EU Citizenship for Northern Ireland born citizens

Emma DeSouza is an Irish citizen born in Northern Ireland who has never held a British passport. DeSouza obtained her first Irish passport in 2009 and identifies as exclusively Irish – not British.

The Good Friday Agreement birthright provisions allow the people of Northern Ireland to identify and be accepted as Irish or British or both.

In 2015 DeSouza married her US born husband in Belfast and applied to stablise his immigration status shortly thereafter.

DeSouza’s husband applied for an EEA residence card as the spouse of an EU national. The appropriate application for all EU citizens resident in the United Kingdom.

In 2016 the British Home Office refused the application on the grounds that his DeSouza “Is automatically British having been born in Northern Ireland”. The Home Office claims the automatic conferral of British citizenship is not in conflict with the Good Friday Agreement as DeSouza has the capacity in law to renounce British citizenship: “Your spouse is entitled to renounce her status as a British citizen and rely on her Irish citizenship, but until that status is renounced she is as a matter of fact a British citizen.”

The Home Office denied DeSouza’s EU right as an Irish citizen to family reunification.

The landmark citizenship case came to an end with a court verdict giving her victory after 5 years of struggle


Now All British and Irish citizens born in Northern Ireland will be be treated as EU citizens for immigration purposes, the government has announced after a landmark court case involving a Derry woman over the residency rights of her US-born husband.

The Home office made amendments in the immigration rules after this verdict.