Immigration & Citizenship

GLEN have achieved major progress in the recognition of same-sex couples in Irish immigration and citizenship provisions. In immigration, same-sex civil partners are treated the same as opposite-sex married spouses and de facto same-sex couples are treated the same de facto opposite-sex couples. In citizenship, civil partners are treated the same as opposite sex married couples.

Glenn Cunningham-Vilar and Adriano Cunningham Vilar who were the first same-sex couple recognised in Ireland when their Northern Ireland civil partnership was used by INIS on 12th January 2011 to grant Adriano permission to live and work in Ireland.


Immigration has always been an important issue for GLEN. Many Irish lesbian and gay people have partners who are from outside Ireland. If the partner is from another EU country, then under EU rules they can move without restriction to Ireland. However, if the partner was from outside the EU, the lack of recognition for their relationship in immigration laws and rules led to those couples being separated or having to leave Ireland to be together.

We have worked continuously on the issue and, starting in 2006, successive provisions now ensure that lesbian and gay couples are treated the same as opposite-sex couples in immigration. The Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) is the Government agency with responsibility for immigration policy and regulation. They state that "in summary, the immigration authorities will treat a civil partnership in the same way as marriage." The same principle also applies to de facto partners - same-sex de facto partners are treated the same as opposite-sex de facto partners in immigration provision.

The provisions in immigration are different depending on whether you are in a civil partnership (or foreign relationship recognised in Ireland as a civil partnership) or whether you are a de facto couple - i.e. you are in a relationship, but not a legal relationship. In most cases, if in a de facto relationship, you must provide evidence of being together for at least two years.

For further information, please see the Immigration section on this website or see the INIS website on immigration provisions here.



It is possible to become a citizen of Ireland through marriage. As a result of Civil Partnership legislation, this has been extended to include lesbian and gay couples in civil partnerships, who can now apply for their non-Irish partner to become a citizen of Ireland after three years of civil partnership, the same as married opposite-sex couples.

See the INIS website on Citizenship provisions here.


Recognition of Foreign Relationships

Many lesbian and gay couples get married or enter a civil partnership abroad. Most of these relationships are automatically recognised in Ireland and have the same rights and entitlements as apply in an Irish civil partnership, including in Immigration and Citizenship provisions.

Each year the Minister for Justice updates the list of foreign relationships recognised. A full up to date list is available on the Resources section of this website.


Refugee Protections

GLEN campaigned for the inclusion of sexual orientation in Refugee legislatoin and in 1996, Ireland became one of the first countries in the world to specifically include persecution on the grounds of sexual orientation in refugee legislation. For further information see the Office of the Refugee Applications Commission or the Irish Refugee Council


Justice for the Undocumented

GLEN is a supporter of the Migrant Rights Centre Ireland campaign to address the situation of undocumented migrants in Ireland, some of whom are LGBT people living here often for many years, fully rooted in communities and who have made Ireland their home. For further information, see here.