REGULARISATION OF LONG TERM UNDOCUMENTED MIGRANT SCHEME PUBLISHED

The Minister for Justice has published the details of the new scheme which will open on Monday 31st January 2022, enabling undocumented migrants to apply to regularise their immigration status in the State.

The scheme will be open for applications from 31st January 2022 until 31st July 2022, a period of six months.

The qualifying criteria has now been published on the Irish Immigration website which distinguishes between four types of applications which can be made under the scheme. It is worthy to note that Applicants are to meet the qualifying criteria by the 31st January 2022, the date that the scheme opens and not during the six month period.

The four types of applications which can be made, and the period of residency required are set out as follows:

1) Single Application

In order to qualify for the scheme as a single applicant, you are required to be over the age of 18 and have been living in the State undocumented continuously for the last four years.

2) Family Application (Couple)

The principal applicant who is applying for themselves and their spouse/civil partner/de facto pattern must have resided in the State undocumented continuously for the last four years whilst the spouse/partner must have resided in the State undocumented continuously for the last two years.

3) Family Application with at least one dependent minor child

The principal applicant must have resided in the State undocumented continuously for the last three years.

The spouse/partner and any dependent children between the ages of 18 -23 must have resided in the State undocumented continuously for the last two years whilst living with the principal applicant for the last two years and continue to live as a family unit at the time of application.

Dependent children under the age of 18 must have been residing in the State with the principal applicant immediately prior to the publication of the scheme on 13th January 2022.

4) Family Application with at least one dependent adult child

The principal applicant must have resided in the State undocumented continuously for the last four years.

The spouse/partner and any dependent adult child between the ages of 18 -13 must have resided in the State undocumented continuously for the last two years whilst living with the principal applicant for the last two years and continue to live as a family unit at the time of application.

Other children over the age of 23 or are themselves married/ in a partnership must make an application in their own right, even if still residing with the principal applicant in the same family unit.

Where a child is over the age of 23 and living with a disability or is unable to live alone, applicants should contact [email protected] prior to submitting an application.

Persons who currently hold immigration status or who having a pending IPO application are ineligible for the scheme and cannot apply.

Applications fees apply and details of same can be found in the below links. Those who wish to apply may now view the detailed guidance and the list of documents required to make an application.  The specific questions/application form does not yet appear to be available.

 

Berkeley Solicitors greatly welcomes the publishment of the new scheme which will provide the opportunity to thousands of people across Ireland to regularise their immigration status in Ireland.

If you or a family member have queries about the process for applying under the new scheme, please do not hesitate to contact our office.

Further details of the full scheme can be found at the following links:

https://www.irishimmigration.ie/regularisation-of-long-term-undocumented-migrant-scheme/

https://www.irishimmigration.ie/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/Undocumented-Policy-Scheme-January-2022.pdf

 

NEW SCORECARD APPROACH INTRODUCED FOR CITIZENSHIP APPLICATIONS FROM JANUARY 2022

On the 31st December 2021, the Department of Justice announced that it would be introducing a scorecard approach for supporting documents that are required for citizenship applications, to prove required residency and establish identity.

The scorecard approach, which is applicable from the 1st of January 2022, is intended to clarify the information that applicants are intended to provide to establish their identity and required residency when applying for Irish citizenship.

Previously, applicants were required to provide a certain number of proofs of residency for each year of the period of residence claimed on their application form. Under the new approach, applicants will now need to reach a score of 150 points in each of the years proof of residency is required. A certain proof of residency will have a definite point value that has been predetermined by the Department.

Furthermore, an applicant will be need to provide sufficient documentation to accumulate 150 points to establish their identity. In the circumstances where an applicant is not able to meet the 150 points standard, the Department has indicated that the applicant will need to engage with the Citizenship Division to provide reasons as to why this is the case.

In the announcement, the Department highlighted the importance that proofs of identity and residence hold for a citizenship application, and confirmed that insufficient documentation can lead to an application being deemed ineligible.

