The decision of the UK to leave the EU will have major repercussions in all areas and may affect the immigration status of UK nationals resident in Ireland, especially in the event of a “no deal” Brexit.

Once the UK leaves the EU,  all UK nationals who do not have citizenship of another Member State will cease to be EU citizens. In a “no deal” Brexit scenario this would happen automatically on the date of exit (presently set at 31st October 2019). In the event of the withdrawal of the UK by agreement, this would most likely involve a transition period during which UK nationals would probably still be able to avail of EU Treaty Rights, or some variant thereof.

The first thing to note is that the European Commission advises that as a result of the Common Travel Area (CTA) between the UK and Ireland and, the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed between both governments on 8th May 2019, Irish and UK nationals will have the right to reside and move freely between the two States without the need for visas and/or residence permits.
It is very important to understand that these are domestic rights that each State has agreed to and is NOT the continuation and/or extension of EU Treaty Rights. Once the UK leaves the EU its nationals will cease to be EU citizens and therefore may not automatically benefit from the right to free movement and all that flows from that.

In the event that the MOU is not adhered to post Brexit, UK nationals who wish to continue to reside/work/study in Ireland (without the benefit of EU Treaty Rights) should have some of options open to them, by making applications for:

  1. Permission to work in Ireland,
  2. Long Term Residence,
  3. Family Reunification, or
  4. Irish Born Child Scheme.

These are Irish domestic immigration schemes and do not trigger any right to EU Treaty Rights.

Should a UK national residing in Ireland wish to try avail themselves of EU Treaty Rights, there are some possible routes that may be available, dependent upon the particular circumstances of the individual and their eligibility, by:

  1. Applying for EU Treaty Rights (if they have not already done so). This must be done prior to any Brexit date.
  2. Applying for retention of EU Treaty Rights already exercised. This must be done before any Brexit date.
  3. Reliance on the CJEU judgment in Zambrano C-43/90, being the parent of an Irish citizen child. This would grant EU Treaty Rights to the Irish citizen child.
  4. Many UK nationals have more recently sought to rely on the CJEU judgments in Singh C-370/90 and O&B C456/12. However, it is unclear at present how applicable this may be post Brexit.
  5. Acquisition of Irish citizenship.

The acquisition of Irish citizenship, should the UK national be eligible to apply, is perhaps the most fool proof way of ensuring access to EU Treaty Rights post Brexit as becoming an Irish citizen automatically makes the person an EU citizen.

There are a number of ways Irish citizenship can be acquired depending on the person’s family history:

  1. By birth on the island of Ireland before 1st January 2005.
  2. Born to an Irish citizen parent who was born on the island of Ireland.
  3. Where a grandparent was born on the island of Ireland.
  4. Born to an Irish citizen parent who was not born on the island of Ireland and who is entered in the Foreign Birth Register.
  5. By Irish descent or association.
  6. By residence abroad in the Irish public service.
  7. Marriage to an Irish citizen.
  8. Naturalisation.

Once a person has acquired Irish citizenship they are eligible to apply for an Irish passport. An Irish passport is documentary proof that the person is an Irish citizen and thus an EU citizen thereby entitling them to avail of EU Treaty Rights.