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Ireland Family Visas

Foreign nationals seeking to move to Ireland to join their spouse, partner, or other family members legally residing in the country, can take the family unification route.

For more information about different options to join your family in Ireland, whether you are eligible, what supporting documents you must have, how you can apply, and to receive bespoke immigration advice and support from our legal advisers, reach out to us today on +353 061 518 025, or contact us online.

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    Overview of Irish Family Visa

    Non-EEA (the EU countries, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway) or non-Swiss nationals, who seek to move to the Republic of Ireland (also referred to as the State) to join their family and stay there for longer than three months, will need to apply for a Long Stay ‘D’-Join Family visa, unless they are from visa-exempt countries for Ireland.

    South African nationals will not need to apply for a ‘D’ visa as South Africa is a visa-exempt country for Ireland. However, other immigration procedures will apply once they are in Ireland to join their family members.

    A South African national travelling to Ireland to join family will have to present their passport and other relevant documents to the Irish immigration officer at the port of entry. Once in Ireland, they will have to make an application to Immigration Service Delivery (ISD) to remain in the State.

    Please note that the application to ISD must be made within 90 days of your arrival in Ireland. If your application is successful, you will then need to visit the registration office in Dublin or a local Garda station if you are living outside of Dublin, along with your sponsoring family member, to register your details.

    Moreover, South African nationals (or citizens of other such visa-exempt countries for Ireland) moving to Ireland to live with their Irish de facto partner, their UK spouse/civil partner, or their Critical Skills Employment Permit holder spouse/civil partner, will have to apply for preclearance.

    To be able to move to Ireland via the family reunification route, the family member you want to join has to be an Irish citizen or a legal resident of the State. A Long Stay ‘D’-Join Family visa or similar immigration permission for visa-exempt country nationals will need sponsorship. We will discuss the different types of sponsorship for family visas later in this article.

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    Who Is Eligible to Apply for an Ireland Family Visa?

    It is important to note that not all family members are eligible to apply for a Long Stay ‘D’-Join Family visa.

    The ‘Policy Document on Non-EEA Family Reunification’, published by ISD, specifies that individuals belonging to the categories mentioned below can be sponsored for a Long Stay ‘D’-Join Family visa:

    • Spouse/civil partner
    • Children below 18 years of age
    • Children below 23 years of age if they are full-time students, and are financially dependent on the parent
    • De facto partners (a cohabiting relationship similar to marriage and which is duly confirmed for a period of more than two years)
    • Parents
    • Other dependent family members

    Children over 18 years of age with any serious medical or psychological problems may also be permitted to apply, if they are dependent on the care of their sponsoring parent and where independent life in the home country is impossible for them due to the aforementioned illnesses.

    Domestic staff or unrelated members of the general household are not covered by this policy.

    Who Is Eligible to Sponsor an Ireland Family Visa?

    Individuals belonging to any of the categories listed below are eligible to act as sponsors for their eligible family members seeking to join them in the State:

    • An Irish national
    • An EEA, Swiss or UK national
    • Category A non-EEA and non-Swiss nationals legally residing in Ireland:
      • An international protection beneficiary whose family reunification case is not covered by the International Protection Act, 2015
      • Critical Skills Employment Permit holders
      • Investors (subject to conditions including no recourse to State funds)
      • Entrepreneurs
      • Business Permit holders
      • Researchers (including Hosting Agreement holders)
      • ISD approved scholarship programme students
      • Intra company transferees
      • PhD students (subject to conditions including no recourse to State funds)
      • Full time non-locum doctors in employment
      • Ministers of Religion (subject to conditions including no recourse to State funds)
    • Category B non-EEA and non-Swiss nationals legally residing in Ireland:
      • General Employment Permit holders
      • Immigration Stamp 4 holders who are not covered by more favourable arrangements

    The visa application process, supporting documentation, and other terms and conditions will vary depending on the legal residence status of the sponsor in Ireland.

    Sponsorship Eligibility Requirements for Irish Nationals

    Irish nationals residing, or intending to reside, in Ireland need to meet a certain financial condition to be eligible for sponsoring their family members.

    Firstly, they must not have been entirely or predominantly reliant on government benefits for a continuous period of more than two years immediately prior to the visa application.

    Additionally, they must have earned €31,000 or more, over and above any State benefits, during the three-year period prior to the visa application. For Irish nationals seeking to sponsor multiple family members, this figure will increase.

    Sponsorship Eligibility Requirements for UK Nationals

    UK citizens are not considered ‘non-nationals’ for the purpose of Irish immigration law.

    A UK national willing to sponsor their eligible family members for family visa must be residing, or intend to reside, in Ireland. They must not be reliant on social welfare benefits for a period of two years or longer immediately prior to the visa application.

    Moreover, they must be able to support the applicant(s) financially without access to public funds. For couples without children, the UK national sponsor must earn €20,000 per annum, over and above any State benefits, during the three-year period prior to the visa application.

