Happy St. Patrick’s Day!
The Irish Premier recently came to the US and announced changes to their laws making it easier for Irish-Americans to get Irish citizenship. In this economic downturn, which has hit Ireland harder than any of the other EU countires, they are trying to get people to move to Ireland.
The current law gives you Irish citizenship if one of your parents or grandparents was born in Ireland. You need proof of their citizenship (birth certificate), their marriage and your birth. There is no residency requirement.
The new law will give you citizenship if a great-grandparent was born there! The catch is that you have to live in Ireland, then apply. I don’t know how many years you have to live in Ireland first, but once this law goes into effect, the information will be on the Irish Embassy website. See the Resources at the bottom of this post for links for more information on the current laws.
New York Times, “Irish Premier’s U.S. Trip Has Dark Tone“, by Andy Newman, March 15, 2009
“And in a move to woo Irish-Americans, Mr. Cowen proposed measures to make it easier for Americans to claim Irish citizenship, reversing a restrictive course the Irish government took in 2005. … his proposal to ease naturalization by allowing Americans whose nearest Irish ancestor is a great-grandparent to qualify for citizenship, provided that they have spent considerable time studying or working in Ireland. … The number of Americans with Irish ancestry has been estimated to be as high as 40 million, and millions of those people have no closer blood tie to Ireland than a great-grandparent.”
Why Become Irish?
When you get your Irish citizenship, you can live and work in Ireland. Since Ireland is part of the European Union (EU), you can also live and work legally in any member countries.
How We Became Irish
Steve and I are both US citizens and Irish citizens. We were both born in Canada. We emigrated to the US in the late 1980s, lived and worked here with “green cards” for ten years, then became citizens.
My father was born in Ireland and emigrated to Canada just before I was born. About 25 years ago, when I found out that I was considered a citizen by Ireland because my father had been born there (citzenship by descent), I applied for an Irish passport. I needed a lot of documentation – the long form of my birth certificate, my father’s birth certificate, my parent’s marriage license – but I gathered it and sent it in. It was all returned and I got my Irish passport.
Steve became an Irish citizen based on being married to one (me!). We contacted the Irish Embassy in San Francisco and they told us exactly what steps to follow. (They were very helpful via email and the phone.) We sent in all my original documents, plus Steve’s long form birth certificate and our marriage license. They sent him a citizenship document. He then applied for a passport and sent in that document as proof of citizenship.
Note that the laws changed in 2005, after Steve got his citizenship. Now to get citizenship through marriage, you must live in Ireland for two years, then apply. You must also intend to remain living in Ireland.
The passports renew every ten years. Renewal is easy and no extra documents have to be sent in. We have never traveled on these passports, but if we decide to live in England or France for a couple of years, our EU citizenship will make it legal.
- Read more about citizenship requirements for Ireland on the Irish Embassy site.
- Documents about citizenship and naturalisation are on the Irish Nationalisation and Immigration Service site. (I linked to the page with the best general information.)
- Document about getting Irish citizenship through marriage on the INIS site. (This links to a PDF.)
- Irish Central – News about Ireland