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Northern Ireland-Born British & Irish Treated As EU Citizens

It has seemed in recent years that the UK Home Office has been unwilling to offer much in the way of concessions on immigration rights. However, in relation to Northern Ireland, two significant compromises have been made by the British Government in 2020 alone. Firstly there was the ‘olive branch’ contained within the New Decade New Approach in January. And secondly, there was a change of immigration policy following the lengthy case against the British Home Office brought by Northern Ireland national Emma DeSouza regarding the residency rights of her US-born husband, Jake.

New Decade New Approach - Improved Family Reunion Rights

‘The New Decade, New Approach Deal’, was drafted jointly by Rt Hon Julian Smith CBE MP, Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, and Simon Coveney TD, Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade. The ‘deal’ was intended to lay the basis for the restoration of the devolved Government in Northern Ireland and, of particular significance, offers an olive branch for family migration arrangements in the context of the Good Friday Agreement. The text states:

“The [UK] Government has reviewed the consistency of its family migration arrangements, taking into account the letter and spirit of the Belfast Agreement and recognising that the policy should not create incentives for renunciation of British citizenship by those citizens who may wish to retain it.

The Government will change the rules governing how the people of Northern Ireland bring their family members to the UK. This change will mean that eligible family members of the people of Northern Ireland will be able to apply for UK immigration status on broadly the same terms as the family members of Irish citizens in the UK.

This immigration status will be available to the family members of all the people of Northern Ireland, no matter whether they hold British or Irish citizenship or both, no matter how they identify”.

In practical terms, this move by the British Government means that many from Northern Ireland will be able to sponsor non-European family members under the EU Settlement Scheme. It does not, however, fully align with the intent of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement (also known as the Belfast Agreement), which states recognises the “birthright of all the people of Northern Ireland to identify themselves and be accepted as Irish or British, or both, as they may so choose, and accordingly confirm that their right to hold both British and Irish citizenship is accepted by both Governments and would not be affected by any future change in the status of Northern Ireland”, i.e. that people of Northern Ireland are not automatically British.

A battle for permanent residency in Northern Ireland

Emma DeSouza’s case started in 2015 following a refusal by the British Home Office to provide permanent residency to her husband. Core to this case is that Ms. DeSouza has been fighting to be recognised as Irish; a right conferred on her in the Good Friday Agreement. The Home Office had refused the application on the grounds that she is British and hence requested that she either reapply for permanent residency for her husband as a British citizen or renounce her British citizenship and then reapply as an Irish citizen. Ms. DeSouza challenged the refusal on the basis that she had never held a British passport and she was legally permitted to identify as Irish, British, or both.

In advance of the appeal hearing which was due in June 2020, a Statement of changes to the Immigration Rules was issued by the British Government in May 2020, confirming that those who are a ‘relevant person of Northern Ireland’ will now be included in the definition of an EEA citizen. This means that Ms. DeSouza’s husband can now apply under the EU Settlement Scheme, and hence will be able to legally remain in Northern Ireland. Furthermore, this now means that all people born in Northern Ireland, whether Irish or British, will be treated as EU citizens for purposes of UK immigration policy. In response to the decision, Ms. DeSouza expressed her considerable relief; “This is great news. To get a concession from the British Government and a change in the immigration law is no small feat. It is incredibly satisfying to be considered as EU citizens and will be a great help to all the other families in my situation”.

A mixed reaction to the decision by the Home Office

While the news was viewed as a positive step, it does have limitations. Firstly, the EU Settlement Scheme is finite and will close to applicants on 30th June 2021. Secondly, the decision still does not give full effect to the Good Friday Agreement. Ms. De Souza stated, “While this is satisfying, it has not given legal effect to the Good Friday Agreement right to be Irish. Ireland updated its immigration laws to bring them into line in 1998 but the British did not,” said de Souza. “It is still an uphill battle”.

In addition, Sinn Féin senator Niall Ó Donnghaile said of the decision, “many of us are concerned, however, with the time-limited nature of today’s announced changes – they only run until the end of the transition period – and more broadly with the British government’s continued failure to address our citizenship and identity rights by codifying the GFA provisions within their own domestic law”.

