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BERKELEY SOLICITORS CALLS ON THE MINISTER TO ADDRESS THE ISSUE OF STATELESS PEOPLE IN IRELAND

It is a matter of great concern to Berkeley Solicitors that Ireland continues to deny stateless persons the right to have their status recognised contrary to the UN Convention for Stateless Persons.

The Immigrant Council of Ireland has stated that:

‘Ireland continues to fail in meeting international standards for providing legal framework to protect stateless people and does not have sufficient safeguards in place to prevent and reduce statelessness from occurring through legal gaps.’

The first applicant in Ireland to obtain a declaration of ‘stateless’ status was in 2014, and a client of Ms Karen Berkeley. A summary of the case can be found at:

https://www.irishtimes.com/news/social-affairs/ireland-gives-legal-status-to-first-stateless-resident-1.1742516

Acting for the client, Ms Berkeley commented that Ireland’s failure to establish an administrative process for stateless residents was a breach of its obligations under the 1954 Convention.

However, following this case no application procedure has yet been created by the Minister for Justice.

It is a very unsatisfactory situation that stateless persons generally have to apply for refugee status and fit their case into the narrow legal definition of a refugee.

Berkeley Solicitors calls on the Minister to establish a legal procedure for stateless persons in the UN Convention for Stateless Persons.

 

REOPENING OF BURGH QUAY REGISTRATION OFFICE

The Burgh Quay Registration Office will reopen for non-nationals who are registering for their first immigration permission on Monday 10th May 2021.

In the notice published on the 6th May 2021, INIS stated that the office will be in contact with applicants whose appointments were cancelled due to the closures in line with the level 5 restrictions.

It is intended that these cancelled appointments will be rescheduled as quickly as possible.

Applicants in the Dublin region who wish to register for their first immigration permission can book an appointment at:

https://burghquayregistrationoffice.inis.gov.ie/

For those located outside of Dublin, applications are processed by the Garda National Immigration Bureau. Contact details for these offices can be found here:

https://www.garda.ie/

The reopening now means that those who have been granted residence permission can apply for an Irish Residence Permit and will have evidence of their right to reside and work.

This is very welcome news for our clients who have been facing practical difficulties due to the closures.

The full announcement can be found at:

http://www.inis.gov.ie/en/INIS/Pages/updates-announcements

Berkeley Solicitors advises all our clients who have received their first residence permission approval since the closure of Burgh Quay on the 23rd December 2020 to immediately apply for an appointment to register.

 

SUSPENSION OF VISA AND PRECLEARANCE APPLICATIONS EXTENDED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE

The decision to temporarily suspend the processing of new visa and preclearance applications has been extended as of 5th May 2021.

In its notice, the Department of Justice stated that:

‘these measures will remain in place until further notice’ and that ‘the situation will continue to be reviewed in consultation with the relevant authorities in the coming weeks.’

Due to the level 5 restrictions, there are a limited number of applications currently being processed, including priority and emergency cases.

These cases include applications for essential workers, patients travelling for necessary medical treatment and persons travelling for urgent family reasons.

The notice also states that applications received before the 29th January will continue to be processed.

Applications for appeal are also being accepted and processed.

There is no indication of when the Department will recommence accepting new visa and preclearance applications.

The full announcement can be found at:

http://www.inis.gov.ie/en/INIS/Pages/visas-updates

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

CONGRATULATIONS TO CLIENTS OF BERKELEY SOLICITORS WHO HAVE BEEN RECENTLY APPROVED FOR NATURALIZATION

Berkeley Solicitors offers congratulations to a number of our clients who have recently received approval on their naturalization applications.

This is very welcome news for our clients who have all been waiting in excess of two years to have their applications approved.

Covid-19 restrictions have resulted in delays for over 24,000 people awaiting approval for naturalization.

With in-person citizenship ceremonies not set to resume until December, the approved applicants can now sign a statutory declaration in the presence of a designated official.

In a letter, the Minister for Justice offered her ‘warmest congratulations’ to the approved applicants as they begin a new chapter in their lives as Irish citizens.

Berkeley Solicitors congratulates our clients on receiving this good news after a very long wait.

PASSPORT SERVICES TO BE CONSIDERED ESSENTIAL UNDER NEW PLANS BROUGHT TO CABINET

Today, new proposals will be brought to Cabinet by the Minister for Foreign Affairs which will deem the production of passports an essential service.

The majority of passport services have been suspended since December in line with the Level 5 restrictions.

