Are you a spouse or a partner of EU citizens in Ireland? If yes, do you know you have some rights? No? So, you are on the perfect website. The only answer to your questions is the EU Treaty Rights, which define the rights of Union citizens and their family members to exercise free movement within the territory of the Member States of the EU.  The area is regulated by Directive 2004/38/EC, as implemented in Ireland by the European Communities (Free Movement of Persons) Regulations 2015, which was brought into operation on the 1st of February 2016. In addition, the other key point to get EU Treaty Rights is being a member of the European Economic Area. If you are a national of the European Economic Area (EEA)  you have the right to stay in Ireland, and your family members have the right to also stay here. You can stay in Ireland for up to 3 months without restriction. If you plan to stay more than 3 months, you must either:

  • Be engaged in economic activity (employed or self-employed)
  • Have sufficient resources and sickness insurance
  • Be enrolled as a student or vocational trainee
  • Be a family member of an EU citizen in one of the previous categories.

When you come to Ireland you do not need to register with the local immigration officer and you do not need a residence card to live here. If you wish to have a record of your residence in Ireland you can register with your embassy of your country in Ireland.

However, the point we are interested in is the last point, that is, being a family member of an EU citizen.

If you are an EEA, your family, whatever their nationality, also have the right to live with you in Ireland. This is called qualifying family member, which includes your spouse, civil partner, children under 21 and other children who are dependent on you and their spouses or civil partners, your parents and your spouse or civil partner’s parents, if they are also dependent on you. The wider definition of a family member means that the host member state must facilitate the entry and residence of other family members who do not have an absolute right to move but who are dependent on you or whose state of health requires care from you. Member states must also facilitate the entry and residence of a partner with whom you have a durable relationship. These other dependants or partners who are not qualifying family members are permitted family members. Permitted family members include other family members of the EU citizen who are dependent on the EU citizen, or a member of the EU citizen’s household, or have serious health grounds which requires the personal care of the EU citizen,  or are the de facto partner of the EU citizen. The circumstances of dependency/membership of the same household/serious health grounds must have existed previously in the country from which the family member came from in order for them to fall into the category of permitted family members.


Otherwise, if your family members are not nationals of the EEA, they will need to apply for residence cards and may also need entry visas. There is no fee for the residence card. They will also need to register with immigration and receive an Immigration Certificate of Registration (often called a GNIB card). As dependants of an EEA citizen, they will be exempt from the fee for this certificate. The Directive and Regulations set out a specific application procedure for the granting of visas and EU Fam residence cards for the family members of the EU citizen. Visas for both qualifying and permitted family members are to be issued by way of an “accelerated procedure” and free of charge. Family members who come within the ambit of the Directive and Regulations are provided with a residence card evidencing their entitlement to reside and work in the State for a five-year period. The Minister is obliged to complete the application process within six months.

Successful applicants must then register at the GNIB, while unsuccessful applicants are entitled to have the decision reviewed by way of the review procedure specified in the Directive and Regulations.

However, visa application is the solution for non-EEA nationals. As of September 2013, visa applications under Directive 2004/38/EC or “Free Movement Directive”, have been handled within the Department of Justice separately from applications considered under national law. The most important thing for anyone applying for a visa under the Free Movement Directive is their ability to prove that they are either a qualifying or permitted family member of an EU citizen who plans to use their free movement rights. The applicant must be able to prove that there is an EU citizen with whom they have rights under the Free Movement Directive; the existence of a family relationship to that EU citizen; and that they will be either accompanying or joining the EU citizen in Ireland. It is up to the applicant to provide adequate proof that the EU citizen is using their free movement rights.


When applying under the Free Movement Directive, applicants must provide proof of identity (i.e. valid passports); proof of family linkage (i.e. valid marriage or birth certificate); proof of dependency or membership of household, if relevant; and proof that the EU citizen is exercising free movement rights in Ireland (i.e. proof that the EU citizen is travelling to or already lives in Ireland).

In the case of children under 18 years of age, the consent of both parents is required for the child to travel, especially if they will be separated from one of the parents.

Visa applications for qualifying family members must be processed by way of an accelerated procedure (four weeks) and free of charge. Visa applications for permitted family members are processed in the normal way, and a visa processing fee of €60 will apply.

Whereas, holders of the EU Fam Residence Cards are exempt from the requirement for a visa, and do not fall under the above guidelines.



By Fabiola Sibilla




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