Immigration Control

All non-EEA nationals, whether visa required or not, are subject to immigration controls upon arrival in the State. These controls are applied on an occasional basis on persons arriving from within the Common Travel Area between Ireland and the UK. They apply systematically to persons arriving from outside the Common Travel Area.

Generally speaking, persons can be granted up to 90 days permission to remain as a visitor upon arrival, provided that they can satisfy an Immigration Officer that they have funds to support themselves, that they have a valid visa if one is required and that they will not breach Irish immigration or other laws.

In view of the responsibility of the Department for Justice and Law Reform for immigration matters generally, the overall policy parameters in relation to visa matters are, set by the Department.

Non-EEA nationals seeking permission to enter in order to take up employment will generally require an Employment Permit. Employment Permit applications are processed by the Department of Business Enterprise, and Innovation and non-possession of a permit if intending to take up employment are grounds for refusal of entry.

Obligations on Entry into State

Every person over 16 years old, who lands in the State, must be in possession of a valid passport or equivalent identification document.  He or she must furnish an immigration officer with such information as may reasonably be required, for the purpose of performing his functions.  Breach of this provision is an offence.  The provision does not apply to travel within Ireland and the UK

Every non-national must produce on demand unless a satisfactory explanation is otherwise given, a valid passport or equivalent document issued by the authority of a recognised government, which establishes that person’s identity and nationality. A registration certificate (now a Residence Permit) must be produced, if applicable.  It is an offence to fail to comply.

2011 legislation provides that non-EEA nationals arriving in the State must present a passport or equivalent document when asked for it by an immigration officer. It also requires non-EEA nationals who are present in the State to provide such a document or a registration certificate on demand to the Minister, an immigration officer or a Garda, if asked to do so to prove that they comply with their permission to remain in the State.

This requirement does not apply to people under 16 years of age, persons born in Ireland and persons exercising EU Treaty rights. However, anyone seeking to enter or live in the State on the basis of being an EU/EEA national or a dependent of an EU/EEA national is still required to provide satisfactory evidence of identity and nationality to establish that basis

Permission to enter the State

Permission to enter and remain in the State is given by an immigration officer under the Immigration Act. Immigration officers may grant or deny entry. They may decide the duration of the stay and attach conditions. The immigration officer may give a permission document to a non-national or endorse his passport with permission to land or be in the State.

A visa acts, in practice as a pre-entry clearance document. In strict terms, the visa is a permission to present at the frontier and is subject to the immigration officers powers to refuse entry or to grant permission to enter and remain subject to conditions. This is subject to the overriding rights of Irish nationals, UK nationals (under the common travel area arrangements) and the rights of EU / EEA citizens.

A non-national may remain in the State in accordance with the terms of the permission.  Presence in the State in contravention of this permission makes the person unlawfully present in the State.

Further Permission to Remain

The main grounds upon which further permission to remain can be obtained are:

  • for the purposes of employment,
  • to study,
  • to operate a business or
  • as a dependent family member of an Irish or EEA national residing in the State.

Certain other categories of person may be granted permission to remain, including persons granted humanitarian leave to remain by the Minister. Criteria must be satisfied in order to obtain permission to remain in any of the above-mentioned categories. In the case of visa required nationals, further permission to remain will generally not be extended to persons who entered on short visit category visas.

Refugee legislation provides for temporary permission to remain in the State, pending determination of an application in relation to refugee status and asylum.

Visa Countries

A visa is a pre-entry clearance to land.  The Department of Foreign Affairs may designate states whose nationals require a visa in order to come to the State.  The Department may exercise this power

  • for the purpose of ensuring the integrity of the immigration system;
  • maintenance of national security public order or public health
  • the orderly regulation of the labour market;
  • to give effect to reciprocal immigration arrangements and
  • the promotion of tourism.

Certain non-EEA nationals require a visa prior to entering the State. It is the function of the Department of Foreign Affairs to process visa applications through its network of Embassies and other consular posts abroad. Embassies have been granted delegated sanction to decide on certain categories of applications but others are referred to the Department of Justice and Equality for decision.

Visa Exempt

Orders may declare classes of non-nationals who do not require a visa on landing. The designations are published as a statutory instrument, the Immigration Act 2004 (Visas) Order. The legislation lists in a schedule the states, whose nationals require a visa. The list is updated and amended from time to time

Certain categories of persons are exempt from the visa requirement

  • non-nationals with Geneva Convention travel documents;
  • holders of residence permit or cards;
  • non-nationals holders of residence card of a family member of an EU citizen

Transit Visas

A separate list of Countries’ nationals requires a transit visa when arriving at a port of entry in Ireland for the purposes of passing through a port (airport, seaport) in order to travel to another state.

