Tag Archive for: Department of justice

REFUSAL OF NATURALISATION APPLICATION ON GOOD CHARACTER GROUNDS OVERTURNED BY HIGH COURT

REFUSAL OF NATURALISATION APPLICATION ON GOOD CHARACTER GROUNDS OVERTURNED BY HIGH COURT

Mr Justice Garrett Simons of the High Court has recently delivered a judgement in the case of A.J.A v Minister for Justice [2022] IEHC 162 JR.

The case concerned a refusal of an application for naturalisation.

The application was refused on the grounds that the Applicant did not meet the good character criterion under Section 15(1)(b) of the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act, 1956. The Applicant was found to have submitted a potentially false Somali passport with her application.

The Applicant subsequently issued judicial review proceedings in the High Court to challenge the decision to refuse her application for a certificate of naturalisation. This was the second set of judicial review proceedings issued by the Applicant in respect of her application for naturalisation. The Applicant had issued judicial review proceedings in 2021 challenging the delay in processing her application. These proceedings were struck out of the High Court in January 2022, following the issuance of a decision on the Applicant’s application in December 2021.

The primary issue that was considered in the second set of judicial review proceedings was whether fair procedures had been observed in the Minister’s decision-making process.

The Applicant submitted her application for naturalisation on the 29th May 2017. On the 6th November 2017, the Applicant’s solicitors submitted a letter to the Minister that highlighted the Applicant’s concern as to the genuineness of the passport that she had submitted with her application. On the 10th May 2018, the Applicant’s solicitors sent a further letter to outline attempts made by the Applicant to have a new Somali passport issued. The Respondent then sent a letter in response, confirming that a thorough investigation was required as to the genuineness of the Applicant’s passport.  It was the Applicant herself who proactively contacted the Minister in relation to this issue and confirmed that she had always acted in good faith in respect of her application for a passport and in respect of her application for naturalisation.

The Applicant was ultimately successful in the High Court on the grounds that the Minister’s decision did not consider the Applicant’s explanation nor the exculpatory factors at issue.

Mr Justice Garrett Simons found that submission of the Minister did not meet the prescribed standard of fair procedures as it failed to acknowledge the explanations offered by the Applicant in respect of her passport. Ms Justice Garrett Simons found that, “The omission from the submission/recommendation of an accurate record of the explanation and exculpatory factors is fatal to the validity of the decision made.” The Court further found that the Minister’s decision did not meet the legal test for the adequacy of reasons.

The Court acknowledged that the submission of a false passport is an extremely serious issue and could of course legitimately give rise to a decision to refuse an application for Irish citizenship by way of naturalisation. The Court found that it was the manner in which the decision was made that was problematic, it was not clear whether the Applicant’s explanation that due to the circumstances in Somalia and the lack of Government, she could not confirm if her passport was valid or not,  had been provided to the Minister when the decision to refuse was made. The Court held that “The failure of the respondent in the present case to take the basic step of identifying the precise documents which had been submitted to the ultimate decision-maker is regrettable”.

The Minister of Justice’s decision to refuse the Applicant’s naturalisation application was quashed. The Court held:

 

  1. The submission/recommendation in the present case failed to meet the prescribed standard of fair procedures. The principal deficiency is that the submission/recommendation fails to record, even in the most cursory form, the explanations offered by the Applicant, through her solicitors, for the submission of the false passport. There is no reference to the practical difficulties asserted by the Applicant in obtaining a passport from Somalia given what is said to be the absence of a functioning central government there. Nor is there any reference to the efforts made by the Applicant to travel to the Somali Embassy in Belgium for the purpose of obtaining a passport. Although these events occurred after the submission of the false passport, they are, 13 arguably, indicative of the practical difficulties which a Somalia national, who has been long-term resident in the Irish State, faces in obtaining a passport from that country

The full judgement can be found here.

This blog article has been prepared on the basis of current immigration law and policy, which is subject to change. Please keep an eye on our blog and Facebook page where articles relating to updates and changes in immigration law and policy are regularly posted.

REVIEW OF THE ATYPICAL SCHEME FOR NON-EEA CREW IN THE IRISH FISHING FLEET

In a notice posted on the ISD Webpage on 14th October 2022 it was announced that a Review of the Atypical Scheme for non-EEA Crew in the Irish Fishing Fleet has been conducted and published.

