Visas For Family Members Pursuant to EU Treaty Rights Explained

As of September 2013, visa applications under Directive 2004/38/EC or “Free Movement Directive”, have been handled within the Department of Justice separately from applications considered under national law. The most important thing for anyone applying for a visa under the Free Movement Directive is their ability to prove that they are either a qualifying or permitted family member of an EU citizen who plans to use their free movement rights. The applicant must be able to prove that there is an EU citizen with whom they have rights under the Free Movement Directive; the existence of a family relationship to that EU citizen; and that they will be either accompanying or joining the EU citizen in Ireland. It is up to the applicant to provide adequate proof that the EU citizen is using their free movement rights.

A qualifying family member is either the spouse of an EU citizen, the partner of an EU citizen in a partnership recognized as equal to a marriage (i.e. same sex partners) direct descendants of an EU citizen who are under 21 years of age (i.e. sons, daughters, grandsons, granddaughters), direct descendants of an EU citizen who are over 21 years of age but are dependent on the EU citizen (please note that dependency  must be established by a certifying document issued by a relevant authority in the applicant’s country of origin, and must be to such a degree that hinders independent living), or parents or grandparents of an EU citizen who are dependent on the EU citizen.

Permitted family members refer to any other family members who are dependent on the EU citizen in their country of origin, or the partner with whom the EU citizen has a proven and durable relationship.

When applying under the Free Movement Directive, applicants must provide proof of identity (i.e. valid passports); proof of family linkage (i.e. valid marriage or birth certificate); proof of dependency or membership of household, if relevant; and proof that the EU citizen is exercising free movement rights in Ireland (i.e. proof that the EU citizen is travelling to or already lives in Ireland).

It is important to note that the State cannot refuse other means of proof than those listed above. Applicants need documentary evidence which supports their claim. The type of proof needed will change depending on the specific conditions of each case. For example, if the applicant is joining an EU citizen who has lived in Ireland for up to 3 months, that citizen has the right to reside in the State without condition under Article 6 of the Free Movement Directive. This means evidence of the EU citizen’s circumstances of residence is not required, other than to prove that they are using their free movement rights. If the EU citizen has resided in the State for more than 3 months, they must fulfil the requirements of the Directive. Under section 2.7 of the Directive, applicants do not have to provide proof of the purpose of their travel or means of subsistence.

Applications can be refused under the Free Movement Directive if the applicant fails to prove that they are a qualifying or permitted family member of an EU citizen. This can happen if the applicant either fails to establish a family relationship or dependency with the EU citizen, or fails to prove that they will be accompanying or joining the EU citizen in Ireland. Applications can also be refused if the State proves that the applicant presents a genuine and sufficiently serious threat to public policy, public security, or public health, or the State proves that there has been an abuse of rights or fraud.

In the case of children under 18 years of age, the consent of both parents is required for the child to travel, especially if they will be separated from one of the parents.

Visa applications for qualifying family members must be processed by way of an accelerated procedure (four weeks) and free of charge. Visa applications for permitted family members are processed in the normal way, and a visa processing fee of € 60 will apply.

Please note that holders of the EU Fam Residence Cards are exempt from the requirement for a visa, and do not fall under the above guidelines.

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