EU Treaty Rights in Ireland

EU Treaty rights are rights given to nationals who reside within countries in the European Union, or the European Economic Area, and Switzerland, allowing individuals to live, work, study or visit other countries in the EU or EEA. Treaty rights are also applicable to family members of citizens of the EU, EEA and Switzerland, too.


These rights are regulated by Directive 2004/38/EC and were implemented in Ireland by the European Communities (Free Movement of Persons) Regulations 2015, becoming fully operational in February 2016.


In Ireland, the freedom of movement is a popular option for EU nationals, as the country is a country with great transport links, cultural attractions, educational and employment opportunities, as well as being surrounded by a stunning natural environment. While it’s an attractive option, the treaty rights afforded to people are not immediately obvious, and immigration issues such as reunification or residency terms can be confusing for those unfamiliar with the process.


Our experienced team of Irish citizenship, immigration and employment solicitors are on hand to support you right away with understanding EU treaty rights applying to all forms of residency in Ireland! Our teams, both Dublin and Donegal-based are available to speak to today, so don’t hesitate to get in touch.


How long can EU nationals stay in Ireland?

Ireland offers travel without a requirement to acquire a visa, but only for a maximum of three months at a time. For those intending to remain longer, you need a treaty right, which can only be acquired if you fall into a few categories:


  • Be a descendent of an EEA/Swiss national and fulfil one of the below points, too
  • Have funds and health insurance to support yourself and your family coming with you
  • Be enrolled in an educational program, or vocational training
  • Be in either full-time or self-employment


The three-month term can actually be extended to six months with no restrictions in the case you’re looking for employment, and your right to reside then needs to be formalised, by applying for an Irish residence permit for EU citizens, if you intend to remain after that period has expired. Upon arrival, you won’t need to present yourself to the immigration office, and as long as you’re a resident of the EEA zone, you won’t need a residence card to stay either.


The same rules don’t quite apply for family coming with you, either, especially if you intend for them to live with you in the same property, for example, you’ll need to look into attaining a right of residence in a family home Ireland-based or otherwise, you may choose to work with a legal professional to understand what application you’ll need to make, as it can get a lot more complicated under these circumstances.


If your family member is an EEA national, you’ll need to complete a EUTR1 form, which is the application form for a residency card to allow your family member to remain with you in Ireland. Any family outside the EU, EEA, Switzerland or the UK must apply for their residency before arriving and register to receive an Irish residence permit. Some cases will also need a visa to be supplied, too.


How long can EU nationals work in Ireland?

If your intention is to work in Ireland, you’ll have more time to find employment, set at six months. You can also usually claim some benefits from your nation of origin while residing in Ireland during this time period. Those employed have a guaranteed right to live in Ireland. Although, what constitutes a worker under the EU guidance? As you can see, the wording can be somewhat vague:


  • Self-employment must be in ‘genuine and productive’ work
  • Undertake ‘real and legitimate’ or a ‘work for someone else’ business, although there is no obligation to meet a certain number of hours, for example, to be recognised as an EU worker


Once you’ve completed five or more years as an EU self-employed or permanent worker, permanent residency can be acquired. Even if you had to stop working in those five years due to matters outside of your control like injury or paternity, your status will remain valid and some welfare benefits are available to you.


When can entry be denied to EU nationals?

The free movement policy that the EU enacted is a protectionary measure in the sense it secures unilateral rights for all EU citizens regardless of which member country they’re in. Therefore, the rules to deny entry are not massively extensive, or restrictive. However, it’s important to be aware of them, as they will put stop any residence application in its tracks.

  • If you’ve been found to be carrying any form of contagious and dangerous disease that could potentially pose a threat to Irish citizens
  • A relevant risk to the public is indicated by past behaviour or certain convictions, however, this can often be a discretionary decision on the part of the immigration office on whether a conviction will halt your entry


Can EU nationals bring their family with them to stay in Ireland?

EU nationals absolutely can bring family with them, as we’ve alluded to a few times previously here. The EU divides family members into two distinct groupings:

  • Qualifying members
  • Permitted members

Qualifying family members are granted treaty rights as a result of their descendants typically. This can mean they are a direct relation to an EU national, or they have an EU national spouse, or they are the grandparents or parents of an EU national.

Permitted members have to fulfil different conditions. A person who has been in at least 2 years of a committed relationship or a dependent or family member who requires care as a result of a condition that the EU national is providing for them.


Why choose McGinley Solicitors LLP?

McGinley Solicitors LLP are well-equipped to assist in explaining and helping you apply to exercise your treaty rights, regardless of your background or how long you intend to stay. Their main priority is to provide as much support as possible, so that you can focus on preparing for your exciting new role, studies and new life in Ireland.

At McGinley, our aim is to live up to the highest standards in everything we do, so that people get the legal assistance they deserve across a variety of areas, including immigration law, which we specialise in. If you have questions regarding your treaty rights, passport applications or similar issues then feel free to contact us today. Learn more about how we can help you to start working in Ireland on our site.


EU Treaty Rights FAQs

Can non-EEA nationals join through the treaty rights?

This is possible, yes, however they will need to apply for residence upon arriving in Ireland. Your treaty rights extend to any non-EEA, EU, or Swiss nationals by default. The exact circumstances of the family member can mean understanding their eligibility isn’t immediately obvious. It’s best to check with a legal professional, who can recommend to you what they need, first.


What documents do non-EEA nationals need to live with their families in Ireland?

Qualifying family members must complete the EUTR1 form, while permitted members must complete the EUTR1A form. Both also require additional documentation, typically proof of addresses, passports or birth certificates, for example.


Do I need to submit applications for a non-EEA child?

Yes, the parent of the child must fill out the forms on their behalf, if the intention is for the child to remain for more than three months. The EUTR1 form will be needed, and the usual five years of residence can then allow the parent to apply for the child to have permanent residence in Ireland.


What if I’m rejected?

There is a right to appeal process, and the non-EEA family member will need to fill out a EU4 form to challenge the ruling.

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