A Non EEA national lawfully resident in the State may apply to the Minister for a visa or residence permission for his or her spouse and immediate family members in certain circumstances. Such applications are at the discretion of the Minister for Justice, and no automatic entitlement to family reunification arises in any case.
The area is now governed by the policies as set out in the INIS Family Reunification Policy Document of December 2013. This document sets out the Minister’s guidelines for granting visas/ residence permission to the immediate and non immediate family members of non EEA national sponsors.
The policy document categorized “immediate” family members” as including spouse and children under the age of 18.
Children over the age of 18 may also be included in the category of “immediate family member” up to the age of 23, if they remain in full time education and are fully dependent on the sponsor parent.
The document divides sponsors into three categories;
Category A sponsors – including green card holders, Investors, business permission holders, researchers, INIS, intra company transferees – are eligible to sponsor applications for their family members from time of entry to the State. They are eligible to apply for other, non immediate family members after a two year period of residence in the State.
There is no specific financial requirements for this category A sponsors. This may be that the residency permission of the primary sponsor in these cases is dependant on meeting certain financial specifications. E.g. Critical Skills Employment Permit Holders (previously Green Card Holders) must meet the requirement to have a salary of a minimum of €30,000.
Category B sponsors – including employment permit holders not included in Category A, stamp 4 holders not covered by a more favourable scheme, ministers of religion – are eligible to sponsor applications for immediate family members after 12 months lawful residence. They are eligible to apply for family reunification for other family members after a five year period.
Category B sponsors must have a gross income in the two year period preceding the application in excess of that applied by the Department of Social Protection in assessing eligibility for Family Income Supplement payments. Where a couple do not have children, the threshold is set at €30,000 gross income for the two year preceding the application.
Category C – all other non EEA nationals – not eligible to sponsor for family reunification
In the case of a spousal application, a further policy requires that the non EEA national sponsor has not sponsored another spouse within the last 7 year period prior to the application, or that the sponsor himself/herself did not acquire lawful residence in the State on foot of a different spouse within the last 7 year period.