Loyalty Card Programmes in Ireland

Just like in the UK, there are many savings programmes, clubcard schemes and other ways to collect and save money.  Obviously, if moving house, you may be able to change your address over (so try this first).  Alternatively, you may wish to register for a new account in your chosen country.

In Ireland I have came across a number of loyalty card programmes.  To which I’ll list some of them below:

Applying for an EEA Family Permit

Once you are ready to return to the UK, you would probally want to apply for an EEA Family Permit.  This application is a simple process, although the form itself asks for a lot of irrelevant information.

Before completing the application, make sure you can print out your application immediately, and if not immediately, make sure you have a PDF Document Writer (or equiv) so as you can print TWO COPIES of the form.

When you are ready to apply for your EEA Family Permit, head on over to the Visa4UK website (http://visa4uk.fco.gov.uk).

  1. At the time of writing this post, the FCO have launched a new Visa Application system (which appears to be “faulty” and is deleting your appointment – hence print it immediately).
  2. You will need an account, so click on “Register an Account”.
  3. Complete the form (the Applicant is the NON EU) and then agree to the terms, and click on “Register”.
  4. You’ll recieve an email to confirm your email address – So pop off to Yahoo, Hotmail, Gmail ETC to confirm your email address.
  5. Once confirmed, you should be able to login to your account. – Enter your email address and password.
  6. Once signed in, click on “Apply for Myself” on the top of the screen.
  7. The next page gives you warnings about use of false documents ETC.  Make sure you read and understand this information – then click on Continue.
  8. On the next page, you complete the details of the applicant (the Non-EU).
  9. The type of visa that you are applying for is on the following category:
    1. “Reason for Visit: Other”
    2. “Visa Type: EEA/Swiss Family Member”
    3. “Visa Sub Type: Family Member of an EEA National”
  10. Click on “Create Application”.
  11. You will then be able to complete the application form…

Obviously, you will need to complete the application with details relevant to your own situation, so only yourselves can answer the form.  A lot of the information is not required, but there is little you can do about completing it. (Otherwise you cannot submit the application online).

The only information you legally need to provide is:

  • Proof that you have worked as an employed or self employed person
  • Proof that you have resided together in the EEA state in which you work
  • Proof of ID (Passports)
  • and Proof of Relationship (Marriage Certificate)

Once you have completed the application form, you can submit it (note: it takes a while to complete.

You can then book an appointment on the system.  It is important that your book the appointment and print off the confirmation letter immediately – Make sure you print two copies – One for them, and one for yourself.

Payment is not required for an EEA Family Permit – as per the directive.  However, they charge a fee for a courier service of your documents back to yourselves.  We chose to collect our documents.  This meant that there was no payment required for the visa.

Heres the kicker though: You can only collect your document between 9:00am and 9:30am (which to me, screams a breach of the directive – as this is not giving EVERY OPPORTUNITY POSSIBLE to obtain the visa [Article 5])

 

What Documents Do You Supply

Below is just a sample of possible documents. Obviously, your own documents might well be different.

Proof that you have worked in a member state

Employed Persons

  • Work Contracts
  • Pay Slips
  • Letters from Employers
  • any other work related documents (IE: P45’s if change of job ETC)

Self Employed Persons

  • Tax Registration Letter
  • Business name registration certificate
  • Copy of business website etc
  • Copy of invoices issued to customers
  • Copy of reciepts for products purchased (costs)
  • Copy of other business accounting….
  • Business bank statements
  • Google Listings (Google Places, Google Plus)
  • Facebook Listings ETC
  • Copy of advertisements (IE: Paper, local church, shops, flyers ETC)

Proof of ID

You must supply the passport of the non-EU national. You should also be prepared to present the EU nationals passport – but at the very least supply a copy!

Proof of Residing together

  • Letter from Landlord
  • Tenancy Agreements
  • Letter from PRTB if applicable (IE: it is not required for a lodger to be registered with the PRTB if the landlord lives in the same household.)
  • Bank statements
  • Any other letters which have name and address on (IE: Driving License)

Proof of Relationship

  • This is usually a marriage certificate
  • Birth Certificates of any kids if you have any together

Other documents…

  • A letter from the EU national confirming that you will travel to the UK together.  This letter should outine the main points that you have worked, and lived together in whichever member state you have resided in.  It should also outline that you are applying under the case of Surinder Singh.
  • Residence Cards / Permits from the host member state
  • PPS Cards
  • EHIC Cards issued by member state
  • Letters confirming that you are registered at the local doctors
  • Letters from the kid’s schools / preschools / child minders

 

CREATE THREE BUNDLES: AND KEEP COPIES OF EVERYTHING!

