General Overview of Irish Immigration System

The principal legislation governing the entry and residence of non-nationals in the State is the Aliens Act, 1935 and the Aliens Order 1946 as amended, together with the regulations implementing the EU Rights of Residence Directives. In addition, the Immigration Act, 1999 sets out the principles and procedures which govern the removal of non-nationals from the State. This legislative framework provides that all non-EEA nationals require the permission of the Minister for Justice and Equality to reside in the State.

Certain non-EEA nationals require a visa prior to entering the State and it is the function of the Department of Foreign Affairs to process visa applications through its network of Embassies and other consular posts abroad. In view of the responsibility of the Minister for Justice and Law Reform for immigration matters generally, the overall policy parameters in relation to visa matters are, however, set by him. 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.

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 and systematically on persons arriving from outside the Common Travel Area. Generally speaking, a person can be granted up to 90 days permission to remain as a visitor upon arrival, provided they can satisfy an Immigration Officer that they have sufficient 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.

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

Persons who wish to reside in the State for longer than 90 days must register with their local Garda Registration Officer and apply for further permission to remain before their initial leave to enter expires. 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 dependant family member of an Irish or EEA national residing in the State. Certain other categories of person are also granted permission to remain, including persons granted humanitarian leave to remain by the Minister. Particular criteria must be satisfied in order to obtain permission to remain in any of the above mentioned categories and, 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.