If you are a non-European (or non-EEA) partner of an Irish citizen, then there was good news this morning as Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan announced that such partners will now be allowed to apply for permission to live and work in Ireland in advance of arriving in the country.
This pre-clearance immigration scheme for de-facto partners, which we at Moving2Ireland have been advocating for over a year, has the potential to speed up and streamline the immigration process for the non-European (non-EEA) partners of Irish citizens who may not be married or enjoy civil partnership status.
To be clear for immigration purposes, a person may be considered the de-facto partner of an Irish citizen, and eligible to avail of the new scheme announced today if “they have a mutual commitment to a shared life to the exclusion of all others akin to a marriage or civil partnership in practice though not in law.” The scheme applies to both opposite- and same-sex couples.
Under the previous system, the application process for de-facto partners could only begin after their arrival in the state and may have taken up to a year to complete. This was a major headache for many couples, as it meant that they may have had to survive for 12 months on one salary (that of the Irish citizen), not to mention the potential social integration issues faced by the non-European (or non-EEA) partner during this time.
Now, once pre-clearance has been granted, applicants can arrive and register with the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) immediately, and will have access to the labour market straight away. This is a crucial development and one that could make it extremely more attractive for Irish emigrants to return home.
Speaking on today’s announcement, Minister Flanagan had this to to say:
Pre-clearance will provide greater certainty for people considering or planning on moving back home to Ireland with their non-EEA de facto partner.
He also added that:
I hope this will encourage more people to come home. In recent times, many of our young and our most highly educated citizens have emigrated.
They may have wanted to further their careers, make more money, or simply to experience the wider world. While away, some have met life partners and perhaps even started their own families.
We want to show these people that Ireland is ready to welcome them home and that we will provide a clear immigration and labour market pathway for their de-facto partners.”
Easier for non-European partners of Irish citizens to move to Ireland
On a personal level, we are very pleased that Minister Flanagan has agreed to adopt this sensible scheme that will make it far easier for partners and families of Irish citizens to make the move to Ireland. This is a policy that we feel can be a real game-changer for the Irish diaspora globally and is something that we raised with both Minister for the Diaspora Ciaran Cannon and relevant government stakeholders on a number of occasions throughout the last 12 months.
While it is easy to knock the government for their lack of action on many issues regarding returning Irish emigrants, there is no doubt that credit is due for making this Indecon Report recommendation a reality. However, we still feel that more can be done to make it more straight-forward for Irish emigrants and their partners to return home.
We hope that it is one of many recommendations that will be enacted to make it easier for returning emigrants, and their partners and families, to move to Ireland in 2019 and beyond.