An applicant is no longer required to submit their original passport with their citizenship application; however, the Minister reserves the right to request original passports from an applicant at any stage in the process.

The full announcement can be read here.

If you or a family member have queries about your naturalization application, please do not hesitate to contact our office.

BERKELEY SOLICITORS CHRISTMAS 2021

Berkeley Solicitors would like to wish all of our clients and their families a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Our office will close for the Christmas period on Wednesday the 22nd December 2021 and reopen on Tuesday the 4th January 2022.

If you have any immigration queries don’t hesitate to contact us and we will respond when we reopen on the 4th January.

RECENT IMMIGATION UPDATES

Important information for residents of  South Africa, Botswana, Eswatini and Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia

In a notice published on the 22nd December 2021 on the webpage of the Embassy of Ireland, South Africa  it is stated that With effect from 00.01 on Wednesday, 22nd December 2021, nationals of Botswana, Eswatini Lesotho and South Africa are no longer entry visa required and nationals of Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia and South Africa are no longer transit visa required.

https://www.dfa.ie/irish-embassy/south-africa/

There is no such notice on the Home Page of the Immigration Service Delivery, however the list of visa and non-visa required nationals has been updated to reflect this change.

http://www.irishimmigration.ie/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/Immigration-Service-Delivery-Visa-and-Non-Visa-Required-Countries.pdf

 

Deadline to Apply for Withdrawal Agreement Beneficiaries Card extended:

The Minister has extended the deadline to apply for a Withdrawal Agreement Beneficiaries from 31st December 2020 to the 30th June 2022. It is important that any Non-EEA family member of a British citizen who is currently resident in the State on foot of an EU Fam residence card applies to exchange their residence card for a  Withdrawal Agreement Beneficiaries without delay. It is also open to British citizens themselves to apply for this recognition as well.

The full notice can be found below:

https://www.irishimmigration.ie/extension-of-date-for-non-eea-family-members-of-uk-nationals-residing-in-ireland-before-the-end-of-the-transition-period-on-31-december-2020-to-apply-for-a-residence-document-under-the-withdrawal-agre/

MINISTER FOR JUSTICE ANNOUNCES FURTHER EXTENSION OF IMMIGRATION PERMISSIONS TO 31ST MAY 2022

On the 17th December 2021, Minister for Justice, Helen McEntee announced a further extension of international protection and immigration permissions. The extension has been set to 31st May 2022. Therefore, any person in the State who’s immigration permission was due to expire between 15th January 2022 and 31st May 2022 will automatically have permission to reside in the State up to 31st May 2022. This temporary permission extension also covers persons who have had their permission extended by any of the previous eight temporary extensions since March 2020.

 

Every person that qualifies for this temporary permission extension should either register or renew their permission before 31st May 2022, in order to confirm that they continue to have valid permission to reside in the State after this date.

 

In its statement announcing the new extension, the Department of Justice assured that anyone who is entitled to a new IRP card may travel during the Christmas period up to 15th January 2022, using their current expired IRP card. However, adults who plan to travel after 15th January 2022 that have not yet received their new IRP card must secure a re-entry visa in Ireland before travelling or in an overseas visa office before returning. Minors travelling with legally resident parent/s or guardian/s will not need a re-entry visa, per the current  suspension on this requirement that will be extended to 31st May 2022.

 

The Burgh Quay registration office in Dublin is open for appointments and those based in Dublin can renew their permission online at https://inisonline.jahs.ie. Renewals for persons located outside of Dublin are processed by the Garda National Immigration Bureau.

 

The Department has announced that they will be launching a new Freephone telephone booking system in January to assist with the high demand for first time registration appointments.

 

The full statement announcing the permission extension can be found on the Department of Justice’s website here.

AFGHAN ADMISSION PROGRAMME TO BEGIN ACCEPTING APPLICATIONS FROM 16TH DECEMBER 2021

On the 14th December 2021, Minister McEntee confirmed that the Afghan Admission Programme will open for applications this Thursday, 16 December 2021.

