What is the change? The Minister for Justice and Equality has launched a new pre-travel procedure for unmarried (“de facto”) partners of Irish citizens, who are citizens of non-EEA countries and who wish to move to Ireland.

What does the change mean? Under the new process, de facto partners of Irish citizens, who have been living together for at least the past two years, will now be able to apply for recognition of their relationship before moving to Ireland. Previously, these applications had to be filed after the couple moved to Ireland, and could take up to one year to process.

  • Effective date: Nov. 1.
  • Who is affected: Unmarried (“de facto”) partners of Irish citizens, whether same- or opposite-sex, who have been living together outside of Ireland for at least the past two years. The process does not apply to couples already living in Ireland, or those moving to Ireland for less than 90 days.

Additional information: Previously, de facto partners who were citizens of non-EEA countries had to undergo a lengthy and uncertain process in order to obtain residency in Ireland. They were required to first move to Ireland and then apply for recognition of their relationship, a document-heavy application that would often take up to one year to be processed. By allowing couples to obtain relationship recognition before moving to the country, de facto partners are treated the same as legally-married spouses and same-sex couples with civil partnership certificates, and can immediately apply for a residency card.

Pre-clearance applications will still require extensive documentary evidence, and further details on the requirements have now been outlined as part of this preclearance application. Examples include: proof that the couple has lived together for at least two years, six months of bank statements, evidence that the Irish partner meets certain financial criteria, police clearance certificates, and evidence of private health insurance in Ireland are required.

Analysis & Comments: The change is welcome news for unmarried partners of Irish citizens living abroad, including their children under 18, as they will able to apply for permission to live and work in Ireland soon after arriving, without having to apply for recognition of their relationship. However, the new pre-clearance process means that couples will have to plan well in advance of their move. In addition to the pre-clearance application, de facto partners from certain countries may also need an Irish visa before traveling. Please check with your Deloitte professional to discuss eligibility and current processing timelines.

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