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In the heart of the enchanting Irish landscape, where the green fields meet the rugged coasts, the concept of family holds immense value. For non-EEA family members of Irish citizens or residents, the Non-EEA Family Reunification process offers a bridge to unite with their loved ones in this beautiful land. In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the intricacies of Non-EEA Family Reunification, exploring its purpose, eligibility criteria, application procedures, processing times, and more.

Understanding Non-EEA Family Reunification

It is a legal provision in Irish immigration law that allows family members of citizens or lawful residents to join them in the country and it is only for people who have family in Ireland.

If you will be eligible for it will depend on your family members’ immigration status and these factors are what distinguish between non-EEA/non-Swiss and EEA/Swiss national family members.

EEA/Swiss National in Ireland

If a family member in Ireland holds the status and is exercising their free movement rights, their family members can join them and what this means is either self-sufficient, employed, self-employed, or engaged in vocational studies.

Which Family Members Qualify for Non-EEA Family Reunification?

  • Spouse/civil partner
  • Children
  • Grandchildren
  • Parents
  • Grandparents

Non-EEA Family Reunification

Family members from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) do not automatically have the right to join relatives in Ireland. Their eligibility depends on the residency status of the family member living in Ireland. If the resident has a Critical Skills Employment Permit, they can bring family members immediately, granting them Stamp 4 status which allows them to work in Ireland without a separate permit. However, for other permits, like the General Employment Permit, family members can only join after the resident has worked in Ireland for a year and meets certain income requirements.

Application Process for Non-EEA Family Reunification:

Document Preparation

Before starting your application, make sure that you have all the necessary documents to show your guardianship over the family member you intend to bring to the country and You must prove that the family member is dependent on you, which can be done through financial support for their accommodation, education, and well-being.

Sponsorship Commitment

By applying for Non-EEA Family Reunification, you commit to becoming the sponsor for your family member and providing financial support after they arrive.

Insurance Requirement

As part of the application process, you must arrange both medical and travel insurance for your family member and you are to provide details of any other family member living in Ireland or in the country where the family member currently resides.

Required Supporting Documents

When submitting your application for the Dependent Child Visa for family reunification, include a comprehensive set of supporting documents to establish your eligibility:

  • Signed and dated application summary
  • Two color passport-sized photographs
  • International passport
  • A signed letter of application
  • Proof of the status of your sponsor, if it is an Irish citizen/resident family member
  • Proof of the relationship between you and your sponsor
  • Proof of your finances and those of your sponsor
  • Proof of dependency especially for permitted family members
  • Medical or travel insurance
  • Documentation regarding any previous visa refusals if it applies to you.

What Happens if an Application Is Unsuccessful?

In the event of an unsuccessful residence card application, you can apply for a review of the decision. This involves completing the EU4 application form and stating why you believe the decision on your application is incorrect. It has to be submitted within 2 months of receiving the refusal letter.

When Will I Receive Permanent Residence?

The Stamp 4EUFAM status is valid for 5 years and after this period, you can apply for a permanent residence card or renew your Stamp 4EUFAM. Eligibility for Irish permanent residence is usually based on having lived in the country for a straight five years, the application for permanent residence involves completing the EU3 application form and providing documents as evidence that you meet all the requirements.

The processing duration for permanent residence applications ranges from six to eight months, but in some cases, it takes longer.

Rules for Family Members of Refugees in Ireland

Eligibility for family reunification is contingent on the Irish resident receiving refugee status or subsidiary protection within the last 12 months.

Qualifying family members in this context include:

  • Spouses/civil partners
  • Children under 18 years of age
  • If the Irish resident who is a refugee or under subsidiary protection is under 18, the qualifying family members are also parents and minor siblings.
  • Family members of refugees in Ireland can start the application process from within or outside Ireland but the process involves the refugee writing to the INIS (Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service) Family Reunification Section to request family reunification for each family member.

If the application is approved by INIS, they will issue a letter of approval, the refugee must complete a questionnaire and submit it, along with other necessary documents, to the Irish embassy or consulate in the resident country of the family member.

Required documents include:

  • Signed and dated application form
  • Family reunification approval letter from the INIS
  • Two colored passport-sized photographs
  • International passport or travel document
  • Once the visa application is successful, the applicant can travel to Ireland and follow the same procedures as mentioned earlier, including applying for a residence card and registering with immigration for a residence permit upon entering Ireland.

Retained Right of Residence

In cases where circumstances change following family reunification, individuals can still retain the right to live in Ireland but this applies under various circumstances, such as:

  • The EU citizen passing away
  • Divorce between the EU citizen and family member
  • The EU citizen leaving the country
  • The family member becoming a victim of domestic abuse
  • To apply for the retained right of residence, complete the EU5 form, providing the necessary documentation to substantiate your claim.

Non-EEA Family Reunification embodies the essence of reuniting families, despite geographical distances.

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