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Irish Citizenship by Descent from the USA

Applying for Irish citizenship by descent is a complicated process with different eligibility criteria and departments, and it can get confusing knowing which route is right for your circumstance.

Here at IAS, we have a global reach, having over 7,000 applications approved. If you have any questions about how to get Irish citizenship by descent then call us at 03334149244 or contact us online and our team of legal experts will help.

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    Irish Citizenship by Descent Overview

    The main change in Irish citizenship came in 1956 with the Nationality and Citizenship Act. This gave the Irish minister the authority to determine whether individuals were of Irish descent or association.

    It also clarified the methods by which a person could claim citizenship through descent, as well as by other means. As will be explained below, your parents, grandparents, or even great-grandparents will need to be eligible to be an Irish citizen, and this eligibility criteria largely depends on where they were born.

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    Eligibility for Irish Citizenship by Descent

    The Irish citizenship by descent requirements are different to those for citizenship by birth, and the two are easily confused. If you or your parents were born on the island of Ireland before 2005 then you are, by default, an Irish citizen by birth.

    However, if your grandparent was born on the island of Ireland, or your parent is an Irish citizen but was born outside of the island of Ireland, then you can apply to become an Irish citizen by descent. The key distinction to note is the generational gap between yourself, your parents, and your grandparents, and the location in which they were born.

    It is worth noting that if a person is not on the Foreign Births Register at the time they are giving birth, the child will not be entitled to Irish citizenship by descent.

    Requirements for Irish Citizenship by Descent

    If you are looking to register with the Foreign Births Register for Irish citizenship by descent then there are some key criteria you will need to meet, and they are as follows:

    • To be related to an Irish citizen or somebody who is entitled to be an Irish citizen, by blood or adoption
    • Demonstrate that you have a period of residence in Ireland of at least 3 years to show you have a genuine connection to the country
    • That your application is not based on a relative older than a great-grandparent as these are generally denied.

    Routes Towards Irish Citizenship by Descent

    Given the requirements and eligibility criteria listed above, there are two main routes for gaining Irish citizenship by descent. The first route is to have been adopted by somebody who is an Irish citizen or who is entitled to be an Irish citizen.

    The second route is to trace your family lineage back to see whether or not your grandparents, or even your great-grandparents, were Irish citizens or if they were eligible for Irish citizenship. However, you will need to cross-reference the various eligibility criteria and requirements mentioned above to make sure this is a viable route for your specific situation.

    How To Get Irish Citizenship by Descent from the USA

    To apply for Irish citizenship by descent outside of the island of Ireland, you will need to contact the Department of Foreign Affairs. They manage the Foreign Births Register so they will be able to determine whether or not you are entitled to be an Irish citizen on this basis.

    Then you will need to decide which route is right for you, and at which point your eligibility is applicable. For example, it could be that your parents were eligible for citizenship, or it could be that one of your grandparents was Irish instead.

    You will have to fill out your application online and then print it off before mailing it along with any photographs, documents, and fees. You can also find a local Irish embassy and mail it there. After this, you will need to wait for your certificate that confirms that you have been entered into the Irish Register of Foreign Births, at which point you can apply for an Irish passport.

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      Processing Time for Irish Citizenship by Descent

      It is hard to give an exact figure for the processing time for Irish citizenship by descent. At the moment, people are waiting for around two years for their Foreign Birth Register application to be processed. However, you must be prepared to wait for up to 30 months to receive a decision.

      The amount of time it takes can depend on several factors. For example, if your application requires a lot of documents then these will need to be verified, which will take longer. It also depends on what route you are applying with. Depending on how far back your eligibility falls, more documents and checks will need to take place.

      To avoid any delays or extra processing time, make sure you have all your documents ready when you come to apply, and also make sure you pay the application fee in full at the earliest opportunity.

      Cost of Irish Citizenship by Descent Application

      The Foreign Births Register has a cost of €278 for adults and €153 for those under the age of 18. This payment is made when you make your application.

      This excludes the cost of obtaining any of the paperwork you might be asked for as part of the application process. It is also important to note that this excludes the cost of applying for an Irish passport which is €80 for ten years.

      Born in Ireland

      If you were born on the island of Ireland, it does not necessarily mean you are automatically granted Irish citizenship. If you were born on the island of Ireland before 1 January 2005 then you are entitled to Irish citizenship. If you were born on or after 1 January 2005 then your citizenship depends on two factors:

      • Whether your parents were citizens at the time of your birth
      • How much time your parents spent in Ireland before you were born

      These changes were introduced to avoid citizenship being given to those who have a relatively weak claim. This makes sure that only the most applicable people can claim Irish citizenship if they were born on the island of Ireland.

