Say the non EU spouse of an EU citizen is due to get their Stamp 4/Card in a couple of weeks, enabling them to work in an EU country.

While they are waiting for the date to get the stamp, can they go for a job interview to enable them to get a job as soon as they get the card?

Is looking for a job during that period illegal?

  • 1
    Can you add a country tag or explain a little more what "Stamp 4" is? I have never heard of it, but maybe it's just a local thing and called differently in my country? For example, in my country, the document that you get is the important part that allows you to do stuff, while the plastic card weeks later is just the formality for all practical purposes. But I guess that's country specific. – nvoigt Aug 16 at 11:00
  • @nvoigt it's Ireland. User26478: Stamp 4 will not likely be accepted in other EU countries as proving a right to work. – phoog Aug 16 at 11:26
  • Please remember that the employer must check if you have the right to work, otherwise face a big fine. Proving that properly will highten your chances of getting employment. – Mark Johnson Sep 15 at 13:40

I don't know the specifics of Irish law, but the free movement directive (2004/38/EC) establishes with articles 10 and 23 that the right to take up employment should be independent of any document:

Article 23

Related Rights

Irrespective of nationality, the family members of a Union citizen who have the right of residence or the right of permanent residence in a Member State shall be entitled to take up employment or self-employment there.

Irish law should therefore provide that you have the right to work in Ireland as soon as you arrive there with your spouse (or join your spouse there).

Article 10

Issue of residence cards

1. The right of residence of family members of a Union citizen who are not nationals of a Member State shall be evidenced by the issuing of a document called ‘Residence card of a family member of a Union citizen’ no later than six months from the date on which they submit the application. A certificate of application for the residence card shall be issued immediately.

The card is evidence of the right to reside (and, under Art. 23, to work). The card is not the source of that right. (This is why it's called a "card" rather than a "permit.") Rather, the source of the right is found in Chapter III, which is perhaps to lengthy to quote here, but it's worth noting that the right of residence for up to three months (Art. 6) exists even without any obligation to obtain a residence card.

From a practical point of view, it may be difficult to find formal employment without the card for administrative reasons, but if you were to do work, for example informally, that should be lawful. This of course implies that you are legally permitted to look for work before you receive the card.


Even a plain U.K. visitor visa allows you to look for work, even to sign an employment contract. That’s fine. What it does absolutely NOT allow you to do is to WORK.

So you are fine, as long as you don’t actually work.

  • Stamp 4 is Ireland, not the UK. The family member of an EU citizen has a right to work independent of any document, so actually working is in fact supposed to be lawful, thought the directive permits countries to impose a "proportional" and "non discriminatory" penalty for failing to register. As a practical administrative matter, however, it may not be possible to prove the right to work before obtaining the document. – phoog Aug 16 at 11:24
  • Furthermore, the penalty for failing to register is not a penalty for working without registration, and since the asker of this question is awaiting stamp 4, he or she has already registered and should not be subject to any penalty whatsoever. – phoog Aug 16 at 12:49
  • in Germany it is illegal if you don't have the proof that you have the right to work or don't have the needed work search visa. – Mark Johnson Sep 15 at 13:46

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