LAWLINK – Family reunion

Q: My husband was born outside of Ireland, although he has been living here since he was a child. He recently went to his home country which is outside the EU, to visit one of  his parents who was ill. Even though they had been in Ireland for over 20 years, he is now worried about getting back into Ireland. He has a few weeks left before he comes home. Is there anything that can be done so he can return without difficulty?

A:This is a difficult question to answer without knowing precisely what your husband’s position was in Ireland before he left. Presumably, if he has been living and working in Ireland for a considerable period of time, he has a visa of some sort (perhaps a D visa). This may well entitle him to return to Ireland unencumbered.

It is possible that he was granted or sought Irish citizenship at some stage in the past. If he did go through that process, he is an Irish citizen and is entitled to an Irish passport. He cannot be refused entry as an Irish citizen returning to Ireland.

If he has not sought naturalisation in the past, given that he has been in Ireland for in excess of five years, he may well be entitled to seek to now become an Irish citizen. However, generally speaking, he must be in the State before making the application.

Depending on his country of birth too then, it is possible that he might not require a visa to re-enter Ireland.

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You do not mention whether you are an Irish or EU citizen. As a spouse of an Irish or EU citizen, he would be entitled to seek to return to Ireland to reunite with you. The precise steps that can be taken differ depending on his circumstances, and that process can sometimes be drawn out.

You should firstly make contact with the embassy of his country of birth in Ireland, and he should make contact with the Irish embassy in his home country. Generally speaking, they will be able to offer some preliminary advice, particularly on the issue of visas.

You should also make enquiries from a specialist immigration solicitor in Ireland. Steps should be taken to regularise his situation prior to him attempting to travel to Ireland, as a refusal to enter can be counterproductive. You would be strongly advised to take any necessary advices now.