The report is a detailed assessment of the Scheme and has taken into account the submissions and views of various stakeholders, including the fishing industry, the relevant state bodies and the permission holders themselves.

It is apparent from the report that this is a complex area, with many stakeholders.
The report has been jointly welcomed by the Minister for Justice, the Minster of State at the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment and the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine.

The notice states that the key recommendation of the report is that:
‘the employment of non-EEA crew in the Irish Fishing Fleet be provided for under the Employment Permit system, instead of the Atypical Working Scheme.’

Since its inception in 2016 there have been multiple and serious concerns regarding the operation of the A typical working scheme for non-EEA fisherman in the State. The legality of the operation of the scheme has also been challenged through High Court litigation.

The report outlines that 337 persons have been granted permission under this scheme since 2016. Half of the persons are Filipino nationals, with 85% being from either Philippines, Ghana Indonesia and Egypt.

In 2019, a number of changes were made to the scheme to attempt to alleviate the concerns and the serious issues raised by permission holders and NGOs. It also followed a report by Maynooth University into the area , which can be accessed here https://www.maynoothuniversity.ie/sites/default/files/assets/document/Experiences%20of%20Non%20EEA%20Workers%20in%20the%20Irish%20Fishing%20Industry.pdf

The report also highlights the media coverage of the industry and the risk of Ireland facing sanctions by U.S. authorities after a U.S.-based human rights campaign group filed a report with American authorities alleging exploitation of migrant workers aboard Irish fishing vessels.

The report has concluded that the most appropriate course of action is to end the A typical working scheme for Non-EEA fishermen.

The recommendation is that persons may apply to work and reside in the State as fisherman, by obtaining an Employment Permit from the Department of Trade, Enterprise and Employment. This will involve the removal of fishermen from the ineligible employment list and will result in the salary required to employ a fisherman in the state rising in line with Employment permit legislation, the minimum allowable salary being €30,000 per annum based on 39 hours per week. It would also result in the oversight of granting permission to individuals to work in the Stats as fisherman would be with the DETE. This would seem appropriate given that Department’s responsibility for the oversight of compliance with employment legislation.

Many stakeholders in their submissions argued that Stamp 4 should be granted on a general basis to all individuals currently here in the State under the Scheme.

The report has concluded that it cannot recommend a general granting of Stamp 4 permission on a universal basis to the holders of A typical permission to work in the State as fisherman. It has been concluded that this would treat this group of persons more favourably that other persons resident in the State on A typical permission, such as nurses and locum doctors.
The report has stated that it is view of the relevant authorities that it would not be possible to grant Stamp 4 generally to all persons resident in the State on A typical permission, as to grant a general Stamp 4 to healthcare workers would be in breach of international commitments.

Therefore, it is not considered ‘prudent to make one cohort of holders of permission under the Atypical Working Scheme eligible for a permission which cannot, due to international commitments, be made available to other holders of identical permission.’

Through the employment permit system, persons can apply for Stamp 4 permission after two years of holding critical skills permit and after five years of holding a general employment permit.
The recommendation is that non-EEA sea fishers could be eligible to apply for Stamp 4 permission after two years, which is the same criteria applied to critical skills permit holders.

We submit that the individuals who have already resided in the State for five years under this scheme should be granted Stamp 4 at this stage on an individual basis. We submit that the Minister has the ability to grant such permission in an individual case pursuant to Section 4(7) of the Immigration Act 2004 in an individual case.

The report states that 120 persons appear to be eligible to apply for naturalisation at this stage, given their period of residence in the State under this scheme. We submit it would be fair and reasonable that those individuals would be granted Stamp 4 pursuant to Section 4(7) of the Immigration Act 2004, given the processing time for naturalisation application and also the potential impact of absences from the State for the purposes of being granted naturalisation.

The full review can be accessed here
https://www.irishimmigration.ie/wp-content/uploads/2022/10/Report-of-the-Review-Group.pdf

The Minister’s notice can be accessed here:

If you have been impacted by the above, please do not hesitate to contact Berkeley Solicitors.

