The International Cricket Council have received notification of Ireland's intention to apply for full member status.
Ireland, currently an ICC associate member but with one-day international status, are pushing to join the game's elite group of 10 countries in the hope of playing Test cricket.
Ireland have made considerable progress on and off the field in recent years - the highlight being qualification for the last eight of the 2007 World Cup - but with success has come frustration.
The country is now regularly producing players good enough for first-class cricket but for them to have any ambitions of playing at Test level they must opt to play elsewhere.
Ed Joyce and Eoin Morgan have both earned England recognition after defecting and Cricket Ireland are anxious to avoid losing more talent in the future.
ICC spokesman James Fitzgerald said: "We have received a letter from Cricket Ireland expressing their intention to apply for full membership.
"In the event of them doing that the matter will be discussed at the next board meeting."
The ICC's next board meeting is in February but any final decision would have to be made by the general council at annual conference and the process is a long one.
Bangladesh were the last country to be elevated in 2000 three years after first submitting their application while a Kenyan bid failed after four years.
Cricket Ireland, who recently turned down a place in England's domestic 40-over competition in 2010, must also satisfy a number of stringent criteria to qualify for full membership. Should they press on for Test status, they would need to establish their own domestic first-class competition.