European Union citizens who come to work in Ireland enjoy certain rights that are enshrined in European law. Such rights, unfortunately, do not extend beyond the European Union. Prospect Law has extensive experience in advising people from all over the world who have come to live in Ireland. We are familiar with all of the immigration and asylum issues affecting the ‘new Irish’ and their families, some of whom have been living in Ireland for a number of years. We have a special interest in immigration law, and have helped numerous clients seeking asylum, permanent residency, citizenship, and family reunification. Other clients include those with visa issues, and those fighting deportation orders.

EU citizen rights

Family members often wish to know what personal rights, if any, they have to retain their residency here following a separation or divorce, or their departure from Ireland. Another area of concern is family reunification. Many applications, whether for residency or otherwise, are straightforward. In our experience, however, some of these applications, particularly those for family reunification, raise technical and complicated issues of EU law. If you are affected by these issues, Prospect Law has the knowledge and experience to advise you. We assist our clients with preparing their applications, advise on supporting documentation and on meeting departmental requirements.

Family reunification

If you are a citizen of another EU Member State, you are entitled to live, work and/or study in Ireland, as long as you can demonstrate that you have the necessary resources to do so. Further, you are entitled to be joined by your spouse and dependent child or children, should you have them. You may also be entitled to be joined by your partner, parents, dependants and/or other members of your household, depending on the circumstances. Applications for family reunification are made to the Department of Justice and Equality. The Department is obliged to determine your application within six months and to grant you temporary permission to remain in Ireland pending its decision. If your application is approved, the State will issue residency permission for five years, and if you are refused, you have fifteen days in which to file an application for review.

Zambrano applications

In a landmark decision in March 2011, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled that it was illegal for a member state to refuse residency to a third country national where that person had a dependent child who was an EU citizen resident in a member state. Such a refusal amounted to a breach of Article 20 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. In response, the Department of Justice and Equality introduced an administrative scheme whereby a non-EU parent of an Irish-born dependent citizen child living in Ireland could be granted residency on what is termed a ‘stamp 4’ basis. These are termed ‘Zambrano applications’ (after the litigant who took the relevant case to the ECJ). While such applications, in our experience, can be straight forward, this is not always the case. Difficulties may arise if, for example, the parent or the child has left the EU, the child has reached the age of eighteen;, or the parents have separated.

Retention of residency

If you have separated or divorced, you may wish to know what rights, if any, you have to retain your residency in your own right, or following your departure from Ireland. In our experience, if you find yourself in these or similar circumstances, it is essential to obtain legal advice as early as possible. While Directive 2004/38 EC provides certain rights to retain residency, the problem arises where a couple have separated, but are not yet entitled to institute divorce proceedings due to the legal requirements in force here. In a recent case, the High Court held that the 2004 directive must be read in a manner that allows a non-EU spouse to initiate divorce proceedings before his or her residency is revoked hence the need to take urgent action.

If your marriage has irretrievably broken down, and your spouse is a citizen of the European Economic Area*, we can help you, as an EU citizen, to secure permission to remain in Ireland.

* The EAA includes Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein in addition to EU member states.

Permanent residency

If you have been granted permission to remain in Ireland for five years, it is open to you to apply for permanent residency upon the expiry of that permission. Permanent residency entitles you to remain here for ten years.

Non-European Union migrants

Prospect Law routinely deals with applications for asylum, citizenship and family reunification, and deportation orders. If you have been forced to flee from your country because of war, you may be entitled to seek asylum in Ireland.

In relation to applications for citizenship, generally, it may be useful to know that Irish citizens and residents may apply for immigration permission to be granted to their non-EU spouse or civil partner, children and/or dependents. However, these applications can be complicated and, depending on individual circumstances, certain criteria may have to be met.

Applications for citizenship are determined by the Minister for Justice. However, in our experience, you may still have legal options if your application is refused.

Family reunification

If you are living in Ireland without your spouse and/or children, to be joined by them after a period of separation is life changing. We have helped many of our clients reunite with their families after years of enforced separation. As an Irish citizen living in Ireland, if you have a spouse or civil partner, and/or dependent children living overseas, outside the European Union, you may apply for permission for them to join you. Applications for family reunification can be complicated, however, and certain criteria, depending on your family’s circumstances, must be met.

Deportation orders

If you are notified that the State proposes to deport you or, worse still, receive a deportation order, you must seek legal advice without delay. Deportation orders issued by the Minister for Justice and Equality are permanent. If a person served with a deportation order leaves Ireland voluntarily or is deported, that deportation order will remain in force. If you have been served with a ‘three options’ letter, notifying you that the State proposes to deport you, or that a deportation order has been made against you that you wish to challenge or appeal, we will advise.