MINISTER HELEN MCENTEE ANSWERS PARLIAMENTARY QUESTION REGARDING PROCESSING TIMES FOR NATURALISATION APPLICATIONS IN THE STATE

Minister Helen McEntee recently answered a parliamentary question in relation to the processing times for naturalization applications in the State.

Deputy Bernard J Durkan asked the Minister to confirm the number of naturalization applications that had been received by the Department of Justice during the period of 1st January 2022 to 31st March 2022, how many of those had been granted, and the expected processing time for those that had yet to be determined.

The Minister acknowledged the importance that naturalization applications hold for applicants, and highlighted that the Department of Justice continued to accept applications throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.

Minister McEntee confirmed that 3,706 naturalization applications were received by the Department of Justice between 1st January 2022 and the 31st March 2022, three of which have been approved. She continued to clarify that a further 24 applications from this cohort are “in the final stage of processing”.

Interestingly, Minister McEntee confirmed that the average processing time for naturalization applications is currently 19 months and highlighted that this had been reduced from a previously stated processing time of 23 months. While the reduction of the processing time is a welcome update, it remains far above the pre-pandemic average processing time of 12 months.

Minister McEntee portrayed an awareness of the need for a further reduction in the length of time people are currently being made to wait to have their citizenship applications determined. She highlighted that the Department of Justice is introducing new measures to try and speed up the process, including the assignment of new staff and a number of digitization measures. It remains to be seen if these measures will indeed aide the continued reduction of processing times of naturalization applications in the State.

If you or your family require advice on your eligibility for naturalisation or in respect of your ongoing naturalisation application, please do not hesitate to contact our office.

The full parliamentary question and answer can be read here.

MINISTER FOR JUSTICE ANNOUNCES ARRANGEMENTS FOR THE RENEWAL AND REGISTRATION OF IMMIGRATION PERMISSIONS

On the 27th May 2022, the Minister of Justice announced new arrangements for the renewal and registration of immigration permissions. Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, the Minister for Justice automatically extended immigration permissions of those who held a valid permission to reside in the State that expired in or after March 2020. The Minister of Justice made announcements on nine different occasions, each time stating that permissions would be automatically renewed to a certain date. The most recent extension announced by the Minister extended immigrations permissions to the 31st May 2022.

For the first time since March 2020, the Minister for Justice has announced that immigration permissions that expired between March 2020 and May 2022 will no longer be automatically renewed. The Minister announced that the exemption from renewing is to end from the 31st May 2022.

The extension of immigration permissions was a response by the Department of Justice to the ever-changing and uncertain health and travel restrictions that were in place during the Covid-19 pandemic.

In making the announcement, the Minister for Justice commented;

Now that those circumstances are returning to normal, it is important that we also return to a more normal way of doing business. This includes in relation to first-time registrations and renewals, and processes and procedures have been in place to allow customers to do so for some time now.

You can apply to renew your immigration permission online at https://inisonline.jahs.ie/. Those applying with a new passport can now also upload the bio-page of their passport online.

Previously, it was a requirement that you had to wait until four weeks before your permission was due to expire to be able to renew. This has been amended, and you can now renew your permission up to 12 weeks in advance of your permission expiring.

Those based in Dublin can register their immigration permission for the first time by calling Freephone number 1800 741 741. Those located outside of Dublin are required to make an appointment to register their immigration permission through the Garda Station network.

The Minister of Justice announced important clarifications for employees whose immigration permission has expired and who are unable to obtain a valid IRP card before the 31st May 2022. The Minister has confirmed non-EEA nationals can legally continue work while their application for renewal is processing once they can provide their employer with documentary evidence of same.

In the announcement, the Minister also confirmed that students who intend to enroll in third level education, can apply for a short-term letter of permission based on proof of application or enrolment once they have completed three eight-month English language courses.

 

The notice can be read in full here.

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

INFORMATION FOR UKRAINIAN NATIONALS AND RESIDENTS OF UKRAINE TRAVELLING TO IRELAND

Since 25th February 2022 nationals of Ukraine do not need an entry visa to travel to and enter Ireland pursuant to S.I. No. 86/2022 – Immigration Act 2004 (Visas) (Amendment) Order 2022.