    For UK nationals seeking to sponsor multiple family members, this figure will increase.

    If you'd like to join your eligible family member in Ireland, speak to us about an Ireland family visa. Contact Us

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      Sponsorship Eligibility Requirements for EEA or Swiss Nationals

      For an EEA or Swiss national residing in Ireland, their non-EEA/non-Swiss family members will be required to apply for a single journey short-stay ‘C’ visa to enter and reside in the State for up to 90 days.

      If a non-EEA/non-Swiss national wishes to remain in Ireland for more than 90 days as a family member of an EEA/Swiss citizen exercising their free movement rights, they must apply for a Residence Card of a family member of a Union citizen.

      Sponsorship Eligibility Requirements for Non-EEA or Non-Swiss Irish Nationals

      The ‘Policy Document on Non-EEA Family Reunification’ guidelines specify that in case of Category A non-EEA/non-Swiss nationals residing in Ireland, their eligible family members may join them immediately, provided they meet all stipulated family visa conditions.

      Category B non-EEA/non-Swiss nationals will have to be legally working in Ireland for a year, before their eligible family members can apply for family visa, provided they meet all stipulated family visa conditions.

      Category A sponsors will need to maintain their permission to qualify for family reunification, since there is an assumption that they satisfy the financial requirements for family visa sponsorship.

      Category B sponsors must show a minimum earning of €30,000 after tax for two years prior to the visa application. The figure may go over and above that depending on the number of children.

      Family reunification for International Protection Beneficiaries

      According to the International Protection Act 2015, certain family members may join the holder of an international protection declaration residing in Ireland under the family reunification provision.

      A Convention Refugee, a Programme Refugee or a Beneficiary of Subsidiary Protection can apply for family reunification in Ireland. Such an application must be made within 12 months of the receipt of any of these declarations.

      Eligible family members in this case consist of spouse/civil partner (if the marriage/civil partnership commenced before the international protection beneficiary applied for refugee status in Ireland) and unmarried children below 18 years of age.

      If the international protection beneficiary themselves is under 18 and unmarried, they can apply for family reunification with their parents as well as unmarried siblings below 18 years of age.

      Family in the park, enjoying time outside

      What Documents Do I Need to Apply for an Irish Family Visa?

      We have listed below the supporting documents that you will need to submit as part of your application process for Long Stay ‘D’-Join Family visa:

      • Passport
      • Photographs
      • Signed and dated summary form from the online application system
      • Letter of application
      • Proof of finances
      • Previous visa refusals and criminal convictions
      • Medical/travel insurance
      • Fees
      • Translations (if the original documents are not in English)
      • Letters of support from business, company other organisations including educational institutions
      • Proof of sponsor’s eligibility:
        • For an Irish citizen sponsor residing in Ireland, copy of their passport or other documentary evidence attesting to their Irish citizenship
        • For an Irish citizen sponsor residing in a country other than Ireland, copy of their passport showing evidence of their residency in the country of current residence
        • For a non-EEA/non-Swiss citizen sponsor, copy of all pages of their passport, copy of their certificate of registration issued by the Irish immigration authorities, copy of their current employment permit/researcher (scientific) hosting agreement or any other evidence of eligibility to sponsor
      • Proof of claimed relationship with the sponsor (e.g. marriage certificate or civil partnership certificate, birth certificate/adoption order for children etc.
      • Proof of financial and social dependency (where applicable) on the sponsor

      Please also note that if the family visa applicant is visiting another country prior to travelling to Ireland, they must have the relevant visa for that country in their passport before applying for an Irish visa.

      Also, if they are living in another country prior to travelling to Ireland other than their country of citizenship (in this case, South Africa), then they must have the relevant immigration permission for that country in their passport before applying for an Irish visa.

      Please note that the above list is by no means exhaustive in nature. ISD may ask for additional documents depending on your personal circumstances.

      There are different routes to obtain a family visa in Ireland. Speak to our immigration experts today. Contact us

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        How Do I Apply for an Irish Family Visa?

        Once you have confirmed your eligibility, and have arranged for the supporting documents required in your case, please start with filling in the online application form by selecting Long Stay ‘D’-Join Family Visa.

        Please diligently read all the instructions provided in the form and on the Department of Justice website before filling up the form. After completing the online form, please take a printout of the summary form from the online application system, and sign and date the same.

        The signed and dated summary form, along with all supporting documents relevant in your case, must be submitted within 30 days to the relevant visa authority processing your application.

        The address and contact number of Irish embassy in South Africa is provided below:

        Embassy of Ireland
        Building A, 2nd Floor
        238 Florence Ribeiro Avenue
        Nieuw Muckleneuk
        Pretoria
        Phone: +27 12 452 1000

        The visa application must be made from the country where the visa applicant lives.