It is important to make three bundles of your documents. These bundles are as follows:

  1. Original Documents [ Take to embassy – they should retain marriage certificate and non-EU passport ]
  2. Copy of Documents [ Take to embassy – they keep, but verify against originals (so keep the bundles in order) ]
  3. Copy of Documents [ You keep this copy, incase they loose anything / retain both sets you take to the embassy ]

How Long Does My Application Take To Process?

Well… This varies on your application. You can check on the UKBA Visa Processing times in Dublin, Ireland.

Which Mobile Network Should I Use in Ireland?

samsung galaxy ace mobile phone wifi routerIreland has a number of Mobile Telephone Providers: Three, o2, Meteor, Vodafone, Tesco (using the o2 network like in the UK).

I have found that Three offer the best deal for mobile usage.

It has two free offer plans on its PAYG sim cards:

  • Topup €10: Get 200MB free internet, 50 free texts, 50 minutes, and free 3 to 3 calling
  • Topup €20: Get a score and a half.

Included in the €20 deal you get the following:

  • Unlimited Internet
  • Unlimited Texts
  • Free ‘Unlimited’ Any Network Weekend Minutes
  • Free 3000 Three to Three calls
  • Free 3000 Skype Minutes (not sure how this works though, since you get free unlimited data).

You also KEEP THE €20 credit to use for calling. Let me outline how cost effective this deal is: In the UK I was paying £25/month to Sky for my Telephone and Internet (ADSL).  This means that my Internet bill in Ireland is cheaper, and we even get to use it as a mobile surfing.

You get Unlimited Internet (we use it for everything, using well over 30GB of transfer a month) via a WiFi hotspot on a Samsung Galaxy Ace mobile phone (available in many mobiles – even iPhones)

  • YouTube
  • BBC iPlayer
  • Skype
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Googling and general surfing. It sorts us out no problem.

I use two: One for my mobile (and business line) phone, and one for the internet at home (because we need to leave one on the Window Ledge upstairs to get a decent signal).  The Samsung Galaxy Ace mobile then makes a perfect WiFi router.  We sometimes have to restart the mobile (with all devices they go haywire occassionally), but it works wonders – even with six or seven devices connected to it.

So, i’m sure your going to ask: thats OK, but what are the connection speeds like?  Here’s a quick speedtest for you to look over.

Thee Mobile Internet Speed Test Download and Upload Connection Speeds
Thee Mobile Internet Speed Test Download and Upload Connection Speeds

Shockingly (whilst not quite up to fibre speeds) this is still better than I was getting in Tiddington via Sky ADSL.  The connection speeds are actually better still in Dublin City.

To add onto this fantastic offer.  Three also offer roaming in the UK and Ireland for its customers. [See: Three Like Home] – I do get a text message every time we drive up to Newry telling us about roaming charges.  I therefore remove my Sim Card and don’t use it (I don’t want to risk my credit).

Risking my credit also brings me onto my next point: Make sure you topup on time.  I mixed my dates up.  I thought my topup date was 27th December and it was actually 22nd.  I used over €20 of credit in less than 30 minutes!  It’s worth noting that your 3000 minutes of three to three calls also expires 7 days after your internet bundle.  So go by the topup date, and remember to topup the €20 the day before its due!

You can also get Sim Cards for PAYG mobiles from Tesco for €0.99 (and sometimes they offer a voucher for a FREE Sim – with no topup) should you just need a contact number.

Tap Water In Ireland – Quality, Price, Safe to Drink?

Picture of a Running Tap in Ireland for Water Quality, Price and SafetyThere are a few points about the quality of the tap water in Ireland. The first thing I’ll say is that it is somewhat of an aquired taste.

How Much is the Water Bill in Ireland?

Unlike the UK, there is presently no charge for the supply of water in Ireland. This will soon change (Quater 1 of 2015).

The Irish Water Board (http://water.ie/) began it’s water meter installation programme in August 2015. It is expected that the majority of households will have a water meter installed by 2016.

For more information about water bills in Ireland please visit: Irish Water Billing Information.

Is the water in Ireland safe to drink?

The water in Ireland is safe to drink. Although, it doesn’t taste all too pleasant when compared to other water supplies.

