Pre-Clearance Process Introduced for Unmarried Partners of Irish Citizens

August 28, 2019 | Ireland

Effective August 19, 2019, a new pre-clearance process is available to the de facto partners of Irish citizens, facilitating the return of Irish emigrants to Ireland with their partners. In Ireland, a de facto partner is an unmarried partner, same- or opposite-sex, who has been in a relationship similar to marriage with, and living with, an Irish citizen for two years or longer.
New process
Under the new process, de facto partners who intend to stay in Ireland for more than 90 days apply for pre-clearance before entering Ireland. They can then register with the Irish Naturalization and Immigration Service (INIS) upon arrival and, thereafter, can begin working. Beginning November 1, 2019 the pre-clearance process will be mandatory. De facto partners wishing to enter Ireland before November 1 can do so with or without pre-clearance.

Previous process
The previous process for de facto partners was started after their entry to Ireland. De facto partners were not allowed to work during the process, which took up to a year.
Processing times
The INIS has advised that processing times should decrease under the new process, but has not made any specific indication of the anticipated processing time. While timeframes should be shorter, applicants will need to delay their entry to Ireland while they await adjudication of their application. Applicants may not be in Ireland while the pre-clearance application is in process.

Spouses
The new pre-clearance process does not currently apply to spouses of Irish citizens returning to Ireland. Visa waived, non-EEA spouses of Irish nationals currently qualify for a streamlined process to enter and work in Ireland, but visa national spouses must wait outside of Ireland for 6-12 months to be authorized to enter.

The new process is another step in a broader INIS initiative to improve customer service.