It is planned that the Minister will ask the Cabinet to consider passport services an essential service in order to allow the backlog to be efficiently cleared.

Approximately 89,000 people have been affected by delays in the processing of passport applications including 44,000 domestic applications and 45,000 from outside the State.

The issuing of a passport to Irish citizens is provided for under the Passports Act 2008 which states:

‘a person who is an Irish citizen and is, subject to this Act, thereby entitled to be issued with a passport.’

Berkeley Solicitors therefore believes that the failure to issue passports to Irish citizens is contrary to this Act.

This matter is of great concern and Berkeley Solicitors has received many queries from those who have been unable to receive a passport for travel or identification purposes.

In deeming the production of passports an essential service, it is hoped that this backlog can be cleared in a matter of weeks.

Berkeley Solicitors are happy to see this news today and we hope that it will benefit those who have been affected.

UPDATE ON PROMISED SCHEME TO REGULARISE STATUS OF UNDOCUMENTED MIGRANTS

The Minister for Justice Helen McEntee is due to publish her Justice Plan 2021 today, the 22nd February 2021.

The plan contains more than 200 actions which are to be implemented in the next 12 months, including the promised regularisation scheme for undocumented persons.

According to an article in The Journal, the scheme is expected to launch in the autumn and applications will be accepted by the end of the year.

The Minister for Justice was quoted as saying:

“We are all familiar with the plight of the undocumented Irish who have built their lives in the United States but have not regularised their status, even though they are an integral part of their communities. 

We must acknowledge there are thousands of people here in Ireland in a similar position: who have started families here, work here and contribute so much to our society but who want to regularise their position with Irish authorities.

The scheme will be open to applicants by the end of the year and could benefit an estimated 17,000 people, including 3,000 young people or children.”

Berkeley Solicitors welcomes the news that the Department of Justice is prioritising this important issue and we look forward to the scheme being published.

As soon as the intended scheme is published, we will post a further update on this blog.

The full article can be read here.

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

DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE ANNOUNCES EU TREATY RIGHTS AND DOMESTIC RESIDENCE APPLICATIONS CAN BE SUBMITTED ELECTRONICALLY DURING COVID-19 RESTRICTIONS

On 15th January 2021, the Department of Justice published an updated notice regarding the submission of certain immigration applications during Covid-19 restrictions.

The notice confirms that as a temporary measure between Monday 18th January 2021 and Friday 30th April 2021, both EU Treaty Rights and Domestic Residence applications can be submitted by email with copies of supporting documentation.

In normal circumstances these applications need to be submitted by post with hard copy documents.

Any original documentation that is required for the application may need be submitted by post at a later date. The notice further states that documents should be submitted in PDF format.

This is a welcome development which will simplify the application process during the current Covid-19 lockdown.

The full notice can be read here.

If you have queries about EU Treaty Rights and Domestic Residence applications, please do not hesitate to contact the office.

MINISTER FOR JUSTICE ANNOUNCES NEW TEMPORARY PROCESS FOR GRANTING CITIZENSHIP DURING COVID-19 RESTRICTIONS

On 18th January 2021, the Minister for Justice Helen McEntee announced a new temporary process for the granting of citizenship during Covid-19 restrictions.

In normal circumstances, successful applicants are required to attend a citizenship ceremony in order to obtain a certificate of nationality.

However, citizenship ceremonies have been suspended since March 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Under the new temporary system, qualifying applicants will be asked to complete a statutory declaration that will be emailed to them by the Citizenship Division of the Department of Justice. They will be required to bring the statutory declaration to one of the listed designated officials who will witness the applicant sign the statutory declaration.

The applicant must then send the signed statutory declaration, the appropriate fee and any other requested documentation to the Department’s Citizenship Division. A certificate of naturalisation signed by the Minister for Justice will then be sent to the applicant.

This new system is in place from 18th January 2021.

Commenting on the new system, the Minister stated Minister McEntee said:

“The granting of Irish citizenship through naturalisation is a privilege and an honour which is recognised by the thousands of people who apply every year. I am pleased that we can now bring some certainty to the people whose applications have effectively been on hold during the pandemic.

Approximately 4,000 applicants have not been able to receive a certificate of naturalisation due to the temporary suspension of citizenship ceremonies. The process I am opening today means that certificates can now be granted again, once the signed and witnessed statutory declaration and relevant fee has been received by my Department.”

The Department of Justice will be in contact with qualifying applicants regarding the requirements on a phased basis over the next few months until in-person citizenship ceremonies are able to recommence.