Final words

As confirmed by the Home Office, the new immigration rule changes mean that family members of British or dual British-Irish citizens from Northern Ireland can apply under the EU Settlement Scheme. The Home Office stated, “this delivers on the commitment the UK government made in the ‘New Decade, New Approach’ agreement in January 2020 which restored the power-sharing executive in Northern Ireland”. Applications under the new arrangement will commence on 24th August 2020, and will only be open to those living in the country at the end of the Brexit transition period (currently set for 31st December 2020). Given the number of recent changes of government policy in relation to Northern Ireland, it is highly recommended that anyone wishing to secure residency rights for family members in the country seek the guidance of our immigration Solicitors.

Some of our Happy Clients

Reiss Edwards Awards

ACQ5 Awards Award
Lexis Nexis
Three Best Rated
Department For International Development
University Of Cambridge
ACQ5 Awards Award
Lexis Nexis
Three Best Rated
Department For International Development
University Of Cambridge

O.L

Andy Tieu is absolutely amazing.

As a lawyer myself I can categorically say that he knows his stuff, gentle, responsive, cares about you and not just about the money, very professional.
I mean I can go on and on!

Andy and the entire team at Reiss Edwards are amazing!

Thanks again Andy.

Kiran Sardar


I found Joe very helpful and tremendous patience which is a must in this professional as there are lots of emotions always involved in each and every case.

The way they dealt with my case during COVID19 Situation is highly appreciable. I would definitely recommend Joe D. and Anna F. Anna is an amazing lady, her patience is beyond my words.

Her hard work and professionalism have no boundaries. She is the right person for all type of cases.

Thanks to Anna and Joe for all your support and guidance which helped me fulfill my dream.

I would say Reiss Edwards is lucky to have Joe D. and Anna F. Great job Reiss Edwards.

thanks once again. Anna you’re a Gem and a Star.

Cheyam Shaked

"Anna Foley was the lawyer helping my partner obtain an EEA EFM visa. She was outstanding. Handling the case with constant correspondence over a lengthy, lockdown delayed 7-month application process. Her expert advice guided us successfully through some difficult times as a result of COVID-19. Some of the best service I have received for any service ever! Often replying to emails late at night, offering to send additional correspondence to the home office and going above and beyond in handling our case! Well done and thank you Reiss Edwards and thank you Anna!!".

Isaac .T

"Professional service. I was very impressed with the fact that my ILR application was successful 6 weeks after the submission amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. I also think the portfolio put together by the team at Reiss Edwards has played a big part in the quick turnaround of my application".

Jesse Lee

"Reiss Edwards did a great job, and so much work, for their reasonable fixed fee. I would heartily recommend them to anyone looking to secure a Visa and /or Visa renewal. I will use them again when mine needs to renew. Great value".

Majlinda Berisha

"The help, the professionalism, the kindness from this team is phenomenal. A massive thank you to Anna Foley.

I have had a really tough time with getting my husband’s visa. My last immigration lawyer made many mistakes that caused stress, disappointments and sadness.

I was weary about getting another lawyer as I thought I was going to go through the same experience but no, it turned out better than what I had hoped or even imagined.

What I received was: constant emails and calls updating me and asking if anything else is needed. If I called and they missed my phone call I would get a call back within 10 minutes. All of my documents were carefully checked and I would get a reply the next day if anything was missing or not correct. There were times that I was impatient and asked to just send the visa off, but was reminded that everything had to be perfect and correct before submitting the application. I was told about every option I had and discussed what the best would be. I was always spoke in a nice, calm, polite manner.

The overall intelligence of this team, especially Anna Foley for me, is outstanding. I am speechless. Anna done such an amazing job on my husband’s application that although we couldn’t apply for the fast service and was told to wait for 12 weeks, we got a reply within 5 weeks.

That alone shows what an amazing and talented team Reiss Edwards are. Thank you".

Christine .C

"I wholeheartedly recommend Reiss Edwards to anyone who is in search of immigration advice. I had the pleasure of speaking with Amar who has been very thorough in finding a solution to my enquiry, and followed up with additional information even after the consultation. I normally don't leave reviews, and this firm already has enough good reviews for me to need to my own anyways! However, in this instance, I do hope that my review can let anyone who reads it be aware that RE is a great choice, these people care enough to help you the best they can".

Zohaib Butt

"I had the chance to use Reiss Edwards services for my Tier 2 extension. Marija dealt with my case and I found her very professional and experienced in dealing with my application. The care and attention to detail was exceptional. I would definitely recommend Reiss Edwards!".

