Scheme to help non-European partners of Irish to work here
A new pre-clearance process is to be introduced to help non-European partners of Irish citizens live and work in Ireland.
The scheme aims to speed up the permission process and allow applicants to apply from overseas and work in Ireland without delay.
Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan launched the "streamlined" process to make it easier for Irish emigrants to return home with de facto partners from outside the European Economic Area.
For immigration purposes, a person may be considered the de facto partner, opposite or same sex, of another person if "they have a mutual commitment to a shared life to the exclusion of all others akin to a marriage or civil partnership in practice though not in law".
De facto partners of Irish citizens will be allowed to apply for permission to reside in the country before they travel to Ireland. "Pre-clearance will provide greater certainty for people considering or planning on moving back home to Ireland with their non-EEA de facto partner," Mr Flanagan said. "I hope this will encourage more people to come home."
The change means the immigration situation of de facto partners will be more akin to non-EEA spouses and civil partners of Irish citizens.
Previously, the application process for de facto partners could only begin after their arrival in the State and may have taken up to a year to complete. Now, once pre-clearance has been granted, applicants can arrive and register and work here immediately.