An unpublicized change in Irish immigration rules has eliminated the ability of all but wealthy non-European Union citizens from retiring in the country.

Effective without notice some time in March 2015, the Ireland Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) changed the standards by which non-EU retirees are determined to be financially suitable for residency.

The new rule requires that retirees have an annual income of no less than $55,138 (€50,000) per person,($110,276/€100,000 for a married couple) for the remainder of their lives in Ireland, regardless of their existing cash on hand or lack of debt.

Retirees have also had their immigration status changed from Stamp 3 to Stamp 0, "a low level immigration status which is not intended to be reckonable for Long Term Residence or Citizenship. It is granted to persons who have been approved by INIS for a limited and specific stay in Ireland." according the INIS website.

David and Maura Woods relocated to Ireland from California in May 2014, having purchased a home in County Mayo. They applied for permission to remain in Ireland in September 2014, and despite having arrived before INIS changed its methodology, their application was rejected on the basis of not having an annual income of €100,000, and at the same time issued with an order to leave Ireland in seven days.

Mr. and Mrs. Woods are presently contesting the INIS decision as their cash assets and projected income far exceed any potential expenses. They further state that they are debt free.

"We paid cash for our house and car. As we have no debt, have private health insurance, and live a modest lifestyle, we can easily get by on less than €25,000 per year -- but INIS, for no explanation, wants us to receive four times that amount," Mr. Woods states.

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"The standard by which Ireland has always judged retirees has been whether or not they would be a 'burden on the State'. Obviously, we are not now, nor ever will be, a burden on the Irish economy - just the opposite. We spend our money in local stores, pay Irish taxes, and support charitable organisations. Neighbors in our village are shocked that their government is trying to turn us away." Mr. Woods continued.

The effect on retirees who arrived prior to the new rules is unclear, as each non-EU retiree must apply yearly for a one year extension of their passport stamp. Potentially, American, Canadian, and other retirees may be asked to leave despite having lived comfortably in Ireland for years or even decades.

* Originally published in October 2015.

Immigration rules by which non-EU retirees are determined to be financially suitable for residency in Ireland have changed.Getty