Quintus Liu

"Knowledgeable, experienced, and relatable. Translated a complex process into steps that are easy to follow. Cruised to 3 successive wins on my Tier 1 graduate/entrepreneurship visa which allowed us to play our part in making the UK a better and healthier place!".

Khasan Vosijonov

"Thank you, Ms. Anna Foley! I am writing this with tears of joy.

As a family, we are all grateful to Anna Foley and her firm Reiss Edwards, for doing all the hard work and giving us the best support. Finally We found the best law firm".

Saira Lawson-Brown

"Highly professional organisation and really supportive solicitors. Ina Iteva the solicitor that was provided to us was a blessing in disguise, as our first solicitor was let go off due to pandemic. She was so supportive and understanding throughout the process, and my husband spouse visa was granted due to their effort and attention to detail. We constantly try to keep in touch with her and consider her as more of a friend now than a solicitor. Sure, to bother her and the firm more in the future".

Nora Nkechi

"My Tier 1 Investor Visa was dealt with quickly and without issue. Would recommend Reiss Edwards as an Immigration law firm in London. Thank you to the team".

Deepak Chartbhurjh

"This is the only firm that i spoke with that didn't ask for money before listening to me, will be using them again. I used Reiss Edwards for my Tier 2 visa application and it was successful. The team was ever present and happy to answer my question. The caseworker that dealing with my case went on holiday yet by case did not suffer one bit. Another lawyer stepped and took over the case without any hassle".

Hakeem Salam

"I used Reiss Edwards immigration lawyers to assist with my immigration matter and that of my family. It was an EX1 application. They dealt with the matter properly and even when complications were coming up from the Home Office, they helped resolve the issue properly. They are very professional and are very popular in London. I am happy to have worked with them".

Top Notch Immigration Service

"Reiss Edwards is a top notch immigration service company. The way they handled our documentation and also the list of documents they sent was efficient and top quality. They helped us professionally throughout the process. We are very happy with the immigration advice we received from the team. We highly recommend them".

Mo Hussein

"I have been using Reiss Edwards for three years now for my family's immigration application. Both for my initial application and extension. They are really affordable. The team of solicitors at this firm are probably one of the most efficient and economical in terms of cost. They offered free advice over the phone and spent good time with us before inviting us for consultation".

Gallagher Jones

"I contacted Reiss Edwards to help me with my wife's UK settlement visa. They acted with utmost professionalism throughout the entire application. I spoke with Joe Dinh, he is an immigration solicitor and he is one of the best solicitors out there. He ensured that there was little to no room for error. At some point I thought he was over cautious. He remained calmed and continued to assure us on our immigration matter. Most people in his position would have panicked but he was calmed and continued to assure us. We received out positive outcome very quickly".

Richard Stone

"I have just had British Citizenship application approved. Prior to making the application, I was not sure which law firm i should hire to facilitate the paperwork. After a few hours of research, i decided to go with Reiss Edwards and i must confess that I wasn't disappointed. The immigration lawyers at Reiss Edwards handled my case well and they really knew what they were doing. They were fully aware of what documents I needed and it was easy for them to tell if my case was going to be easy or not. At the end of the day, I have not received my British citizenship within 3 months. If anyone is looking for a good immigration lawyer to handle their case, contact Reiss Edwards".

Fong Li

"Investing over 2 million pounds is definitely not a routine decision. We had to make sure that the Tier 1 investor immigration lawyers that we'd be picking has to be one of the best within the Tier 1 investor category. We contacted Reiss Edwards and they were able to get us not only the Tier 1 investor visa but also suggested profitable investment portfolios in addition to what we already had in mind".

Nancy Jacquard

"It's a shame that you don't have an 'Excellent' star rating on here, as my experience with Reiss Edwards is nothing short of an excellent rating. They handled my application for an Indefinite Leave to remain in April 2014 and did my husband's one very recently including my daughter. Every time i have approached them, they have continued to treat me with courtesy, respect and patience. Amar was indeed a very thorough and professional gentleman. He is very knowledgeable, corporative and engaging. He responded to my emails, calls and enquiries promptly. He was always reassuring. I could not have asked for a better Immigration service. I would recommend them over and over again for anyone looking for an immigration advice. They gave me a free immigration advice when i called them, and the quality of the advice was something other charge thousands for. If you need a particular, name, Amar would be it. He exemplifies, for me, the true, professional gentleman. He is a valuable asset to Reiss Edwards".

