Green Card: marriage and citizenship

“I AM an American citizen, and my fiancé is Irish-born, living here on a work visa. We are possibly planning on getting married next year in Ireland. How does one go about planning a marriage in Ireland? My fiancé is rather clueless because he’s been out of the country for so long, and he doesn’t have much family there; we’re doing it on a small scale because we both love it there so much. I know this isn’t an immigration question, but where should we begin? Also, could I be an Irish citizen after we get married?”

THERE is plenty of information available via the Internet about all you’ll need to know about planning an Irish wedding. The General Register Office is the Irish government body dealing with marriage, birth and death records (www.groireland.ie; click the getting married link on the left). Even the American Embassy in Dublin provides comprehensive information on its website (www.dublin.usembassy.gov).

You can choose either a church or civil wedding in the county of your choosing. If you wish to get married in a church you’ll have to select one and contact parish officials on how to proceed.

If you choose a civil wedding you’ll have to contact the local registry office at least three months in advance of the date in order to get the process started (Ireland doesn’t do Vegas-style quickie weddings.)

Contacting the registry office nearest to where you wish to marry will also be necessary for a church wedding, and a full list of offices can be found at http://www.hse.ie/eng/services/find_a_service/bdm/.

Usually these registry office appointments are conducted in person, but as you and your fiancé live here you can communicate via mail. If your request is approved you will receive a marriage registration form, the official government document allowing the marriage to proceed. Be aware that you’ll have to meet the registrar in person at least five days prior to the wedding.

If you choose a civil ceremony, the Irish government is fairly strict as to where such an occasion can be held – for example, outdoor ceremonies are prohibited.

“The venue must be seemly and dignified . . . the requirement that the marriage be solemnized in a fixed structure that is open to the public precludes marriages being solemnized in the open air, a tent, marquee or other temporary structure, or a private dwelling,” say the rules which you’ll see in further detail on the above mentioned websites.

In short, there’s plenty of information available that will allow you to plan the wedding that you want. But as far as Irish citizenship goes after the marriage, that will be more complex.

We’ll assume that you don’t have a parent or grandparent born in Ireland, both of which would entitle you to Irish citizenship. Those who marry Irish citizens can become eligible for naturalization, but before they start the process the marriage must be at least three years old.

Also, a lengthy period of permanent residency in Ireland is mandatory – at least two of the prior four years prior to the date of application must have been spent in Ireland.

For more on Irish citizenship particulars, visit the Irish Embassy’s website at www.embassyofireland.org.

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