terms of financial criteria, the Irish citizen must not have been fully reliant on welfare payments for two years prior to the application and must have earned over and above any welfare payments in the three-year period prior to the application, the sum of €40,000 gross.

Visa required nationals

Visa required nationals must submit the application for Preclearance before applying for a visa to enter the State.  Once they have received approval, the Preclearance Letter of Approval must be submitted with their passport, visa application summary, photographs and relevant processing fee where applicable.

Applicants from China, Pakistan, India and Nigeria who are required to give their biometric information for visa applications must submit their visa application at the same time as submitting the Preclearance application.

Non visa required nationals

A non-visa required national entering the State to reside with their Irish citizen partner must show the Preclearance Letter of Approval to the Immigration Officer at passport control upon arrival to the State, otherwise entry will be denied.

Sinnott Solicitors Analysis

The new Preclearance Scheme is an extremely welcomed development by the INIS which will be most encouraging for Irish citizens and their partners who are considering relocating to the State. We have witnessed many clients who have had no option but to enter and reside in the State in order for their applications to be submitted thereafter waiting in the State for periods of twelve months or more whilst their applications have been processed, and being unable to access the labour market or study during this entire period. It has left many people in an extremely difficult situation of limbo and uncertainty waiting for their applications to be processed, being unable to seek employment or make secure plans for the future. It has also placed a considerable financial strain on many couples when only the Irish citizen has been allowed to work whilst the application has been processed.

The new Preclearance procedure offers greater security and certainty to applicants in circumstances where they can remain in their county of residence whilst their application is being processed allowing them to work and continue on with their lives outside of the State until their application is approved. They are also certain of their immigration status on arrival and know that they will have immediate access to the labour market which will allow them to seek employment before entering should they wish.

We note that processing times are currently expected take 6 months. We hope that the INIS will meet this target and that applications will not take longer to process.

If you have any queries on your application for Defacto Permission to Remain as the Partner of an Irish national or wish to discuss any immigration matter, do not hesitate to contact the office of Sinnott Solicitors today on  +35314062862 or