Returning to the Emerald Isle
Over recent weeks I have received several separate inquiries from older people who are in the deep in the process of planning to return to live in Ireland. All of those that I spoke with had been living her in the United States for many years but for various reasons had decided that they wanted to go back home permanently. Despite the increasing ease with which we can get to and from Ireland for visits and vacations it is still no small task to uproot oneself from a place they you have called home for several decades. I have only been in the US for five years and the idea of returning home to live would be a daunting one. You might also imagine that moving back home to a country that you are familiar with would mean an easy transition, but even in this instance there are many consideration that must be taken into account.
Given the host of inquiries that I have received recently about returning home I began to wonder if there weren’t more folks out there who were also contemplating moving back to the Emerald Isle and may find it helpful to know more about some of the factors involved in such a move. Over the course of the summer I will take the opportunity to address some of the more important issues that may come into play when returning home.
Habitual residency is a condition that may cause complications for those who wish to avail of certain social security provisions including a State (non-contributory) Pension, Supplementary Welfare Allowance, and Disability Allowance. The term "habitually resident" is not defined in Irish law. In practice it means that you have a proven close link to Ireland. The term also conveys permanence - that a person has been here for some time and intends to stay here for the foreseeable future. Proving you are habitually resident relies heavily on fact. If you have lived in Ireland all your life, you will probably have no difficulty showing that you satisfy the factors which indicate habitual residence. There are five criteria used to assess habitual residency.
However it is important for returning emigrants to know that there are provisions made for them that should prevent the habitual residency condition for presenting an issue. The guideline around Habitual residency state “A person who had previously been habitually resident in the State and who moved to live and work in another country and then resumes his/her long-term residence in the State may be regarded as being habitually resident immediately on his/her return to the State.” Any returning immigrants who encounter problems accessing benefits on the grounds of the habitual residency condition should know that their entitlement to participate in social welfare programs is protected by this provision.
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