A transit visa does not entitle the holder to stay in the State. It permits the holder to transit through Ireland in order to reach a destination in another state. The relevant visa for the country of destination in the applicant’s passport should be held before applying for an Irish transit visa.

Visa Applications

Applications for Irish visas may be made at an Irish embassy or Consulate.  A “C” Visa is a short stay visa. A “D” visa is a long stay visa.

The application for a visa requires

  • presentation of evidence of identity;
  • consent of parents, in respect of children;
  • a valid passport;
  • evidence of financial self-sufficiency during the stay;
  • details of previous Irish visa applications;
  • details of visa refusals by any country.

The grant of the visa is entirely at the discretion of the Department of Justice.  This is part of the inherent executive power of the State.

Appeal of Visa Decision

The refusal or grant of visa may be appealed to a Visa Appeals Officer at INIS or the relevant embassy within two months. The Appeals Officer will review the application, taking account of any further comments made in the grounds of appeal and of any supporting documentation submitted.

Following the examination, the original decision may be reversed. If the Appeals Officer does not alter the decision, the party is notified in writing. In general, appeals take 8 weeks to process from the date of receipt. Processing times may increase where the provision of additional documentation is requested or a detailed assessment of family rights under the Constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights are required.

Ground for Refusal of Permission to Land

An immigration officer may refuse permission to land in the State or be in the State if he is satisfied that any of the following conditions apply.

  • the non-national is not in a position to support himself or accompanying dependents;
  • the non-national intends to take up employment, but is not in possession of a valid employment permit;
  • the non-national suffers from certain specified conditions;
  • the non-national has been convicted of an offence, which may be punished by a period of more than one-year imprisonment;
  • the non-national requires an Irish visa, but does not hold one;
  • the non-national is subject to a deportation order, exclusion order or determination by the Minister, that it is conducive to the public good that he or she remain outside the State;
  • the non-national is not in possession of a valid passport or equivalent document establishing identity;
  • the non-national intends to travel to the UK and would not qualify for admission in the UK if he arrived there;
  • the non-national has remained in the State having arrived as a seaman, after the departure of the ship;
  • the non-national’s entry or presence in the state poses a threat to national security or be contrary to public policy;
  • there are reasons to believe non-national intends to enter the State for purposes other than those expressed.

There is no provision for an appeal against refusal of permission to land.

Registration and Residence Permit

A person who is not an Irish, UK, EU/ EEA or Swiss citizen, must apply for immigration permission and then register with the Garda National Immigration Bureau if he intends to stay in the State for more than 90 days. Registration is not required if the person concerned intends to stay (and does in fact stay) in the State for less than 91 days.

Immigration permission should generally be sought before travelling to Ireland, where the national is not from a visa exempt country or seeks a visa other than a standard short stay visa for tourism, personal, short term business meetings etc.  He will still be subject to immigration control on arrival and must have a valid reason for entering the State.

The certificate of registration is known as the Irish Residence Permit since December 201. It must be carried and can be requested by an immigration officer or member of an Garda Siochana.  It is issued by the Garda National Immigration Bureau to lawfully resident persons, who expect to stay in the State for more than three months.

The certificate contains the person’s photograph, registration number, the relevant stamp, microchip with photo fingerprint and personal details and the expiry date.

Immigration Stamps

Immigration stamps in conjunction with the certificate of registration issued by the Garda National Immigration Bureau are evidence of permission to be in the State.  A passport stamp specifies the duration and the conditions of permission to remain in Ireland.

The following type of registration stamps are provided for. The immigration officer may attach conditions on the permission to stay, including a condition as to duration and employment. A permission to stay can be renewed from time to time.

Stamp 0 entitles the person to remain in the State on condition that he does not receive state benefits and has medical insurance.  He must be fully supported by a sponsor in the State or have independent means.  He is not entitled to work or engage in a trade, business or profession unless specified in the INIS permission.

