Non-EEA Family Reunification

The Department of Justice has recently (Dec ’13) published a lengthy policy document on Non-EEA Family Reunification. David O’Neill BL provides a helpful summary of the document’s main points:

1. General
1.1 The policy applies at once to any Irish citizen or qualifying resident who wants to bring a partner in from a non-EEA country
1.2 It may apply to an Irish citizen or qualifying resident who wishes to get status for a non-EEA partner already here
1.3 In principle, it should even apply to a non-EEA national with student, worker, or Stamp 4 status who is seeking an upgrade on grounds of partnership with an Irish citizen or qualifying resident, but this service could not then be offered over the counter at GNIB
1.4 The policy does not govern submissions in response to a proposal to deport
1.5 The policy may apply to applications to revoke a Deportation Order, but immigration history will be taken into account anyway
1.6 Departure from the policy should be “rare” and “exceptional”

2. Spouses/Partnerships

2.1 Where the sponsor is an Irish citizen, (s)he must show that (s)he has:
• in the 3 years before the application earned not less than €40,000 gross over and above any State benefits received AND
• not have been totally or predominantly dependent on State benefits for a continuous period of 2 years
2.2 The migrant’s potential earnings do not count
2.3 There is no exemption for sponsors on carer’s or disability benefit
2.4 Eg an Irish homemaker in the US wholly dependent on his or her US spouse’s income could not reunify under this family policy
2.5 Savings of the sponsor or foreign national may be counted in an unspecified manner
2.6 Green Card holders who are admitted on the basis they will earn a minimum amount can bring their families immediately subject to being able to show that they continue to earn the minimum at renewal
2.7 Ordinary work permit holders must maintain at least the minimum qualifying earnings of €30,000 over two years; maybe more if non-Irish children are to come as well
2.8 Non-visa-required employment permit holders can no longer be joined or accompanied by their spouses or children for their first 12 months in Ireland unless the employment permit is a Green Card
2.9 Certain Stamp 4 holders, such as those given humanitarian leave, may only sponsor after holding the permission for 2 years
2.10 Marriage/partnership of convenience is interpreted so widely that it may become a primary purpose rule ie you won’t be admitted if you can’t show how you would stay together if you were refused
2.11 Immigration by the parents of an Irish child will generally be facilitated unless the family is mainly foreign, especially if it would be a burden on the State
2.12 Persons making fraudulent applications may face residence bans eg you don’t declare your UK visa refusal, you may not apply to rejoin your Irish family for 5/10 years – the length isn’t specified

3. Termination
3.1 In principle, if the sponsoring spouse dies, the former family permit holder may normally remain in Ireland if (s)he has lived (presumably legally) in Ireland for 2 years or more before the death
3.2 If the couple divorce or are legally separated, permission to remain based on the sundered union will only be granted if the union lasted 3 years or more and the couple resided for 2 of those years in Ireland – other criteria may also have to be met
3.3 Once a union that formed the basis of a family permission breaks down each party (presuming that both at that stage qualify as sponsors) must wait 7 years from the date of grant of the previous family permission before either may sponsor a different partner

4. Parents
4.1 The following conditions apply to the immigration of elderly dependent relatives:
• There must be “exceptional circumstances” to justify a positive decision
• The sponsor must show that there is no practical alternative to the parent’s immigration
• The sponsor must have a net income for each of the 3 years prior to the application of €60,000 where the migration of 1 parent is sought, and €75,000 with regard to 2 parents
4.2 “Dependence” must be social and financial and continuous, must predate the application, and must be essential for independent living at a subsistence level.
4.3 Any permission granted will be subject to the following conditions:
• Private health insurance equivalent to VHI Plan D
• The sponsor’s undertaking to be completely responsible for the parent’s financial needs and to reimburse the State for any State funds availed of by that parent – a bond may be required
• Detailed provision for the parent’s accommodation
• Annual renewal subject to the conditions still being met
• No qualification for long-term residence or naturalization
4.4 Applications under this policy must always be made from outside the State, even though other elements of the family policy say this is impracticable for non-visa-required nationals
4.5 It is not, therefore, clear whether this policy is yet in force

About the author: Pádraig Murray