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Background / Information Note: European Court of Justice Judgment in the Zambrano case


The European Court of Justice Judgment in the Zambrano case, delivered on 8th March, 2011, ruled that Member States are precluded from refusing a third country national upon whom his minor children, who are European Union citizens, are dependent, a right of residence in the Member State of residence and nationality of those children, and from refusing to grant a work permit to that third country national, in so far as such decisions deprive those children of the genuine enjoyment of the substance of the rights attaching to the status of European Union citizen. In Ireland, this ruling refers to the non EEA national parents of Irish minor citizen children.

Arising from this Judgment, the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) will be examining all cases where a link to the Zambrano Judgment has been identified to see if such cases meet the Zambrano criteria. Where the Zambrano criteria is met, all other things being equal, permission to remain in the State will be granted, for a specified period, of a nature as will enable such parents to work in the State without an Employment Permit or to set up in any legitimate business or profession without seeking the permission of the Minister.

This Judgment may be particularly relevant to the following categories of third country national:

  1. parents of an Irish citizen child or children who are awaiting a decision in their case under Section 3 of the Immigration Act 1999 (as amended),
  2. parents of an Irish citizen child or children who have current permission to remain in the State on the basis of Stamp 1, Stamp 2 or Stamp 3 conditions and
  3. parents of an Irish citizen child who have been deported or who have left the State on foot of a Deportation Order.

Persons referred to at 3. above will have to apply to the relevant Irish Embassy or Consulate in their own country of origin for a visa to return to this State and they will, at that point, be required to produce documentation which shows a clear link to the Zambrano Judgment. Such visa applications can be made on-line through the Automated Visa Application and Tracking System (AVATS). Comprehensive guidelines for making a visa application, including details with regard to the required supporting documentation, are available elsewhere on this Website.

As a matter of public policy, the INIS will not be applying the terms of the Zambrano Judgment to any third country parent of an Irish born citizen child or children who has been convicted of serious and/or persistent criminal offences.

For those parents of an Irish citizen child or children who feel that they might be in a position to meet the criteria laid down in the Zambrano Judgment, they should be aware that, in addition to documentary evidence being required from them, DNA evidence of a biological link to the Irish citizen child or children may also be required.

Information specific to persons who have no current right of residency

Any person who is in the State and has no current right of residency, but who wishes to have their case considered in line with the principles of the Zambrano Judgment, must submit the following documentation to the INIS’ Residence Division, 13-14 Burgh Quay, Dublin 2, before their case can be considered:

  • A colour copy of the bio-data page of the Irish citizen child's passport,
  • The Irish citizen child's original Birth certificate - a copy is not acceptable,
  • A colour copy of the bio-data page of the applicant's own passport,
  • Two colour passport sized photographs, signed on the back by the applicant,
  • Documentary evidence that the Irish citizen child is living in the State,
  • Proof of the applicant's address and residence in Ireland (e.g. current utility bills etc.),
  • Documentary evidence of the role the applicant is playing in his/her child's life (e.g. letters from schools, crèches etc.) and
  • Any other information that the applicant considers relevant to his/her case.

In addition, an applicant must provide answers to the following questions:

  • Has he/she ever been convicted of a criminal offence in the State or abroad? If so, he/she must provide specific details.
  • Are there any charges pending against him/her in the State or aboard? If so, he/she must provide details.
  • Are there any Court Orders against you in relation to family law matters e.g. a Barring Order, a Care Order, a Protection Order, a Safety Order etc?


This additional information can be provided on the accompanying Declaration.

Declaration regarding criminality and family law matters, March, 2015  This document is a pdf


Information specific to persons who have an existing right of residency but wish to have their status upgraded to facilitate full access to employment.

A person who has an existing immigration permission in the State (stamp 1 or 2 or 3) can attend at their local immigration office to apply to upgrade their permission to a stamp 4. The stamp 4 will only be issued if the registration office is satisfied by the evidence provided by the applicant, the relationship history and the validity of the documentation presented.

If the registration office is not satisfied with any of these they will refer person to the INIS Residence Division for further examination.

A person who has an existing immigration permission and believes they fulfil the criteria of the Zambrano Judgment should attend at their local Immigration Registration Office and have the following documentation in their possession:

  • their own Passport,
  • their current Irish Residence Permit (IRP) or GNIB Card,
  • their child's Irish Passport,
  • their child's Birth Certificate
  • documentary evidence of their address in the State
  • documentary evidence of the child’s address in the State (eg doctors letter or school letter)

NB: The Irish citizen child must attend with his/her parent(s) on this occasion.
Where such persons are found to satisfy the Zambrano criteria, then, all other things being equal, their status will be upgraded to Stamp 4 conditions. However, in circumstances where the Registration Office is not satisfied that a person meets the Zambrano criteria, the case will be referred back to the INIS Residence Division for further examination.