This is an HTML version of an attachment to the Freedom of Information request 'Categorization of Irish citizens in the UK'.



 
 
 
 
 
Nationality Policy Team 
 
Operational Policy and Rules 
 
Unit 
Dept 85 
 
PO Box 306 
www.homeoffice.gov.uk 
Liverpool 
L2 0QN 
Mr John Kelly 
 
 
request-205887-
 
xxxxxxxx@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx.xxx 
 
 
11 April 2014 
 
 
 
 
 
Dear Mr Kelly 
 
Thank you for your request for information about British nationality law.  Your request has 
been treated as a routine enquiry, rather than under the Freedom of Information Act 2000, 
as it the sort of request that we regularly deal with as part of our normal business. 
 
You asked: 
 
1) How/if the UK government classifies Irish citizenship holders, i.e. does the UK 
government classify Irish citizens who were born in the Republic of Ireland differently from 
those who were born in Northern Ireland or in other parts of the world. The place of birth is 
noted in the Irish passport. 
 
2) If such a classification system does not exist, is it the opinion of the UK government that 
all Irish citizenship holders (provided they don't hold another citizenship) are all equal in all 
aspects of UK law? 
 
I am only able to answer this question in terms of immigration and citizenship.  If you wish 
to know how Irish nationals are treated more widely across government you would need to 
consult the relevant departments. 
 
As Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom, British citizenship can be obtained 
through birth there, or acquired by descent from someone born there.  British citizens are 
entitled to certain rights in UK law.  These include the right of abode in the United 
Kingdom, the right to vote and stand for office in local and general elections and the 
right/duty to perform jury service, eligibility for employment for some “reserved” posts in 
the civil service and HM, eligibility for United Kingdom passport facilities and consular 
assistance, and certain rights and duties under European Union law. 
 
 
 
 

Irish nationals who are not British citizens are treated differently in immigration and 
nationality law.  It is, however, possible for them to acquire British citizenship in certain 
cases. 
 
Certain people who were born in the Republic of Ireland before 1949 are able to opt for 
British subject status, which then entitles them to registration as a British citizen, based on 
a period of five years residence in the United Kingdom.  This is a provision which exists for 
those who already hold some form of British nationality, and the requirements are less 
stringent than those for naturalisation.   Irish nationals born after 1949 can only become 
British citizens through naturalisation.  This is based on a period of continuous residence 
in the United Kingdom, and there are requirements to have sufficient knowledge of English 
and of life in the United Kingdom, and to be of good character.  In this respect nationals of 
the Republic of Ireland are not treated any differently to other foreign nationals. 
 
In terms of immigration, the Republic of Ireland is a member state of the European 
Economic Area, and Irish nationals are entitled to exercise a right of free movement in the 
UK under Directive 2004/38/EC (the „free movement Directive‟) as a worker, self-employed 
person, self-sufficient person or student. However, Irish nationals are entitled to reside in 
the UK without engaging the Directive due to the historical relationship between the UK 
and Ireland. 
 
Under the Ireland Act 1949, the Republic of Ireland is not a foreign country for the purpose 
of any law in force in the United Kingdom. Under the United Kingdom Immigration Law, 
Irish nationals are treated as settled in the United Kingdom. Therefore, Irish nationals in 
the UK are considered to be “present and settled” for the purposes of the Immigration 
Rules, and may rely on this status to sponsor non-EEA family members under those 
Rules. 
 
Irish nationals may also choose to sponsor family members under the Immigration (European 
Economic Area) Regulations 2006 (as amended), which transpose the free movement Directive 
into UK law. However, an Irish national wishing to rely on the Regulations for this purpose would 
need to demonstrate that they are exercising free movement rights in one of the categories set 
out above, or that they have acquired a right of permanent residence under the Regulations. 
 
Further information can be found on the Gov.UK website: 
https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/uk-visas-and-immigration. 
 
I hope this is helpful for your research. 
 
Yours sincerely 
 
 
 
Jane Whitehead 
Operational Policy Team