The scheme provides a pathway for Afghan nationals who were legally resident in Ireland before 1st September 2021 to apply for a visa for up to four family members who are in Afghanistan, or one of five neighbouring countries: Iran, Pakistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. The Applicant will be responsible for providing their family members with accommodation in Ireland.

Applications will be accepted for an 8-week period, up to 10th February 2022, at which point no more applications will be accepted. There are reported to be 500 places available.

Although the scheme has undoubtedly been welcomed by many, some have voiced concern that the 500 places quoted to be available is too few, and that the Minister should be flexible with the criteria of only four family members per sponsor.

In a statement by the Department of Justice that confirmed that the scheme will open tomorrow, 16th December 2021, Minister McEntee stated;

 

In processing applications, we will be prioritising those who are especially vulnerable and whose freedom and safety is most at risk, like older people, children, single female parents, single women and girls and people with disabilities. We will also give priority to people whose previous employment exposes them to greater risk, for example UN and EU employees and people who worked for civil society organisations.

 

The application form and additional guidelines for completing an application will be available on the Department’s Irish immigration website (www.irishimmigration.ie) from today, 16th December 2021.

The full statement from the Department of Justice can be read here.

HIGH COURT JUDGEMENT OVERTURNING VISA REFUSAL TO HUSBAND AND FATHER OF IRISH CITIZENS

Berkeley Solicitors would like to congratulate our clients who were successful in their Judicial Review proceedings today.

The Applicant family have been successful in their challenge to the Minster for Justice’s refusal of a join family visa application for the father and spouse of Irish citizens.

The visa application was submitted on the basis of the family and private life rights arising from both his  marriage to an Irish citizen  and those arising from his  relationship  with his Irish citizen children.

The visa  application was initially submitted in 2017 and on appeal was refused by the Minister in 2019. The visa appeal was refused for a number of reasons with a focus on financial grounds.

The Minister concluded it was likely that the Applicant would become a burden on the Irish State if a visa was granted to him to join his family. This finding was made despite comprehensive evidence of the Applicant’s long career history and high level of qualifications, along a strong commitment from him of his desire to work in the State. Furthermore, financial support from his brother in law, a doctor in the State was also put forward. The Minister concluded that the family could maintain their family life via visits and Skype calls and that there was no disproportionate interference with the Constitutional rights of the Applicant family in the refusal of the join family visa to the Applicant.

On behalf of our clients’ Berkeley Solicitors challenged this decision by way of High Court Judicial Review proceedings.

The proceedings ultimately focused primarily on the rights arising from marriage, as the Applicant’s children had reached the age of 18 and over by the time these proceedings where heard.

In a Judgement delivered by Ms Justice Burns today, the Applicants were successful and the High Court ordered the cancellation of the visa appeal refusal.

We understand this  judgement to be the first judgement to comprehensively address the findings of the very important  Supreme Court  judgement in Gorry. Ms Justice Burns helpfully reviews the Applicants’ position as a married couple in line with the guidance provided by the Supreme Court in Gorry.

Ms Justice Burns found that the Minister had failed to give due respect to the institution of marriage in the refusal of the Applicant’s visa to join his wife and children.

Ms Jusice Burns held in her judgement:

 

The ultimate test for this Court is whether the Respondent failed to recognise the relationship between the Applicants, or to respect the institution of marriage because of its treatment of the couple concerned.  

 

In the course of her deliberations, the Respondent had regard to the fact that the Second Applicant was a citizen of Ireland; that she had a right to reside in Ireland; that she had a right to marry and develop a family life; and that cohabitation was a natural incident of marriage and the family.  However, the Respondent appears to have failed to have had regard to the fact that not permitting the First Applicant to enter this jurisdiction had a significance for the couple and the development of their family life. 

