An Irish passport provides numerous travel opportunities worldwide. As citizens of Ireland, individuals can enjoy indefinite stays in European Union countries and the United Kingdom. Additionally, they can visit Australia and the United States without a visa. Obtaining an Irish passport through descent is considered one of the best routes to becoming an Irish citizen.
This programme applies only to foreigners whose parents or grandparents were Irish citizens. If an expat without Irish relatives wishes to obtain Irish citizenship through naturalisation, they must reside in the Republic of Ireland for a minimum of five years.
Having an Irish passport allows for dual citizenship, meaning you do not have to renounce your original citizenship. Read on to learn more about the process of obtaining an Irish passport by descent.
Who is Eligible for Irish Citizenship?
Only four categories of foreign nationals have the right to apply for Irish citizenship:
- If you or one of your parents were born on the island of Ireland before 2005, you automatically become an Irish citizen. In this case, you can apply for an Irish passport without going through the citizenship application process.
- If one of your parents is an Irish citizen but was born outside Ireland, you need to submit your application to the Foreign Birth Register.
- If your parents were not born in Ireland but one of your grandparents was, you can still become an Irish citizen by descent. In this case, you need to submit your application to the Foreign Birth Register.
- Foreigners without any Irish-born parents or grandparents but with at least one great-grandparent born on the island of Ireland can apply for fast-track naturalisation after three years of residence in the country.
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Expats in the first category, who are already considered Irish citizens, simply need to visit the nearest Consulate to apply for an Irish passport.
For individuals falling into the second and third categories, who have a parent or grandparent who is an Irish citizen, the process involves applying for Irish citizenship through the Foreign Birth Register. The processing of such applications typically takes 12 to 18 months.
The fourth category of expats must obtain a residence permit and reside in Ireland for a minimum of three years before being eligible to apply for citizenship. Once the application is submitted, it may take up to 30 months for the authorities to review and make a decision on granting citizenship.
The Immigrant Investor Programme offers a streamlined pathway to obtaining a residence permit in Ireland. This program, often referred to as the “Golden Visa,” enables applicants to secure a five-year permanent residence permit. To maintain their residency status, investors are only required to spend one day per year in the country. However, in order to be eligible for naturalisation and apply for Irish citizenship, foreign investors must spend several months per year in Ireland. To qualify for the Immigrant Investor Programme, individuals must have made a minimum investment of €500,000 in the Irish economy.
The Application Process
Applications can take anywhere from one to five years to be processed.
Stage 1. The First Year
During the first year, you will need to gather all the necessary documents that prove your origins. First-category expats can contact the nearest Irish Consulate and apply for a passport. Second- and third-category foreigners must send a request to the Foreign Birth Register. People falling into the fourth category must obtain a residence permit in Ireland. The application process for foreign investors is much easier and can be completed in a few months.
Stage 2. The Second Year
Expats falling into the second and third categories can expect a waiting period of approximately 12 to 18 months before receiving their certificate of citizenship. On the other hand, individuals in the fourth category are required to reside in Ireland for a minimum of three years before they become eligible to submit an application for accelerated naturalisation to the Minister.
Stage 3. The Third and Fourth Years
Fourth-category expats, who have completed three years of legal residence in Ireland, can submit their application to the Ministry. The application package should include all the necessary documents that prove your Irish descent. The average processing time for such applications is approximately two and a half years.
Requirements for Obtaining Citizenship
Before applying for Irish citizenship by descent, there are certain mandatory requirements that all applicants must fulfill. Regardless of their category, applicants are required to provide supporting documents that prove their Irish origin, such as birth, death, or marriage certificates of their close relatives.
For foreigners falling into the fourth category, additional documentation is necessary. This includes police records from each country where they have resided for more than six months since reaching the age of majority. Furthermore, their application package must include bank statements and cheques that confirm their legal income.
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Spouses and Children
When parents obtain an Irish passport, their children automatically become Irish citizens. However, the reverse does not apply. Children cannot transmit their citizenship to their parents.
Spouses who have been married for a minimum of three years and have primarily resided in Ireland during this period are eligible to apply for naturalisation. Additionally, it is important for a spouse not to have been absent from Ireland for more than 12 consecutive months prior to applying for naturalisation.
- Should I apply for the Immigrant Investor Programme to obtain a residence permit in Ireland?
- No, it is not necessary. You can apply for a residence permit in Ireland even without a "Golden Visa." In such cases, you have the option to seek employment in Ireland or establish your own business. However, if you choose to invest a minimum of €500,000 in the Irish economy, it becomes significantly easier to obtain an Irish passport in the future.
- Can I apply for Irish citizenship if I have Irish cousins, aunts or uncles? What if my Irish relatives are beyond the fourth generation?
- Unfortunately, individuals with Irish relatives of only the second-degree or older than great-grandparents are not eligible for citizenship or accelerated naturalisation in Ireland.
- Do I need to reside in Ireland and apply for citizenship by descent in person?
- For individuals falling into the first three categories, it is not necessary to permanently reside in Ireland during the citizenship application process. Visiting the nearest Consulate is sufficient. However, those in the fourth category are required to establish a substantial connection with Ireland, which entails spending a significant amount of time in the country. The Irish government advises that applicants in this category spend a minimum of six months per year in Ireland. Holders of the “Golden Visa” enjoy more flexibility in this regard.
In A Nutshell
Obtaining an Irish passport through descent can take anywhere from one to five years, depending on the proximity of your Irish relatives. The closer the familial connection, the faster your application is typically processed. It’s important to note that having Irish ancestry alone does not automatically grant you citizenship, but it does make you eligible to apply for naturalisation after residing in Ireland for a continuous period of three years. Participating in the Immigrant Investor Programme and investing a minimum of €500,000 into the economy of the Republic of Ireland is the easiest route to obtaining a permanent residence permit.
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