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Visas, Residency, Immigration & Documentation

Ireland - Visas, Residency, Immigration & Documentation



Visas

When applying for a visa to visit or live in the Republic of Ireland there are a number of ways to do so and different requirements for each type of visa. It is the responsibility of the applicant to ensure that all the relevant information has been passed to the visa officer processing the application.

A request for a visa – no matter how long the visit or the reason for the stay – should be made at least eight weeks before you plan to go there and you should ensure that all the relevant documentation is included with the application. You may be able to apply online, although original documentation should be sent by post. The Department of Foreign Affairs in the Republic of Ireland has a website which lists the embassies and consulates around the world that can deal with visa applications.

Once your application has been received it may need to be passed by the embassy or consulate to the Department of Justice and Law Reform in the city of Dublin. This may delay your application by several weeks, although it is the aim of the department to process applications as quickly as possible.

All documentation that should be submitted should be in its original form and if it is not in English, should be sent with a notarised translation. Anything that is not clear or damaged in any way will not be considered for your application. All the requested documentation should be sent. If your application is incomplete it will be rejected. There is also the possibility that the visa officer may request further documentation in support of your application and this should be sent in as quickly as possible to avoid any delays.

Documentation that should be sent includes a fully completed application form. Any questions that are not answered render the form invalid and your application will be rejected. You are the only person that is permitted to sign the form. In the case of a minor under the age of 16, the form can be signed by a parent or guardian. It is now not possible to have joint visas so applications need to be made for each individual that will be travelling. Each application will also incur its own fee.

If a child under the age of 18 is travelling alone then both parents must sign a consent form. If one parent has sole custody, then they must also provide evidence of this.

The passports of every person travelling need to be valid for a minimum of six months after your proposed departure date from the Republic of Ireland. Those who apply with passports that are due to expire sooner will have their applications rejected. Those who are applying for longer stays, such as a temporary job or study, will need to ensure that their passports are valid for a minimum of 12 months. When you arrive in Ireland you must register with the Garda Immigration Bureau if you intend to stay for longer than three months and the cost of this is €150. However, you can only be registered with them until your passport expires, when you will need a new passport and you will have to pay again, so the longer you have to run on your passport the better.

Those who have a recently issued passport are advised to send in their old passports as well, as this will show their travel history and help the visa officer to make a decision.

A person intending to visit Ireland for a short period of time will need to prove that they have the financial means to support themselves during their stay. Those moving to Ireland for work will need to have a firm offer of a job as evidence of financial means. Bank statements which cover the six months prior to the application date and which clearly show available funds to cover the visit are required.

When you complete your visa application form you need to make it clear if you currently have any family members living in Ireland or any other part of the EU, as well as providing details on any other visa applications that you have made. If you have had a visa refused for any country you should submit details of that too, usually in the form of the letter that you would have received when your application was rejected. If it is discovered that you have had other applications refused and not declared it then any current applications will also be refused.

There are several different categories of visas, which is why you need to be very clear from the beginning your exact reason for visiting the country. For example, if you are in Ireland to sit an exam, this is a category on its own. There are separate categories for doctors who are fully registered and doctors who are registered temporarily as well as separate categories for those who are attending conferences and those who are in the country for a training course. All categories have their own documentation requirements and it is the responsibility of the applicant to ensure that the correct documentation is sent with the application form.

Those who are applying for an employment visa will need to send an application form, a passport valid for a minimum of 12 months, a valid work permit, a contract of employment if the job offer has already been made or a letter from the Irish employer confirming all the details of the employment and the salary attached to the job and evidence of previous work experience and/or qualifications in this field.

Those who are the partner or spouse of an Irish citizen or a person who has been granted long term residency who wish to apply for a visa to join them will need to send the relevant application form, a passport valid for a minimum of 12 months, evidence of your residency status of your home country, any documentary evidence of the relationship, an account of the relationship history, proof of private medical insurance and proof that your partner can support you financially. It is up to the applicant to prove that the relationship is a genuine one.