 

It is the case that the Respondent was considering an application which related to the Applicants’ children’s rights, which was interconnected with marital rights and perhaps for this reason focus was lost on the marital rights of the Second Applicant.  However, the Court is of the view that the Respondent failed to recognise the marital relationship between the Applicants and to pay due respect to the institution of marriage.

 

While important State interests were identified by the Respondent, an intensive consideration of the underlying facts and evidence was not conducted by the Respondent.    

 

In the particular circumstances of this case, the Respondent failed to identify a properly justified countervailing interest that outweighed the importance of the Applicants’ status as a married couple, one of whom is an Irish citizen, and ultimately failed to give due respect to the institution of marriage and the Applicants’ marital rights under the Constitution.

 

This is fantastic news for our clients who have waited such long time to have this matter resolved and we wish to congratulate them on this positive news today. Our office also wishes to thank and congratulate Applicant’s counsel for their  tireless work and commitment to the case.

UPDATED VISA REQUIREMENTS FOR PERSONS TRAVELLING FROM DESIGNATED COUNTRIES

We refer to our previous blogs in relation to the Minister’s notice of 26th November relating to the new immigration requirements for nationals of South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique and Zimbabwe

This notice has again been updated on 6th December 2021 by the Department of Justice.

The notice is entitled:

Visa Requirements for Persons Travelling from South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique and Zimbabwe (or persons who have been in those countries in the last 14 days).

On 28th and 30th November 2021 the Minister enacted the following Regulations:

HEALTH ACT 1947 (SECTION 31A – TEMPORARY RESTRICTIONS) (COVID-19) (RESTRICTIONS UPON TRAVEL TO THE STATE FROM CERTAIN STATES) (NO. 5) (AMENDMENT) (NO. 6) REGULATIONS 2021

A full version of the Regulations is available here:

https://www.irishstatutebook.ie/eli/2021/si/639/made/en/pdf

The updated notice outlines that if you are visa or non-visa  required national and you are travelling to Ireland from South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique and Zimbabwe you will be required to comply with the restrictions on travel provided for in these Regulations.

It is stated that visa applications will only be accepted and processed where an applicant comes within one of the outlined exemptions:

  • Has obtained or is entitled to apply for a right of residence under EU Free Movement
  • Has a valid Residence Permission in the State under the immigration Acts
  • Is a family member of an Irish citizen
  • Is a diplomat and to whom the privileges and immunities conferred by an international agreement or arrangement or customary international law apply in the State, pursuant to the Diplomatic Relations and Immunities Acts 1967 to 2006 or any other enactment or the Constitution

The notice further elaborates that even where an applicant meets the above exceptions, travel should be limited to “essential journeys only”.

The Minister confirms that the Regulations only apply to persons travelling from South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique and Zimbabwe.

It is confirmed that if you have not been in one of the above countries in the previous 14 days  prior to arrival in the State the Regulations do not apply to you.

Nationals of South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique and Zimbabwe remain visa required persons. Persons who hold nationality of the above countries, who have not been in above  countries for the previous 14 days can apply for a visa in the normal way and are not subject to the narrow exemptions above.

It should be noted that the Minister has a policy to seek proof of lawful residence in the country from which a visa required national applies for their visa to Ireland. Our experience has been that the Relevant Irish Embassy/Visa Office will seek evidence of lawful residence permission from the applicant in the Country from which they have applied for their visa.

The full update of 6th December  can be found below:

https://www.irishimmigration.ie/covid-19-visa-arrangements/

This notice is complex and the Immigration procedures for nationals of South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique and Zimbabwe have now been amended at least three times within a period of 2 weeks.

This highlights the continued uncertainty and ongoing challenges of the pandemic.  We understand the distress and worry this will have caused to those affected.

If this notice affects you or your family, please do not hesitate to contact Berkeley Solicitors to discuss your case.