Florence Giwa

"I am glad that i instructed Reiss Edwards on my visa matter. It started with a 20 minutes free immigration advice. I met with Amar to discuss my ILR refusal. He gave me a great deal of quality advice and decided to take on my messy case. I had doubts on the merits of my case by he was relatively convinced he could win it. That made me quite secure. To be honest, things did not start as quick as I would have wanted, but they kept on communicating the process and state of things to me.A big thank you to Verusha and Foram. They were also very helpful. Brilliant and informative. Their fee was fair and reasonable, especially if you compare them to other law firms and immigration law firms in London; some of whom even told me that i would not be able to get an indefinte leave to remain in this country. The process was long but was worth it. In the end, a big thank you to Reiss Edwards".

Salisu Ibrahim

"Fantastic Solicitors!!! My wife's spouse visa extension application was refused by the Home Office and they gave her 14 days to leave the country. We contacted Reiss Edwards and they said "OK don't worry we will sort this out". They put together the list of documents for me to obtain and they prepared a bundle which was as thick as the printer it came out from.We followed everything they asked us to do and in the end we won our appeal and got our spouse visa. We can't recommend them enough and we have promised ourselves never to make any more UK visa applications without them".

Amir Sandeep

"The team of lawyers at Reiss Edwards are very professional and friendly people. Their experience in and around UK immigration law is quite extensive; be sure that you application is in safe and competent hands. My immigration matter was an indefinite leave to remain application based on Tier 1 on a self-employment basis. The immigration lawyers at Reiss Edwards made sure that the application was perfect and ready to be accepted. I got a positive decision and I recommend them highly for anyone who needs a UK immigration help".

Reiss Edwards Reviews

O.L

"Andy Tieu is absolutely amazing, as a lawyer myself I can categorically say tha...

Read More

Kiran Sardar

"I found Joe very helpful and tremendous patience which is a must in this profes...

Read More

Cheyam Shaked

"Anna Foley was the lawyer helping my partner obtain an EEA EFM visa. She was ou...

Read More

Isaac .T

"Professional service. I was very impressed with the fact that my ILR applicatio...

Read More

Jesse Lee

"Reiss Edwards did a great job, and so much work, for their reasonable fixed fee...

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Majlinda Berisha

"The help, the professionalism, the kindness from this team is phenomenal. A mas...

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Christine .C

"I wholeheartedly recommend Reiss Edwards to anyone who is in search of immigrat...

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Zohaib Butt

"I had the chance to use Reiss Edwards services for my Tier 2 extension. Marija ...

Read More

Quintus Liu

"Knowledgeable, experienced, and relatable. Translated a complex process into st...

Read More

Khasan Vosijonov

"Thank you, Ms. Anna Foley! I am writing this with tears of joy. As a family, we...

Read More

Saira Lawson-Brown

"Highly professional organisation and really supportive solicitors. Ina Iteva th...

Read More

Nora Nkechi

"My Tier 1 Investor Visa was dealt with quickly and without issue. Would recomme...

Read More

Deepak Chartbhurjh

"This is the only firm that i spoke with that didn't ask for money before listen...

Read More

Hakeem Salam

"I used Reiss Edwards immigration lawyers to assist with my immigration matter a...

Read More

Top Notch Immigration Service

"Reiss Edwards is a top notch immigration service company. The way they handled ...

Read More

Mo Hussein

"I have been using Reiss Edwards for three years now for my family's immigration...

Read More

Gallagher Jones

"I contacted Reiss Edwards to help me with my wife's UK settlement visa. They ac...

Read More

Richard Stone

"I have just had British Citizenship application approved. Prior to making the a...

Read More

Fong Li

"Investing over 2 million pounds is defintely not a routine decision. We had to ...

Read More

Nancy Jacquard

"It's a shame that you don't have an 'Excellent' star rating on here, as my expe...

Read More

Florence Giwa

"I am glad that i instructed Reiss Edwards on my visa matter. It started with a ...

Read More

Salisu Ibrahim

"Fantastic Solicitors!!! My wife's spouse visa extension application was refused...

Read More

Amir Sandeep

"The team of lawyers at Reiss Edwards are very professional and friendly people....

Read More