When you have successfully been granted a visa, there will be a visa sticker added to your passport. This will contain the dates for which your visa is valid. The amount of time you will be permitted to stay will be decided by an Immigration Officer when you arrive in the country. It is worth noting that if your visa type is ‘C’ then you will be allowed to stay for no longer than a 90 day period. You will not be permitted to remain when this time has expired and you cannot apply to have this extended.

Your visa will also the maximum number of times that you will be allowed to enter the country during this time period. There will also be a section marked ‘Duration of Stay’ which will inform you of the maximum number of days that you will be allowed to stay in the country. This is at the discretion of the ministry. Your visa may also be marked ‘Bearer Only’. This means that if your passport is for more than one person, ie, yourself and your children, it will only be yourself that is approved by the visa. Separate stamps are required for each dependent that will be travelling with you.

You may be granted a ‘D’ type visa, which will allow you to remain in the country for longer than three months, but you will then need to register at the Garda National Immigration Bureau when you arrive in the country.

When you arrive at a port of entry you must have all the relevant travel documentation ready to show to an Immigration Officer.

It is possible to find out the decision that has been made on your visa application from the website of the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service. In order to do so you need to have your visa transaction number, which can be found on the letter that confirmed receipt of your application. Names are not placed on the list, so it is important to have this number to hand. There is a link on the site to the ‘Visa Decisions List’ where you simply enter your number. If your number is not there it just means that a decision has not been reached.

If your visa application has been approved then you can contact the office to which you first sent your application and they will advise you of the next steps. If your application has been turned down then you need to consult the reasons given. It may be that the correct documentation has not been submitted, but all applicants should be aware that if this is the case, submitting the right documentation will not automatically win approval. There are procedures in place for an appeal, although if you have provided incorrect information or forged documentation then you will have no right of appeal. The INIS website has details on how to lodge an appeal.


Residency

The first step for residency in the Republic of Ireland is to obtain ‘Permission to Remain’. This is given in the form of a stamp in the passport and a certificate of registration. When an individual first arrives in the country they are permission to do so for a set period of time and for a set purpose. If they decide that they wish to stay beyond that period of time they must seek ‘Permission to Remain’. To do this you need to visit the local Superintendent’s office in your area or the Garda National Immigration Bureau in Dublin.

All those from outside the EU will need to request permission to remain if they wish to stay in the country. This will also be granted for a set period of time and there may be conditions attached to your stay. In order to apply you will need to have a valid passport, evidence that you are able to support yourself and your family during this time – such as evidence of a job offer or private income – as well as provide any documentation that is connected with your stay.

In order to apply for the status of long term residency in the Republic of Ireland there are a number of conditions which need to be met and several different circumstances in which an applicant may be eligible for this status.

One of the main ways in which a person can apply is if they have been legally living in the country for a minimum of five years. This means that all the relevant visas must have been applied for at the right time and that they were valid for the five year period in question. Under these circumstances long term residency is granted as a five year extension to the previous residency. If this is granted they may also apply for exemptions from the requirements of employment permits. Only time spent in the country on working visas is taken into consideration. Residency is then granted on what is known as ‘Stamp 4’.

A person can also apply for long term residency if they are the spouse or dependent relative of a person who already has or is apply for the status of a long term resident. The same five year period of legally residency in the country applies. Residency here will be granted on what is known as ‘Stamp 3’, but this type of long term residency does not allow for exemptions from employment permit requirements.

In order to apply for either of these types of long term residency status, an applicant needs to send a letter of application and send it with all the supporting documentation to The Long Term Residency Section at INIS (Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service). The documents that need to be sent include copies of the all the relevant work permits, a copy of the registration card issued by the Garda National Immigration Bureau and copies of the passport which clearly shows all the endorsements that have been issued. This applies to both current and older passports.

The five year residency rule is strict, and applications from those who do not qualify will not be considered. The processing time for an application for long term residency status is more than 12 months. The five year residency must be valid on the date that you make your application and you must ensure that you have valid visas and work permits while you are waiting for your residency application to be processed.