        Processing Time for Family Visa Ireland

        Processing time of Long Stay ‘D’-Join family visa applications vary between six to 12 months, depending on the types of sponsors.

        For visa applications sponsored by Irish citizens, the processing time is usually six months. For a sponsor residing in Ireland and entitled to immediate family reunification, the application is expected to be completed within six months as well. For all other sponsors, the applications are expected to be completed within 12 months.

        All the abovementioned timelines are subject to change if sufficient level of supporting documentation has not been provided, or if your case has additional complexity involved based on your personal circumstances.

        It is advisable to provide as much information, and as many relevant documents, as possible supporting your visa application in the first place, to avoid unnecessary to and fro between you and the Irish immigration authorities, delaying the processing of your application.

        Ireland Family Visa Application Fees

        A fee of €60 for single entry visa or €100 for multi-entry visa will have to be paid at the time of visa application. This is an administrative fee to cover the processing cost of your application, and as such cannot be refunded even if your application is refused or withdrawn.

        Visa fees are, however, exempted if you are:

        • Family member of an Irish citizen
        • Family member of an EEA/Swiss citizen
        • A Programme Refugee
        Family eating at dining table

        Our lawyers have the expertise and the track-record to maximise your chances of a successful visa application. Contact us

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          What Happens After I Arrive in Ireland?

          Once your visa application is approved and you have arrived in Ireland, please visit the registration office in Dublin (or at a local Garda station if you are living outside of Dublin), within 90 days of your arrival to register your details.

          Non-EEA/non-Swiss foreign nationals will have to pay a registration fee of €300, first time as well as renewals, to get their Irish Residence Permit (IRP) card.

          You are, however, exempt from paying a registration fee if you are:

          • Aged under 18
          • Spouse, civil partner, or widow/er of an Irish citizen
          • Spouse/dependent of an EU national and you have a residence permit
          • A Programme Refugee
          • Joining a family member who is a recognized refugee in Ireland

          Additionally, you are also exempted from paying a registration fee if you have received:

          • Refugee Status under Section 47(1) of the International Protection Act 2015, or
          • Subsidiary Protection under Section 47(4) of the International Protection Act 2015, or
          • Permission to Remain in Ireland under Section 49(4)(a) of the International Protection Act 2015

          What If My Application Has Been Refused?

          If your family visa application is refused, you will receive a letter from the visa office stating the reason why it has been refused and if you can appeal the decision.

          Please note that all visa appeals are handled directly by the Irish Immigration Service. There is no fee. However, your appeal must reach the visa office within two months from the date on the letter of refusal.

          If your appeal is late, the original visa decision cannot be changed. However, you may submit and pay for a new visa application if you wish.

          If you submitted false or misleading information with your original application, you will not be allowed to appeal a visa decision, and may be blocked from applying for an Irish visa for up to five years. The letter of refusal will state if this applies to you.

          If the appellant is a minor (i.e. under 18 years of age), the appeal must be made by their parent or legal guardian (or the parent or guardian’s solicitor or legal representative) on their behalf.

          How Can IAS Help?

          Joining your family in Ireland can be a complex and time-consuming process, depending on your personal circumstances and requirements.

          Family reunification is subject to stringent checks to rule out immigration abuse. For example, a marriage of convenience, where a marriage is entered into for the predominant purpose of obtaining an immigration advantage for one of the parties involved.

          In each family reunification case, ISD thoroughly checks the immigration history of the applicant and also considers the general issues of social and economic policy. The visa applicant and their sponsor both are liable to prove the genuineness of their family relationship to the Irish immigration authorities beyond any reasonable doubt.

          So, even if you meet all eligibility requirements, you must pay due diligence while filling up the relevant form(s) as well as arranging for supporting documentation, for your visa application to be successful.

          IAS can help.

          Our team of immigration advisers have the required expertise and empathy to understand your case and assist you, regardless of the complexity of your case.

          If you are seeking overall advice with your family visa application or you would like an immigration lawyer to oversee your application on your behalf, we are here for you. We also offer document and application checking services if you just need a final check to confirm that your documents and application adhere to ISD regulations.

          To know more about the bespoke services we provide and how we can help you, please call us on +353 061 518 025, or reach out to us online today, to speak to our team of immigration experts.

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                    Related pages for your continued reading.

                    Frequently Asked Questions

                    Yes, provided your adopted child under 18 meets some additional key considerations. You will need to provide evidence supporting that:

                    • The adoption was carried out in Ireland, or is recognised under Irish law
                    • There has been a genuine and complete transfer of parental responsibility to the adoptive parents
                    • The adopted child has the same rights as any other child of the adoptive parents

                    People residing in Ireland on student visas are not eligible to apply for family reunification, except the PhD students.

                    However, there are some exceptions to this rule. For example, if the student has come to Ireland on a recognised scholarship programme from another country, such as the King Abdullah Scholarship Programme, then they may be able to apply for family reunification, subject to ISD stipulated conditions.

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