Have you been living in Ireland for a while and would you like to apply for a change of your immigration status? There’s a specific procedure to follow, as established by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS). This article aims to provide both applicants and legal practitioners with all the information necessary to apply for a change of immigration status while in Ireland.
1. General guidelines
Generally, all non-EEA nationals need permission to remain in Ireland. It is important to register with the Garda National Immigration Bureau (GNIB) on arrival in the country. The permission to stay consists in an endorsement on the passport, called GNIB stamp, showing the conditions and period of time of the permission.
The application for a change of immigration status consists in changing from one category to another, or from one stamp to another, or in the variation of the duration of the permission.
If you have an existing immigration permission which you wish to change, it should be determined first if you meet the necessary criteria. For example, a change of status could be granted in case of marriage to an Irish national.
If you have an immigration permission to stay in Ireland and a valid Irish Residence Permit (IRP) or GNIB card, you can apply for a change of the immigration status. But if you have no current immigration permission you may not apply for the change. In any case, you should do it before your current immigration permission expires.
In order to get an immigration permission to stay in Ireland, persons aged 16 or over must register with the immigration authorities. Registration is the system used to record a person’s permission to be in the country and to provide proof of their permission to legally reside in Ireland. If you are successful in registering, an immigration officer will give you an immigration stamp which, together with the Certificate of Registration, is the proof of the immigration permission printed in the passport.
2. What is a stamp?
Basically, there are different types of stamps:
- Stamp 1: granted to people (e.g. non-EEA nationals who are given a work permit or a Green Card Permit) who can stay in Ireland on condition that their employer has obtained a permit, do not engage in any business without the permission of the Minister for Justice and Equality and do not stay in the country later than a certain date;
- Stamp 2: granted to people (e.g. non-EEA nationals attending a full-time course of study) who can study in Ireland but who can’t engage in any business or profession other than casual work. The person can’t claim any benefits from the State;
- Stamp 3: granted to people (e.g. non-EEA visitors, ministers of religion or religious order, spouse/dependant of employment permit holder) who can stay in Ireland on condition that they do not work, do not engage in any business and do not remain later than a specified date;
- Stamp 4: granted to people (e.g. non-EEA family member of a citizen of one of the EEA countries, programme refugees, non-EEA family member of a European Union citizen) who can stay in Ireland until a specified date and can work or start a business;
- Stamp 5: granted to people who are allowed to stay in the country without limits on the time someone can remain, subject to other conditions;
- Stamp 6: granted to people who are Irish citizens with dual-citizenship.
3. Change of status
As already said, changing status means passing from one stamp to another. Criteria are different according to the stamps. For example, if you have Stamp 1:
- You can change your status to a student (Stamp 2) with an acceptance letter from school/college, evidence of private medical insurance and evidence of finances;
- You can change to a dependent, either as a spouse, civil partner or dependent child of an Irish resident by registering at GNIB (Stamp 3);
- If you have employment permits and residence permission for 5 years you may apply to INIS for long term residence (Stamp 4);
- If you have 96 months reckonable residence you may apply to Residence Division for Stamp 5;
- If you are granted citizenship you may apply to Residence Division for Stamp 6.
It is possible to change status from Stamp 2, 3 and 4 as well. For example:
- If you have Stamp 2 you may apply for Stamp 1 if you are issued with an Employment Permit by Department of Jobs Enterprise and Innovation, or for Stamp 3 and 4, but not for Stamps 5 and 6;
- If you have Stamp 3 you may apply for Stamp 1, for Stamp 2, for Stamp 4 (for example, if you become the parent of an Irish citizen child), as well as for Stamps 5 and 6 (in this latter case, if you are granted citizenship);
- If you have Stamp 4, you can’t apply for Stamps 1, 2 and 3, but you may apply for Stamps 5 and 6.
If you need further information and assistance for the change of immigration status, you can contact us via email at www.modernpolyglots.ie.
By Ilaria Cuppone