Stamp 0 is issued to persons who are permitted to remain in Ireland for a specific, temporary and limited purpose. It may be granted to a service provider sent to Ireland by an overseas company to carry out a particular task for a limited time, extended visit in exceptional humanitarian circumstances, visiting academics and Non-EEA retired persons of independent means

Stamps 1, 1A & 1G

Stamp 1 is for persons who have received an employment permit, business permission or a working holiday authorisation. It permits a person to remain in Ireland on condition that the persons does not enter employment unless the employer has obtained a permit, does not engage in business without the permission of the Minister for Justice and does not remain later than the specified date.

This is the principal stamp for persons with non-EEA nationals with an Employment permit, a green card permits or who have been granted permission to operate a business in the State.

Stamp 1A allows a person to remain in Ireland for full-time training with a specified body. Stamp 1G applies to graduates who are permitted to remain under the Third Level Graduate Scheme. Stamp 1A is not reckonable as residence when applying for citizenship by naturalisation

Stamps 2, 2A & 3

Stamp number 2 permits persons to remain in Ireland on a course of studies on condition that he does not engage in a business or a profession, other than casual employment.  This is limited to 20 hours per week during school term and 40 hours during the school holidays.  It applies principally to non-EEA nationals attending a full-time course of the study.

Stamp 2A permits the person to remain in Ireland on condition that the holder does not enter employment or engage in the business or has no recourse to public funds.  This applies principally to non-EEA national studying a course of study not recognised by the Department of Education and Skills.

Holders of Stamps 2 & 2A cannot receive any benefits or use publicly funded services unless they have an entitlement via other means. They are not reckonable as residence when applying for citizenship by naturalisation.

Stamp number 3 is applied to a person permitted to remain in the State on condition that he does not enter employment, engage in business and does not remain later than the specified date.  This typically applies to non-EEA visitors, non-EEA persons of independent means, non-EEA members of religious orders and non-EEA spouses, partners and dependents of employment permit holders.

Stamp 4

Stamp 4 applies to a person permitted to remain in the State until a specified date, subject to conditions.  This includes non-EEA family members of EEA citizens, non-EEA spouses of Irish citizens, refugees and persons granted family reunification. It is reckonable as residence for naturalisation purposes.

The holder can take up employment and is not required to hold an Employment Permit. He cannot be employed in the general labour market if he was granted permission under the Investor or Entrepreneur Programmes.

The holder can work in a profession, subject to conditions of the relevant professional or other bodies. He can establish and operate a business.

The holder may access state funds and services as determined by Government departments or agencies. If the holder wishes to stay in Ireland past the expiry date of your immigration permission, you must apply to renew your permission and registration before they expire.

Stamp 4 Examples

A person may be given Stamp 4 if he has permission to work in Ireland:

  • with a valid Critical Skills employment permit for 2 years
  • with a valid employment permit for 5 years
  • as a researcher (i.e. with a valid Hosting Agreement) for 2 years

He may be given Stamp 4 if you are granted permission:

  • to join his Irish spouse, civil partner or de-facto partner
  • to join his EU/EEA or Swiss family member based on EU Treaty Rights
  • to join his family member who is a recognised refugee or has been granted subsidiary protection
  • to remain with his child who is an Irish citizen
  • under the Investor and Entrepreneur Programme (including spouse/partner & family)
  • for long term Residence
  • As a convention or programme refugee, or based on subsidiary protection

Stamp 4 (EU FAM) allows the holder to join a family member who has immigration permission on EU Treaty Rights. It covers family members of EU nationals who have exercised their right to move to and live in Ireland.

Stamps 5 & 6

Stamp 5 is for foreign nationals who have lived in Ireland for up to eight years and have been permitted by the Department of Justice to remain in Ireland without condition at to time.  An employment permit or a business permission to work is not required.

If a person has a previous stamp 5 in his passport this stamp can be renewed for a new passport. Legal Residence requires and a stamp and registration with Garda National Immigration Bureau (GNIB).

Stamp 6 is a without conditions endorsement. It is given to persons with dual citizenship -Irish and another.  In order to qualify for this endorsement, the applicant must hold or be entitled to hold an Irish passport. It applies to the foreign passport of an Irish citizen with dual citizenship, who wishes to have their right to remain in Ireland endorsed on the foreign passport.

Immigration Permission not Required

The following categories are exempt from the requirement for permission to be in the State.

  • non-nationals born in Ireland;
  • non-nationals under the age of 16;
  • non-nationals, not resident in the State, who have been in the State for less than three months;
  • a non-national seaman whose ship remains at port and does not land in the State

The following persons are not unlawfully within the State;

  • asylum applicants;
  • refugees;
  • family members of refugees;
  • program refugees