The fees are only payable when your application has been processed and approved. Successful applicants will receive a letter informing them that they have been approved and this will request that they pay the relevant fee within a 28 day period, in order for the process to be completed. The fee must be paid in the form of a postal order or bank draft, but personal cheques or those drawn on a company bank account will not be accepted.

When payment has been received and it is confirmed that the applicant meets all the qualifying criteria another letter confirming the status will be sent, as well as a letter to the GNIB informing them to give the appropriate stamp of registration to the applicant. If the fee is not received within the 28 day period the department will not contact the applicant to remind them, and if they choose to continue with the process at a later date, it should be noted that there will be some delays while some of the assessment steps are repeated.

If you already have the status of a long term resident and wish to renew after the five year period, there is no need to submit a new application. It only requires that you visit your local Immigration Office in order to request permission to remain for another five years.

There are a number of categories of persons who are not eligible for long term residency status, as they may already be able to settle in the country without it. For example, those who are from an EU member state or qualifying states such as Iceland and Norway do not need to apply for this status. Those who are already married to an Irish national or an EU national will not need to apply for this status.

Those who have been working legally in the country for the minimum five years but have been made redundant are also not eligible to apply, as are those who have been given permission to stay in the state as a refugee. Those who are employed at a foreign embassy do not need to apply for long term residency status.

If you have been made redundant after working in the state for five years, the Irish Immigration Service now allows more time for the applicant to find a job without losing their immigration status. The application for long term residency should be made while the applicant is working.


Citizenship

Those who wish to apply for citizenship by naturalisation in the Republic of Ireland must meet a certain number of criteria and apply to the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law. The decision rests solely with the ministry and even meeting the guidelines does not guarantee that your application will be successful.

Those who wish to apply for citizenship must be at least 18 years of age and have good character. You must have been resident in the country for a minimum of one year immediately prior to the application and in the previous 8 years, have a total of four years residency. It must be clear that you intend to continue living in the country once you have gained your citizenship. You must also be prepared to declare your allegiance to the country.

There are some circumstances in which one or more of these conditions can be waived (at the discretion of the Ministry). For example, if you have Irish ancestry or connections, if you were born in the country, if you are married to an Irish citizen or if you are already naturalised and are applying on behalf of a dependent child.

If you are applying as the spouse of an Irish citizen you need to meet the age and character restrictions and have been married for no less than three years. You may also have to prove that you and your spouse are living together as husband and wife, and have spent a minimum of 1 year of that time living in the country, immediately prior to your application. Within the previous four years, two of those should have been spent living in Ireland.

In order to make an application for citizenship, you need to request the relevant forms from the Department of Justice, Equality and Law, although they can also be downloaded from the Ministry’s website. When you send your application you must include evidence of your identity and nationality. This means a copy of your birth certificate and passport or other travel documentation. If you are married then you will also need to provide a copy of your marriage certificate. As you must meet the minimum residency requirement you will need to produce documentation that proves that you have been living in the country for the required amount of time and this may be in the form of a work permit or similar document. Some financial documentation is also needed such as payslips and bank statements. When you first make your application, you need only send copies unless otherwise stated, but you must be prepared to produce the originals when needed.

To meet the good character requirement, the Irish police will be asked to provide a report which states that you have not broken any laws and that you do not have a criminal record. You must disclose the details of any legal proceedings underway that you are involved in when you complete your application form.

Applications are processed in the order that they are received at the ministry, and you should receive a receipt within 15 days of your application’s arrival. Any forms which have been incorrectly completed will be returned. There is no need for you to send a fee at this point. When your application has been processed you will be asked for the fee then. Decisions regarding applications are sent out by registered post and you will be informed of the procedures that need to be carried out if you are accepted. A certificate of naturalisation is issued when all of these procedures are complete.

It is preferable that you are resident in the country while your application is being processed, just in case you need to provide any further documentation or evidence. If you need to leave the country for any reason after you have sent in your application you should inform the ministry, although this could delay a decision.




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