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APPLICATIONS OPEN FOR WITHDRAWAL AGREEMENT BENIFICIARY CARDS FOR UK NATIONALS AND THEIR FAMILY MEMBERS

Brexit has not affected a UK national’s right to reside or work in Ireland as UK nationals continue to reside lawfully in the State under Common Travel Area protections.

The Withdrawal Agreement also ensures that UK nationals, and their non-EEA Family members, who are resident in Ireland pursuant to the Free Movement Regulations under EU law, as of the 31st December 2020, will continue to hold the same right to reside and work deriving from the Regulations going forward.

The non- EEA family members of UK nationals resident in the State on or before the 31st December 2020 were previously required to hold an Irish Residency Permit (IRP) card (usually referred to as the “EU Fam Residence card”). Since the 1st January 2021, these family members residing in the State are now required to replace their existing IRP card with a Withdrawal Agreement Beneficiary (WAB) Card, in order to continue to reside lawfully in the State.

The WAB card is an important document that will evidence that the holder of the card is a beneficiary of the Withdrawal Agreement, which allows the UK national or their family member to continue to access all the rights deriving from the EU Free Movement Regulations, eg the right to reside, the right to work, the right to permanent residence, etc.

The family members of UK nationals who are resident in the State on or before the 31st December 2020 are required to apply for the WAB card.

It is very important that the family members of UK nationals apply for the WAB card as soon as possible, because after the 31st December 2021 their IRP card issued under the Regulations (the EU Fam residence card) will become invalid.

Applications for a WAB card are open since the 1st January 2021, and are being administered by the Immigration Service of the Department of Justice through and on-line renewal system available at https://inisonline.jahs.ie. This system applies to all applicants throughout Ireland.

All those affected will have until 31 December 2021 to apply for their WAB card.

When submitting an application, applicants will be asked to do the following:

  • To confirm that you have been exercising EU Treaty Rights to reside in the State on or before 31 December 2020 and continue to do so.
  • To upload proof of identity and proof of current residence. (passport bio-data page and utility bills)

The INIS website confirms there is no charge applicable for the replacement of the card. Once registration is complete the card will be sent the applicant by Express Post, within 5-10 days

Note that with Brexit coming into effect, the IRP expiry date of all existing non-EEA family members of a UK national reverts to the 31/12/2020 (instead of the expiry date on the current IRP card). This is the date to be included at Section 1.2 of the Online Application Form.

From 1st January 2021, the IRP card (the EUFam Residence card) of all non-EEA family members of a UK national will no longer have a visa exemption effect which permitted them to travel within the EU. If any non- EEA family member of a UK national intends on travelling to another EU Member State after that date, they will need to check the visa requirements for that Member State before travelling.

It is matter of choice for UK nationals who were resident in the State on the 31st December 2020 if they wish to apply for the WAB card. The benefit of applying for the WAB card is that it establishes their rights and entitlements deriving from the Withdrawal Agreement, as opposed to the British citizens who arrive in the State after the 31st December 2020. UK nationals can apply for the WAB card by making an appointment at their local immigration office via the below link. We would highlight that the immigration offices are currently closed due to Covid 19 precautions, so it appears not to be possible for UK citizens to apply for the WAB card immediately.

http://www.inis.gov.ie/en/INIS/Pages/first-time-registration

If any UK nationals or their family members require further information on this matter, Berkeley Solicitors would be happy to advise.

UPDATE ON BREXIT AND WHAT IT MEANS FOR NON-EEA FAMILY MEMBERS OF BRITISH CITIZENS EXERCISING THEIR EU TREATY RIGHTS IN IRELAND

At midnight on 31st January 2020, the United Kingdom left the European Union on the basis of the Withdrawal Agreement. This means that the transitional period has commenced and will run until the 31st December 2020.

The Department of Justice and Equality, has published a communication on their website aimed at non-EU/EEA nationals who are residing in the State as the family member of a British citizen.

The Department has confirmed that during this transition period, which will last until at least the 31st December 2020, EU rules and regulations will continue to apply to the family members of British citizens who are currently resident in Ireland, that is to say they will continue to benefit from Directive 2004/38 and the European Communities (Free Movement of Persons) Regulations 2015 which provide for the rights of British citizens to live and work in the EU.

Unfortunately, the Minister has yet to clarify what plan is in place for the family members of British citizens who currently hold EU Fam residence cards after the 31st December 2020.

Furthermore, the update is also silent on the policy to be applied to the family members of British citizens who will have EU residence card and visa applications pending at termination of the transition period.

It is indicated that the Department will announce details of arrangements for non-EEA family members of British citizens closer to the end of the transition period.

This lack of clarity on the status of such applications after the 31st December 2020 is disappointing.

Meanwhile, the EUTR Section of the Irish Naturalization and Immigration Service are in delaying issuing decisions in most applications well beyond the permitted timeframes. For example, many of the residence card applications are taking approximately ten months when the EU Regulations require that they are determined in a six-month period.

This delay is very unsatisfactory especially for the family members of British citizens who are now concerned regarding the pending deadline of the 31st December 2020.

It is advisable to regularly check the Department’s website. Berkeley Solicitors will also update the Immigration Blog as further information becomes available.

We understand many people are concerned regarding the uncertain impact of Brexit on their applications and right to reside and access the labour market in Ireland. If you or your family members are affected please do not hesitate to get in contact with our office.

The update can be read in full here.