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Green Card: Becoming an Irish Citizen

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Q: "I desire to live and work in Ireland as an Irishman. I believe I am eligible to obtain Irish citizenship and an Irish passport because of my family.

I have a great aunt born in Co. Wexford who raised my mother after the death of my natural grandmother in childbirth. (My grandmother was born in Brooklyn.) In other words, I have a great aunt who became my step grandmother. "Is there any way for someone in Irish circles, here or in Ireland, who can issue me with the desired Irish passport? I have all the relevant documents, mainly the Irish birth certificate, marriage certificates, which is important because I want to be legal. I know Irish law, but I need someone to say, with me, that a 'step' grandparent is a grandparent!"

A: Truth be told, that is not going to happen - not unless the "step" relationship between your mother and your great aunt was formalized by a court of law. If it was you would have surely mentioned this important fact.

You share the desire of many Americans without the required Irish family links to legally live and work in Ireland. Unfortunately for you, the situation as you've outlined it renders you ineligible for Irish citizenship.

The rules regarding the passage of Irish citizenship to those not born in Ireland are pretty straightforward. Those with an Irish-born parent are automatically considered to be Irish citizens at birth. They can produce the relevant birth/marriage certificates, and complete the required paperwork, to receive an Irish passport.

Those with an Irish-born grandparent are also eligible for Irish citizenship, but they must apply for it. This is done by registering in the Irish Register of Foreign Births, a process that can take several months to complete.

In order for this to be successful, the applicant will have to produce a number of supporting documents, including birth and marriage certificates for all pertinent relatives in the chain, including parents and the eligible grandparent.

As your grandparent was born in Brooklyn, there would be no way for you to sign on to the foreign births register. There are no provisions for those who were raised, but not legally adopted, by an Irish relative.

Because of Ireland's booming economy, and the country's membership in the European Union, acquiring Irish citizenship is highly desirable, and bending the law for cases such as yours would not be possible.

In fact Irish citizenship law is tightening, given the recent changes which require spouses of Irish citizens to reside in Ireland for a period of time before being eligible to apply for citizenship. Prior to this change, which was enacted in November of 2005, spouses could seek citizenship through a process of post-nuptial citizenship through an Irish consular post abroad, without having to live in the country.

You seem to have contacted the appropriate Irish authorities with regards to your situation, so there's not much more than can be said. If you wish to work in Ireland there are opportunities, certainly, but to secure legal status you will have to have an employer act as a sponsor for a work visa.

For more information on Irish citizenship law, visit www.irelandemb.org. For more on employment opportunities, visit www.fas.ie. FAS is the Irish national employment agency.

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