Connecticut, US

Apr 02 2019

Guidelines for De Facto Partners of Critical Skills Employment Permit Holders Published


At a Glance

  • Due to a recent policy change, de facto partners of Critical Skills Employment Permit (CSEP) holders must complete a pre-clearance process before filing a visa application and/or travelling to Ireland.
  • While this may delay entry, it offers more certainty over the previous process, which required the de facto partner to wait up to six months while their residence permit was adjudicated in Ireland, with the possibility of refusal.
  • While this rule change prevents de facto partners from joining the principal applicant immediately upon the start of the assignment, it allows de facto partners to work shortly after upon entry for any employer, which was not allowed before.

The situation

As an update, the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) has published guidance on the application process and estimated processing times for de facto partners of Critical Skills Employment Permit (CSEP) holders, among others, applying for dependent status from abroad.

A closer look

The following are the details on the new application process:

  • Pre-clearance process. Affected de facto partners must now apply for immigration pre-clearance from their country of residence. Successful applicants will be issued an approval letter that they must submit with their visa application (for visa nationals) or to enter Ireland (for visa-exempt nationals).
  • Entry process. The entry process depends on the applicant’s nationality and country of application:
    • Visa-exempt applicants. Visa-exempt applicants can travel to Ireland to complete in-country registration with their pre-clearance approval.
    • Visa nationals from ‘biometric’ locations. Residents of China, India, Nigeria and Pakistan must submit their visa application with their pre-clearance application. This allows the applicant to submit their fingerprints and passport photograph with their pre-clearance application, a requirement for these locations.
    • Other visa nationals. Visa nationals from other countries can submit their visa application after receiving their pre-clearance approval.



  • Travel delay. Due to this new out-of-country step, the de facto partner may now face an eight-week waiting period to enter Ireland after the principal applicant’s employment permit application is approved. Previously, they could enter immediately when the principal applicant’s employment permit was approved.
  • Increased certainty. While this may delay entry, it offers more certainty over the previous process, which required the de facto partner to wait between six and 12 months while their residence permit was adjudicated in Ireland, with the possibility of refusal. As before, applications for de facto partners are decided at the discretion of the authorities on a case-by-case basis. The application process still requires many documents including strong documentary evidence of cohabitation for at least two years.
  • Work authorization. As a reminder, successful de facto partner applicants will be granted work authorization immediately upon obtaining a Stamp 1G Irish Residence Permit (IRP) in country, rather than having to obtain an in-country employment permit through a time-consuming process.
  • Other immigration categories. De facto partners of Hosting Agreement holders (this applies to foreign researchers, which are a lesser-volume group of entrants) are also affected by this pre-clearance rule. De facto partners of other permit holders, including Intracompany Transfer Permits and General Employment Permits, are not subject to the pre-clearance rule at this time.



  • Previous process. INIS previously announced that effective April 1, 2019, de facto partners of CSEP holders must apply for dependent status from abroad, where previously such partners could enter with the principal applicant as visitors and apply for dependent status in country. The changes sought to reduce processing time and improve clarity for de facto partners.
  • De facto partner status in Europe. Approximately half of the European Economic Area countries consider de facto partners eligible for dependent status, with countries finding partners eligible typically requiring prolonged cohabitation and extensive support documents.


Looking ahead

Fragomen expects the government to continue its efforts to streamline existing immigration processes to encourage employment and retention of highly-skilled foreign nationals.

This alert is for informational purposes only. If you have any questions, please contact the global immigration professional with whom you work at Fragomen or send an email to [email protected].