So you and your partner have made the big decision to come back to Ireland, but your partner is not an Irish citizen. What should you do next?   

Here at FRS Recruitment we have teamed up with Cross Care Migrant Project to give advice on the topic of De Facto Partners. Cross Care Migrant Project is a Dublin based NGO providing information and advocacy support to Irish emigrants and people who have moved to Ireland.

Crosscare Migrant Project

What do you mean by De Facto Partner?

De facto partners are defined as someone you are in a relationship with ‘akin to marriage’. In practice, you need to show you’ve been living together (co-habiting) for at least 2 years. This is basically non-negotiable. Once you’ve reached that minimum then you can make the application.

The Application Process

Every de facto partner, whether they are visa required or not, needs to make a ‘pre-clearance’ application. It’s a little different if you’re married: spouses from non-visa required countries (like Australia and Brazil) don’t need to do anything in advance, but those from visa required countries (like India and China) need to make a visa application. ALL de facto partners need to go through a process in advance of coming to Ireland, regardless of what country they’re from.

The Pre-Clearance Process

The pre-clearance process is broken down into 2 parts: an online form (just information) and then submitting supporting documents and making the payment to your local Embassy or Consulate. It’s a little confusing, but the online form is actually the same as your visa application. Don’t worry though, it’s just a portal to enter key information and most of the hard work is actually in the preparation. There is some prep work you need to do first before you enter the portal!  

Documentation and Evidence

Both you and your de facto partner need to submit quite a lot of information, including a timeline of your relationship and evidence to prove it, and proof of your finances. Think about it like writing up a personal history from the time you met, and populating it with things like rent agreements, payslips, photographs, Facebook timeline extracts and things like that. It sounds a little intrusive, but really there’s no other way for an Immigration Officer to work out if your relationship is genuine or not. And the payoff if successful is great: clearance to enter Ireland and register to live and work with very little hassle. Information on this can be found on the Irish Immigration website.

Click HERE to enter the pre-clearance portal

Processing Time 

Processing times can vary. We’ve seen them be as quick as 10 weeks, but things are taking a bit longer now and it’s best to plan for around 6 months. If the Irish citizen needs to come back a bit sooner, that’s ok – the pre-clearance application can still be processed and the non-EU partner can come later. CLICK HERE to see the latest processing times.

What do we do when our pre-clearance has been granted?

Once the pre-clearance is granted, then it’s just a case of getting to Ireland and registering with a local Immigration Officer. In Dublin this meeting is booked online first, and it takes a few months (insider tip: you can book it prior to arriving if you know your entry date). Outside of  Dublin, you need to go to your local Garda Headquarters, and often you can plan this in advance too. CLICK HERE for more information about both routes.

Once registered, it takes a few weeks to get the IRP (Irish residence permit) card and that’s that: all done!

Additional Information 

Always check on your local Irish Embassy or Consulate to see if there are any local requirements or useful information. You’ll be sending documents to one of these, so it’s helpful to see do they provide any extra guidance. And we’re available to help too – see and feel free to get in touch by email on We can’t fill out the form or write your application letters, but we can give information and guidance, and we’re always happy to answer any questions you have.

Emigrant Support

Crosscare Migrant Project is a Dublin based NGO funded by the Emigrant Support Programme of the Department of Foreign Affairs to provide information and advocacy support to Irish emigrants, and returning emigrants. See for more information.