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UK permanent residency for Irish citizens

Irish citizens are afforded a special status in UK immigration and British nationality law which pre-dates EU law. An Irish citizen can travel freely into and out of the UK without restriction, and are not subject to the requirement of exercising EU treaty rights.

Adult Irish citizens moving to the UK

Irish citizens are:

  • Not required to exercise EU treaty rights
  • Considered settled upon entry in the UK
  • Not required to obtain a permanent residence card before qualifying for naturalisation

After five years of continuous residence in the UK, an Irish citizen can apply for naturalisation as a British citizen. Both Ireland and the UK allow dual nationality.

Find out more about naturalising as a British citizen on an Irish passport

Children under 18

Irish citizens are deemed as being settled in the UK as per section 1(3) of the Immigration Act 1971.

The consequence of this is that any children under the age of 18 (in most circumstances, though it can sometimes extend to those under the age of 21) of this Irish citizen and a British citizen parent can apply for indefinite leave to remain (ILR) immediately and the child would not have to apply for an dependancy visas.

Broadly speaking, then, a child can claim ILR where:

  • The child is under 18 years of age
  • One parent holds Irish citizenship
  • The other parent holds British citizenship

The definition of “present and settled” is given in paragraph 6 as:

“…means that the person concerned is settled in the UK and, at the time that an application under these rules is made, is physically present here or is coming here with or to join the applicant and intends to make the UK their home with the applicant if the application is successful.”

In the context of an application under paragraph 298 of HC 395, the requirement states that one of the following should be true:

  1. Both parents are present and settled in the UK
  2. Both parents are being admitted on the same occasion for settlement
  3. One parent is present and settled in the UK and the other is being admitted on the same occasion for settlement

It should be noted that this provision does not relate to citizens of the other European Union member states – only Irish citizens are treated as settled for this purpose.

In the context of a child born in the UK to an Irish citizen, that child will acquire citizenship under section 1(1)b of the British Nationality Act 1981, provided that the Irish citizen is ordinarily resident in the UK at the time of the birth. In the context of an application for naturalisation as a British citizen under section 6(2) or 6(1) of the British Nationality Act 1981, an Irish citizen must be deemed as being "without time restrictions on their stay in the UK".


Contact our immigration team

Phone us (SA): +27 (0) 21 657 2180

Phone us (UK): +44 (0) 20 7759 7580

South Africa

Cape Town
Regent Square
Doncaster Road
Kenilworth 7708
t: +27 (0) 21 657 2120

201 The Annex
Ridgeside Office Park
t: +27 (0) 31 536 8843

United Kingdom

Castlewood House
77/91 New Oxford Street
t: +44 (0) 20 7759 7514

5-7 Selsdon Road
South Croydon
t: +44 (0) 20 7759 7581


Suite 8.06
9 Yarra Street
South Yarra
Melbourne VIC 3141
t: +613 (0) 86 514 500

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