What about Irelands Water Quality?

Ireland Water Kettle Needs DescalingThis is the big kick for the water in Ireland. The water is pretty much full of a lot chlorine, limescale and other little irritants that affect the taste and quality of the water.

Infact, take a look at the state of this kettle after just a couple of weeks… So worthwhile bringing some Citric Acid to keep that kettle nice and clean (which will help you enjoy a nice fresh cuppa coffee and tea).

Water Filters

We purchased a Brita Water Filter jug (about €30) which gets rid of / filters out most of the “Sandy Residue” from the water. You can immediately taste the difference in the water, and is well worth the investment. The jug would of been far cheaper in the UK, but needs must.  Using the Brita Water filter jug also helps reduce the amount of limescale in the kettle (the kettle is nowhere near as bad as above since we’ve started filtering the water kettle) – although laziness does lead to just boiling water straight from the tap (and believe me: you can taste the difference in your tea/coffee).

Brita Water Filter cartiridges are about €7.50 each in Tesco Ireland, but you can buy them in the UK for cheaper (Shopping Trip to Newry guys?), and obviously buying in “Bulk” makes them cheaper (we bought 3 for €15 in Tesco, so essentially one free).

Different areas have different water quality, just like in the UK. The water in Dublin was no where near as bad as in Co. Meath – But we are right by the sea, so this might have some effect (who knows).

You can also get alternative water filters, but the replacement water filter cartridges do not really get any cheaper with own brand jugs ETC, and personally I find Brita a better water filter.

Registering for Revenue Online Services (ROS.IE) in Ireland

The Revenue Online Services requires you to complete a three step registration process.  Two of these steps involve them posting a letter to you at your registered taxation address (so remember to update your address if you move home).

Step 1 – Apply for your ROS Access Number

Go to the Revenue.IE website and click on “Register for Online Services

You then click on “Step 1- Apply for your RAN” (RAN = Revenue Access Number)

For Self Employed persons, you are completing Part A of the form.  You are Registering for Income Tax (Tax Type) and the ID No. is your PPS Number.  Once you have completed this, click on “Submit”.

You will then be presented with another form to enter your name, and telephone number.  Before clicking submit.

It is then a matter of waiting a week or two for them to post out your RAN (Revenue Online Services Access Number).

Step 2 – Apply for your Digital Certificate.

As instructed in the letter the Revenue team post you, you then need to go back to the website mentioned above: Register for Online Services.

Click onto the “Apply for Digital Certificate” button.

This will present you with a screen to enter your ROS Access Number (Mailed to you in Step 1).  You will also be required to enter your Tax Registration Number (PPSN) and your correspondance email address.

Before you can move onto step 3, Revenue will post you another letter, so as you can access your Digital Certificate.

Step 3 – Retrieving Digital Certificate

You can follow the instruction on the letter posted to you.  You will then be able to log into ROS.

Advocate Generals Opinion – Case S (C‑457/12) and O (C‑456/12)

On the 12th December 2013 in the case of S (Case C‑457/12) and O (Case C‑456/12) Advocate General Sharpston delivered an outstanding opinion to the ECJ.

Now this is just an opinion, and is not legally binding.  It is, however, persuasive in a court of law (as outlined by the Home Office in Chapter 9 – ECI Appeals.

1.2 Opinions of the Advocate General

Although the Advocate General’s opinion in a particular case is not binding on the ECJ, it is often followed. The opinion can be submitted to the AIT as persuasive, but not binding, authority until it is superseded by the relevant ECJ judgment. i.e. A Presenting Officer may refer to an Opinion of the Advocate General in submissions and ask the Immigration Judge to note its comments but it must be clear that it is not relied upon as a legal ruling.

The full opinion can be found here: Case of S and O: Advocate General

The actual responses that are suggested are as follows:

Conclusion

159. In the light of the foregoing considerations, I am of the opinion that the Court should answer the questions raised by the Raad van State to the following effect:

In Case C‑456/12 O:

(1)      Directive 2004/38/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 29 April 2004 on the right of citizens of the Union and their family members to move and reside freely within the territory of the Member States does not apply directly to EU citizens returning to their Member State of nationality. However, the Member State of nationality may not give such EU citizens less favourable treatment than that owed to them as a matter of EU law in the Member State from which they moved to their Member State of nationality. As a result, Directive 2004/38 indirectly sets out the minimum standard of treatment that a returning EU citizen and his family members must enjoy in the EU citizen’s Member State of nationality.

