This blog will highlight the current system for applications for Stamp 4 residency for de facto partners of Irish citizens living together in Ireland. In particular, those applicants who are not required to obtain a visa to enter Ireland.

At present, our office is currently experiencing an increase of clients seeking advice in relation to decisions refusing their de facto partners application, based on irrelevant considerations.

In order to be regarded eligible to apply for residency permission as the de facto partner of an Irish citizen, the couple must be able to show that they have been living together for at least two full years immediately prior to the date of application and their relationship must be akin to marriage. The applicant and the sponsor must currently live in Ireland or intend to live in Ireland and be living together at the time of application.

The applicant and sponsor must be financially self-sufficient – sponsor must be able to demonstrate that they can financially support the applicant. The application will be subject to paragraph 17 of the INIS Policy Document on Non-EEA Family reunification in that the Irish citizen must have earned a gross cumulative income from employment/ self-employment of €40,00 in the last three-year period.

The current procedure for a non-visa required national entering Ireland is that upon entry with their Irish citizen partner they must request entry to make a de facto application. The applicant will then be granted an entry stamp for Ireland for a maximum of 90 days. They are then required to make a written application to the De facto section of the INIS.

The average processing time for these applications is currently 6 months. During this period the applicant is unable to work and their immigration status expires through no fault of their own, pending the decision of their application.

There is no statutory appeal procedure if the application is refused and appeals are dealt with on an ad hoc basis.

We highlight that recent decisions have been of very poor quality and have been based on irrelevant considerations.

Our office is of the opinion that a pre-clearance procedure is now urgently needed to allow Irish citizens to return to Ireland with their partners with security that their partners will be registered with the immigration services without delay on arrival. If such a pre-clearance procedure is not urgently set up a change in the system is needed urgently, to allow applicants to have more security and the ability to work and support themselves in Ireland during the processing of the application. This could be through an accelerated application procedure that can be completed within 90 days or the issuing of temporary Stamp 4 permission, pending the decision.

We submit that change is needed urgently, particularly in circumstances where the Government is trying to encourage Irish citizens back to Ireland.