Know Your Rights: Returning To Live In Ireland With A De Facto Partner 

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Know Your Rights has been compiled by Kerry Citizens Information Service which provides a free and confidential service to the public…

Question: My son has lived in the US for the past 10 years. He is planning to come back to Ireland in a few months. He is in a long-term relationship. His partner wants to move to Ireland with him, and hopefully find work here. She is American, and they have heard that she can’t stay in Ireland unless they are married. Is this true? What do they have to do before they come?

Answer: Your son’s partner may be able to live and work in Ireland as the de facto partner of an Irish citizen (your son). However, to do so she needs permission from Immigration Service Delivery (ISD) – formerly called the Irish Immigration and Naturalisation Service, or INIS.

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Your son’s partner will need to show that she and your son have been living together for at least 2 years, and have a mutual commitment to a shared life together to be considered as being in a de facto partnership with an Irish citizen. De facto partnership is the term used to describe a relationship that is like marriage or civil partnership in practice, but not in law.

Once these criteria are met, your son’s partner can begin the process of applying for permission to live and work in Ireland as follows:

Get de facto preclearance: Before your son’s partner can travel to Ireland, she must be granted de facto preclearance. To apply she must complete the preclearance application form (pdf) and submit it with all the supporting documentation listed on the form. She must pay a non-refundable application fee of €100, and wait outside of Ireland while her application is processed.

Get a decision: If her application is approved, she will get a preclearance letter which is valid for 6 months. She must travel to Ireland during this period. If her application is refused, she will receive a letter explaining the reasons why. She can appeal this decision by responding to the refusal letter with extra supporting documents if required.

Prepare for border control: As a citizen of the US, your son’s partner can travel to Ireland without a visa. However, she will need to go through immigration control on arrival. She should tell the immigration officer at the airport or point of entry that she plans to apply for residency in Ireland based on her de facto partnership status, and provide her preclearance letter as evidence of this. If she is permitted to enter Ireland, the immigration officer will imprint a landing stamp on her passport stipulating the permitted length of her stay (up to 90 days).

Get residency permission: If she is granted residency permission, she will then receive a ‘Stamp 4’ in her passport which will allow her to live and work in Ireland for the length of time stated on the stamp.

Register with Immigration: Your son’s partner must register in person with an Immigration Registration Office and apply for residency permission to live and work in Ireland as soon as possible after arriving in the country. She will need to provide evidence of her preclearance permission, her original passport, your son’s original passport, proof of their joint address in Ireland, and a registration fee of €300.

• You can find out more on bringing your non-EEA de facto partner home to Ireland on

Restricted COVID19 Service Update  – The following centre offer a Telephone & Email service;

Tralee on Tel: 0761 07 7860  Mon – Fri (10am-4pm)

Killarney 0761 07 7820   Tues – Thurs (10am- 4pm)

Kenmare 0761 07 7810   Mon, Tues, Thurs (10am-4pm) Wed (10am-1pm)

Caherciveen 0761 07 7780. Tues – Thurs (10am-1:30pm & 2:30pm-4pm)

Information is also available online at and from the Citizens Information Phone Service, 0761 07 4000

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