The EU Directive governing the family reunification for EU citizens exercising their Free Movement Rights is Directive 2004/38/EC. This is separate from national law. On INIS,, there is a choice to make an application of being a family member of an EU citizen or otherwise under national law. EU citizens and their family members have a right under residence, under Article 6 of the Directive, for up to three months in the State without any conditions.

The form of visa to be issued is a single entry C visa. To be granted a visa under the Directive, the applicant must prove that they are either a i) a qualifying family member or ii) a permitted family member, of an EU citizen exercising or planning to exercise free movement rights.

Qualifying Family Members include:

i) the spouse of the EU citizen

ii) the partner of the EU citizen where the State recognised the registered partnership as equivalent to marriage (this is same sex partners only in Ireland)

iii) direct descendants (sons, daughters, grandsons, granddaughters) of the EU citizen and/or their spouse or partner under the age of 21

iv) direct descendants over the age of 21 where they are dependent on the EU Citizen and/or their spouse or partner

v) parents and grandparents of the EU citizen and the spouse or partner where they are dependent on the EU citizen and/or their spouse or partner

Permitted Family Members include:
i) other family members who, in the country from which they have come, are dependants of members of the household of the EU citizen. The level of dependency must be sufficient to render independent living by the family member in their home country impossible if that financial and social support were not maintained. 

ii) the partner with whom the EU citizen has a duly attested durable relationship. This requires a relationship for a period longer than two years.

The applicant must prove:

i) that there is an EU citizen from whom they can derive rights from under the Directive;

ii) the existence of the required relationship as either a qualifying or permitted family member;

iii) that they will be accompanying or joining an EU citizen who is or will be exercising free movement rights at the time of the arrival of the family member in Ireland. The EU citizen must be working or self-employed or in a full-time course of study and have sufficient resources to support themselves and their family members without recourse to public funds.

The proofs that are required are:

i) proof of identity (for example, valid passports for the applicant and the EU citizen);

ii) proof of the required relationship (e.g. a birth certificate or a marriage certificate);

iii) for a permitted family member, proof of dependency or membership of the household;

iv) proof that the EU citizen is exercising or planning to exercise the free movement rights in Ireland at the time of arrival of the applicant family member (proof of travel to Ireland, for example).

The INIS website lists types of supporting documentary evidence. There is no need for additional proofs, such as evidence of employment or letter of invitation. 

Refusals can be made on the following grounds:

i) failure to prove that they are a beneficiary of the Directive ( that they are a qualifying/permitted family member of an EU citizen who is exercising/planning to exercise their free movement rights and they are planning to accompany or join the EU citizen);

ii) The State proves that the conduct of the applicant is a genuine, present and sufficiently serious to public policy, public security or public health; or

iii) The State proves that there was an abuse of rights or fraud. If supporting documents can be shown to be frauds or fraudulently altered, then they cannot be relied upon and would be used to support a refusal.

Member states are not obliged to recognise a polygamous marriage where this is not allowed in their national law, as is the case for Ireland, thus this time of marriage cannot be relied upon as proof of the family relationship. Forced marriages are also not recognised under Irish law and would therefore not prove the family relationship. However, marriages including a person under the legal age of marriage in Ireland may be allowed, if the legal age was met in the country where the marriage was entered into. 

If refused, the applicant may, in addition to, or as an alternative to, exercising their right of appeal, submit a new visa application for consideration. Any such application will be considered separately from their application and will not affect their right to appeal.

Applications from qualifying family members must be processed within four weeks from the time that the application is first received. The visas issued to qualifying family members should be free of charge. Applications from permitted family members may take longer than four weeks and the normal fees apply to these visa applications. 

If the visa is approved and the applicant wishes to reside in Ireland for more than three months, then they should make an application (when in the State) for a residence card (GNIB card) of a family member of an EU citizen to the EU Treaty Rights Section, Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service, 13 – 14 Burgh Quay, Dublin 2.

Ciara Dowd 

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