The EU Member states have now activated the application of Council Directive 2001/55/EC of 20 July 2001 by way of a Council implementing Decision. This means that the EU members states will now offer “temporary protection” to those fleeing the war in Ukraine.

Ireland along with the other EU member states will now offer and provide “temporary protection” to Ukrainian nationals and lawful residents of Ukraine. Temporary protection will be initially provided for 12 months, potentially renewable for a further 24 months.

It is estimated that upwards of 2,000 people have arrived in Ireland to date fleeing the war in Ukraine, with many more thousands expected to follow.

Following the adoption of Council Directive 2001/55/EC, those fleeing the war in Ukraine will not be required to submit  applications for asylum upon arrival in Ireland and will be offered temporary protection here.

Following a helpful briefing session with Government officials today, it is our understanding that the Irish Government are acting urgently to put in a place a system to provide temporary protection in the most humanitarian and urgent manner possible.

It is hoped that the process to obtain temporary protection will be an  extremely simple process and in  near future  it is hoped that this temporary permission will  in fact be provided at the airport or port of entry.

Temporary protection will be granted to persons arriving in Ireland from Ukraine and covers both Ukrainian nationals residing in Ukraine and also  nationals of other countries  or stateless persons residing legally in Ukraine and who are unable to return in safe and durable conditions to their country or region of origin, as well as their family members.

The requirement of inability to return in safe and durable conditions to their country or region of origin shall not apply to third-country nationals or stateless persons who have been legally residing on a long-term basis in Ukraine.

Family members include spouses, partners, children and also other close relatives who lived together as part of the family unit at the time of the circumstances surrounding the mass influx, and who were wholly or mainly dependent on their family.

Persons holding temporary protection will enjoy the rights afforded under Section 60 of the International Protection Act 2015- to seek and enter employment and to engage in business, to access education and training, to receive medical care and social welfare benefits and the same right of travel in the State as those to which Irish citizens are entitled.

We welcome the Irish Government’s commitment to welcoming those impacted by the war in Ukraine to seek protection and safety in Ireland. We hope that the adoption of  a “temporary protection”  system within the EU will provide a streamlined and  efficient system focused on  the urgent  needs of the millions of people  who have been displaced by the war in Ukraine.

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.

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.

OBSTACLES FACING STAMP 1G HOLDERS IN RENEWING IMMIGRATION PERMISSION

The Dublin Inquirer published an article on 3rd February 2021 which set out the obstacles faced by the holders of Stamp 1G immigration permission.

A Stamp 1G is often given to graduates who are non-EEA nationals and who have completed their studies in Ireland. Those with a Bachelor’s Degree generally receive a 12-month permission, while those with a Master’s Degrees may receive a 24-month permission.

Prior to the expiry of their permission, Stamp 1G holders must find a job that requires an employment permit if they want to stay in Ireland on a long-term basis.

While it is possible to apply to the Department of Justice to renew your Stamp 1G, there is limited guidance as to what evidence is needed in order to be successful. In general, a person must either show that they found a job or took “appropriate steps” to find one prior to the expiry of their permission.

This requirement causes significant difficulties for Stamp 1G holders, who face the extremely difficult task of finding an employer who is willing to sponsor an employment permit for them, and to take on all of the additional administrative work this entails.

The Dublin Inquirer interviewed a number of Stamp 1G holders, who stated that in their experience, the majority of employers are not willing to hire them due to their immigration status, resulting in their applications being throw out or job offers being withdrawn.

This causes many Stamp 1G holders to accept lower-wage jobs in order to stay in Ireland, rather than holding out for better work that is related to their field of study.

Another individual interviewed by the Dublin Inquirer discussed the worry and uncertainty he experiences, explaining how he spends the majority of his time applying for jobs and keeping a record of his applications and rejections to present to the Department of Justice.

Many Stamp 1G holders have invested years of their time and money studying in Ireland with the intention of residing and building their careers here. However, upon graduation they are faced with significant obstacles in doing so.

A spokesperson for the Department of Justice was quoted in the article as saying there are no current plans to amend the renewal process for Stamp 1G holders.

The full article can be read here.

https://dublininquirer.com/2021/02/03/graduates-from-elsewhere-face-an-extra-anxious-job-search

If you require legal advices regarding your stamp 1G permission, please do not hesitate to contact our office.