      Irish Citizenship When You Are Born Abroad

      If you were born abroad then you will be eligible for Irish citizenship if one (or both) of your parents were born in Ireland and were an Irish citizen at the time of your birth. This is still the case if your parents were not born on the island of Ireland – as long as they meet the eligibility criteria to be entitled to Irish citizenship.

      This also applies to those whose parent was deceased at the time of birth but who would have been entitled to Irish citizenship based on this eligibility criteria. This means that you will be able to apply for Irish citizenship regardless of whether your parents are married or whether the family member linking you to your Irish lineage is alive or not.

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        Irish Citizen Parent Born Outside Ireland

        In some cases, your Irish citizenship will depend on the eligibility of your parents for Irish citizenship. However, your parents must have lived in Ireland for 3 out of the 4 years before your birth and they must have the right to live in Ireland or Northern Ireland without any restrictions on their period of residence.

        This means that, for people currently in the USA, claiming Irish citizenship based on your parents’ eligibility for Irish citizenship can be quite difficult. It would probably be better to see if your grandparents were Irish citizens instead, as the clause about ‘residence before birth’ would not need to be factored into the application. Here at IAS, we can help you find out which route is best for you.

        Citizenship Through Descent from Irish Grandparents

        It can be a complicated process to try and understand which route applies to you. Hopefully, the following explanation will clarify the various routes:

        There are five types of people primarily concerned with Irish citizenship by descent, on which all applications are based:

        1. Born in the island of Ireland on or before 31 December 2004 – entitled to an Irish citizenship by default.
        2. Born on the island of Ireland on or after 1 January 2005 – entitled to Irish citizenship as long as one or both parents are entitled to live in the island of Ireland without restrictions on their residency and was a resident on the island of Ireland for 3 out of 4 years before your birth.
        3. A child of type 1 and you were born outside of the island of Ireland – you are an Irish citizen by default.
        4. A child of type 3 (grandchild of type 1), born outside the island of Ireland – you are entitled to Irish citizenship but only through the Foreign Births Register.
        5. A child of type 4 (grandchild of type 3 and a great-grandchild of type 1), born outside the island of Ireland – you are entitled to Irish citizenship through the Foreign Births Register but only if your parent was registered at the time of your birth.

        By deconstructing the various routes in this way, you can see how Irish citizenship is based on layers of family lineage. The island of Ireland being split between the UK and the Republic of Ireland is one of the reasons these routes are quite complicated.

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        The Benefits of Irish Citizenship By Descent

        It is estimated that about 10% of the American population is of Irish descent. This means that many Americans could apply to become Irish citizens, which comes with many benefits.

        The most obvious benefit is that you will have full access to the European Union. Unlike the UK, the Republic of Ireland is still a member of the European Union with a free flow of movement between its 27 member states. This opens up a whole new group of possibilities to live and work in many other countries.

        Not only this but you will also have visa-free access to 173 countries on account of your Irish passport. Many countries require visas as well as passports but the Irish passport is known for being particularly favorable in many countries around the world. Another point to consider is that your future family, and their future family, will be eligible to be Irish citizens and have access to these benefits as well, making it a very attractive option.

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          How can IAS Help?

          It can feel overwhelming trying to figure out which route is right for you when you are looking to apply for Irish citizenship by descent. Here at IAS, our immigration experts are well-versed in this field and we will be able to navigate you through the process from beginning to end.

          We specialize in immigration packages, admin or judicial reviews, and immigration detentions, as well as visa issues and asylum claims or appeals. If you have any questions about these services or want to find out more about Irish citizenship by descent then do not hesitate to call us at 03334149244 or contact us online and one of our immigration experts will be on hand to help.

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                    Frequently Asked Questions

                    You can claim Irish citizenship based on your DNA because if your parent, grandparent, or even great-grandparent were eligible to be an Irish citizen then this eligibility may pass down to you, provided some key requirements are met.

                    There is no age limit for claiming Irish citizenship by descent and applications can be made for adults as well as those under the age of 18.

                    If your parent was born in Ireland and you can prove they were an Irish citizen residing on the island of Ireland then you are eligible for Irish citizenship by descent.

                    Provided you, your parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents meet the various requirements and eligibility criteria then you will be eligible for Irish citizenship by descent.

                    To obtain an Irish passport, you will need to be registered on the Registration of Foreign Births. This depends on whether your parents, grandparents, or great-grandparents were Irish, as well as where they were born.

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