NEW ENTRY AND TRANSIT VISA REQUIREMENTS FOR CERTAIN AFRICAN COUNTRIES AMENDED

We refer to our previous blog on 30th November 2021:

https://berkeleysolicitors.ie/new-entry-and-transit-visa-requirements-for-certain-african-countries-announced/

The Minister for Justice has amended the  entry visa and transit visa requirements for nationals of South Africa, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho  and Namibia.

The priority categories for which visa applications will be accepted and processed  has been amended and severely reduced to the following:

  • has obtained or is entitled to apply for a right of residence under EU Free Movement;
  • has a valid Residence Permission in the State under the immigration Acts (including persons covered by the interim arrangements that apply from 15 November 2021 to 15 January 2021
  • is a family member of an Irish citizen
  • has not been in one of the following countries (South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique, and Zimbabwe) in the previous 14 days prior to the date of travel to the State;
  • is a diplomat and to whom the privileges and immunities conferred by an international agreement or arrangement or customary international law apply in the State, pursuant to the Diplomatic Relations and Immunities Acts 1967 to 2006 or any other enactment or the Constitution.

This is severely reduced from the previous notice, which included employment permit holders and all join family visa applications.

Affected persons  should also take note of the Minister’s note of caution that further changes may take place at short notice.

If this affects you or your family, please get in contact with Berkeley Solicitors to discuss your case.

 

MINISTER FOR JUSTICE ANNOUNCES NEW REGULARISATION SCHEME FOR LONG-TERM UNDOCUMENTED MIGRANTS

On 3rd December 2021, the Minister for Justice announced a new scheme which will enable many undocumented migrants to apply to regularise their residency status.

The scheme will open for online applications in January 2022 and applications will be accepted for six months.

The scheme will include those who do not have a current permission to reside in Ireland, whether they arrived illegally or whether their permission expired or was withdrawn years ago.

In order to be eligible, applicants must have been undocumented for a period of four years, or three years in the case of those with dependent children.

According to a briefing session with Department of Justice officials held on 2nd December  2021, a short period of absence from the State in the undocumented period for those who would otherwise qualify will be disregarded. This will be limited to a max of 60 days absence from the State and the documented period arising from the short-term tourist permission (up to 90 days).

Applicants must meet standards regarding good character, though having convictions for minor offences will not, of itself, result in disqualification.

There will be no requirement for applicants to demonstrate that they would not be a financial burden on the State, as the scheme is aimed at those who may be economically and socially marginalised as a result of their undocumented status.

The scheme will also be open to individuals with expired student permission, those who have been issued with a section 3 notice under the Immigration Act 1999, and those who have received deportation orders.

The scheme is also expected to include international protection applicants who have been in the asylum process for a minimum of 2 years, though full details on this are yet to be announced.

There will be an application fee of €700 for family unit applications, while a fee of €550 will apply to individuals’ applications. Children up to 23 years, living with their parent(s), can be included in a family unit application.

Successful applicants will be granted residence permission which will allow access to the labour market and will provide a pathway to Irish citizenship.

Announcing the scheme, the Minister for Justice Helen McEntee stated:

“I’m delighted that the Government has approved my proposal for this momentous, once-in-a-generation scheme.

Given that those who will benefit from this scheme currently live in the shadows, it is difficult to say how many will be eligible, but we are opening this scheme for six months from January to allow people come forward and regularise their status.

It will bring some much-needed certainty and peace of mind to thousands of people who are already living here and making a valuable contribution to our society and the economy, many of whom may be very vulnerable due to their current immigration circumstances.”

As a result, they may be reluctant to seek medical assistance when ill, assistance from An Garda Síochána when they are the victim of a crime, or a range of other supports designed to assist vulnerable people in their times of need.”

I believe that in opening this scheme, we are demonstrating the same goodwill and generosity of spirit that we ask is shown to the countless Irish people who left this island to build their lives elsewhere.”

The full announcement can be read here.

Studies suggest that there are 17,000 undocumented persons in the State, including up to 3,000 children.

Berkeley Solicitors welcomes the announcement of this scheme, which will allow many undocumented migrants to come forward and apply to regularise their status.