What happens to British citizens and their family members residing in Ireland or planning to move to Ireland?
We are currently in the transition phase, after the withdrawal of the UK from the European Union which will end on the 31st December 2020 (not long now!). As a result of the Withdrawal Agreement the UK is still technically under EU Law. This allows EU citizens to travel freely in and out of the UK as a result of Free movement within any EU Member State. However, like many practitioners we are concerned about the impact on British citizens and their family members residing in EU Member States and in particular Ireland where we receive many queries about this matter.
We have very little information but the most recent update on the Department of Justice’s website relates to a new preclearance scheme for family members of British citizens:
“From the end of the transition period, non-EEA family members of British citizens that are newly resident in Ireland will not come within the scope of the EU Free Movement Directive. A separate preclearance scheme will apply to such persons seeking to reside in the State, and they should be in possession of a valid travel document and, if required, an Irish entry visa or transit visa for the State.”
The Immigration Service Delivery website states that the scheme will be released in the near future, but does not provide a specific time frame for those impacted.
It is clear that free movement for non-EEA family members of British citizens will end after the transition period. This poses significant disruption to those planning to move to Ireland for work or family reasons. We have clients who had planned to relocate to Ireland earlier this year but flights were cancelled as a result of Covid-19. Families are in some what of a panic as they are unsure about what lies ahead for them post-transition period. We should point out that free movement does not end for British citizens – we are referencing their non-EEA family members.
In lieu of the introduction of this preclearance scheme, those British citizens and their family members who wish to make the move to the Republic of Ireland should avail of the EU Free Movement rights while they hold it although time is pressing on and with restrictions in place this is impossible for many.
If you require any further information on living in Ireland as a family member of a British citizen, or would like to find out how we can help you with an immigration matter please contact us:
028 3026 2200