(2)      EU law does not require an EU citizen to have resided for any minimum period of time in another Member State in order for his third country national family members to claim a derived right of residence in the Member State of nationality to which the EU citizen then returns.

(3)      An EU citizen exercises his right of residence in another Member State if he makes that Member State the place where the habitual centre of his interests lies. Provided that, when all relevant facts are taken into account, that test is satisfied, it is irrelevant in this context whether that EU citizen keeps another form of residence elsewhere or whether his physical presence in the Member State of residence is regularly or irregularly interrupted.

(4)      Where time elapses between the return of the EU citizen to the Member State of which he is a national and the arrival of the third country national family member in that Member State, the family member’s entitlement to a derived right of residence in that Member State does not lapse provided that the decision to join the EU citizen is taken in the exercise of their right to a family life.

In Case C‑457/12 S:

Where an EU citizen residing in his Member State of nationality exercises rights of free movement in connection with his employment, the right of his third country national family members to reside in that State depends on the closeness of their family connection with the EU citizen and on the causal connection between the family’s place of residence and the EU citizen’s exercise of rights of free movement. In particular, the family member must enjoy a right of residence if denying that right would cause the EU citizen to seek alternative employment that would not involve the exercise of rights of free movement or would cause him to move to another Member State. It is irrelevant in that regard whether the EU citizen is a frontier worker or exercises his right of free movement in order to fulfil his contract of employment concluded with an employer based in his Member State of nationality and residence.

 

It’s an excellent read – well worth going through in great detail. 🙂

The UK Changes The Rules on Surinder Singh

On 3 December 2013, the UK government adopted the Immigration (European Economic Area) (Amendment) (No. 2) Regulations 2013 (SI No 3032) which amend Regulation 9 of the Immigration (EEA) Regulations. The new rules take effect on 1 January 2014.

From that date, it will now be a new requirement for those using the Surinder Singh route that the “the centre of [the British citizen]’s life has transferred to the EEA State where [the British citizen] resided as a worker or self-employed person.”

You can view more of A. Valcke’s post here: EU Rights Clinic: Surinder Singh Rules Changed.

I think that the post above sums up fantastically what the requirements should mean. Many of the new possible requirements already being completed. Here are some simple tips (and that is obviously all they are) to keep you on the right side…

  • Don’t leave kids behind, and make sure you sort out their education in the host member state
  • Transfer your car over to the new host member state, as well as your driving license.
  • Replace your EHIC with the local EHIC.
  • Don’t keep a rented accomodation in the UK, unless of course its necessary.
  • REMEMBER TO FOLLOW ALL RESIDENCE REQUIREMENTS OF THE HOST STATE.

It’s very wise to remember the case of Mrs Carpenter Case C-60/00. Her British Spouse (Mr Carpenter) never actually lived in an EU state, but still his simple provision of services to the EU was sufficient to bestow upon Mrs Carpenter a right of residence from the EU treaties.

It is also highlighted by the Home Office in their Freedom of Information response regarding the Effect of Case C-60/00 (Carpenter) on an EEA2 application to myself the following:

The Carpenter case simply highlights the fact that Member States cannot take action against the family members of EU nationals which would breach their rights under Article 8 of the ECHR. While the context of the case related to the exercise of the freedom to provide services, the determining factor in the case was the disproportionate effect of the proposed deportation of Mr Carpenter‟s wife.

Early Childhood Care and Education Scheme (ECCE) in Ireland (Pre-School Education)

In Ireland, children of pre-school age (3yrs 2mths to 4yrs 7mths) can benefit from the Early Childhood Care and Education Scheme (ECCE) in Ireland.

View more information on the above link. A quick overview:

Information

The Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) Scheme provides a free year of early childhood care and education for children of pre-school age. In general, children are eligible for the ECCE scheme if they are aged over 3 years 2 months and less than 4 years 7 months on 1 September of the year that they will be starting. The upper age limit can be extended in some cases – see ‘Rules’ below.

The State pays a capitation fee to participating playschools and daycare services. In return, they provide a pre-school service free of charge to all children within the qualifying age range for a set number of hours over a set period of weeks (see ‘How the ECCE scheme is provided’ below).

In general, children only qualify for ECCE in one school year. However, a child who has been assessed as having a disability may be able to spread their free pre-school year over 2 years – see ‘Children with special needs’ below.