The Irish government has announced a new pre-clearance process that will make it significantly easier for non-EU citizen partners of Irish citizens to live and work in Ireland. 

A new pre-clearance process aims to make it easier and faster for Irish citizens who have immigrated to return to Ireland and build a life there with partners who are not European citizens. 

Until now, "de facto" (i.e. not married or in a documented civil union) partners have had to move to Ireland before applying for clearance to work there, a process that could take up to a year in many cases. 

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This was highlighted as a significant deterrent for couples and families who wanted to move back to Ireland but could not foresee living on income from only one partner for such a long period of time. 

Minister @CharlieFlanagan welcomes a New Preclearance process introduced to help Non-EEA de facto partners of Irish citizens to live and work in Ireland. See more information at this link

— Department of Justice & Equality (@DeptJusticeIRL) August 19, 2019

Under the new system, partners can apply for pre-clearance to live and work in Ireland from abroad, and then once they arrive and register with the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) they will have immediate access to the Irish labor market. 

"De facto partners" include any couples who "have a mutual commitment to a shared life to the exclusion of all others akin to a marriage or civil partnership in practice though not in law."

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"Pre-clearance will provide greater certainty for people considering or planning on moving back home to Ireland with their non-EEA de facto partner," said Charlie Flanagan, Ireland's Minister for Justice and Equality. 

"I hope this will encourage more people to come home. In recent times, many of our young and our most highly educated citizens have emigrated," he added.

"They may have wanted to further their careers, make more money, or simply to experience the wider world. While away, some have met life partners and perhaps even started their own families.

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"We want to show these people that Ireland is ready to welcome them home and that we will provide a clear immigration and labor market pathway for their de facto partners."

Full details on the pre-clearance system are now available on the INIS website,