The Department stated that the 4,000 applicants currently waiting on naturalisation will have been provided with an opportunity to gain citizenship by the end of March.

The Minister also commented that in-person ceremonies are provisionally scheduled to resume in December 2021.

In addition to this, Minister McEntee outlined some additional digital measures that she intends to implement in order to simplify the naturalisation process:

“I am putting the Justice Sector on a Digital First footing and will move our services away from old, paper-based systems.

Plans for the digitalisation of the naturalisation process are well advanced, through increased digital and ICT investment. As part of this process, eTax-clearance for citizenship applicants has been introduced. Online payments have been trialled for applications from minors and the process is currently being rolled out to adult applications on a phased basis.”

If you have any queries about the naturalisation process, please do not hesitate to contact our office.

NEW IMMIGRATION SCHEME FOR NON-EEA FAMILY MEMBERS OF BRITISH CITIZENS FOLLOWING END OF BREXIT TRANSITIONAL PERIOD

On 23rd December 2020 the ISD published the Minister’s new scheme in relation to Non-EEA Family Members of UK Citizens intending to reside in the State from 1st January 2021 onwards.

The rights of British citizens to reside in Ireland remains unchanged. The rights of family reunification with Non-EEA family members has now changed dramatically.

British citizens who exercised their rights of free movement to Ireland prior to 31.12.20 will continue to hold rights to family reunion equivalent to those provided for by Directive 2004/28/EC and the European Communities (Free Movement of Persons) Regulations 2015.

British citizens who have moved to reside and work in Ireland and who wish to be joined by their Non-EEA family members from 1st January 2021 onwards will have their family members applications considered and assessed under this newly published scheme.

A key point to note is that all applications are to be made from outside of the State regardless of an applicant’s nationality. This is a fundamental difference to applications from family members of Irish and other Non-EEA family members- applicants from “visa required” countries apply for visas whilst remaining outside the State, applicants from “non visa required” countries can travel to the State and make their application for entry at the airport. For non-EEA family members of British citizens, a visa application must be made for visa required nationals and a preclearance application is to be made for non-visa required applicants.

The policy specifically confirms that an applicant currently in the State on visitor permission cannot apply from inside the State for a change to a long-term permission.

Where a non-EEA national holds a separate immigration permission within the State for the purpose of study, work, etc., and subsequently becomes the spouse/civil partner/ de facto partner of a British citizen, a change of status request may be made.

The INIS Policy on Non-EEA Family reunification, last updated in December 2016 continues to apply to the non-EEA family members of Irish citizens and legally resident Non-EEA nationals.

This new policy specifically relates to non-EEA family members of British citizens.

There are no minimum Irish residency requirements for UK citizens seeking to sponsor a specified non-EEA national family member.

Financial thresholds:

For all categories of applications:

In order to sponsor a specified non-EEA national family member, a UK citizen must not have been totally or predominantly reliant on social protection benefits in the State or to equivalent benefits in another State for a continuous period of at least 2 years prior to the application.

Applications involving spouses/ partners only:

The WFP does not apply in the case of a married couple, civil partner / de facto partnership where there are no children and consequently a minimum level of assessable income for couples without children is €20,000 per annum, over and above any entitlement to State benefits.

Applications involving minor children/ dependent children up to the age of 22 of British citizen or partner/spouse of British citizen:

In addition, the sponsor must have earned a gross income in each of the 3 previous years in excess of that applied by the Department of Social Protection (DSP) in assessing eligibility for Working Family Payment (WFP).

4.6 A sponsor who wishes to reside with their dependent children in the State requires the net assessable income per week for their family size as set out by the Department of Social Protection (DSP) in assessing eligibility for the Working Family Payment, as published on that Department’s website. The sponsor should comply with those limits including with respect to any changes to the WFP as published at (http://www.welfare.ie/en/Pages/Working-Family-Payment-Op.aspx.)

Applications for dependent parents (aged 66 and over)

A sponsor will be required to have earned in each of the 3 years preceding the application, an income after tax and deductions of not less that €60,000 per annum in the case of one parent. €75,000 per annum applies where two parents are involved.

The expectation is that this minimum level of income will be maintained for the duration of any permission granted under this Scheme. Where such income levels are not maintained, permission may not be renewed under the Scheme. At the date of application, the sponsor is also required to show that he/she is capable of earning a sufficient level of income to support his/her dependent family members for the duration of their proposed residence in the State.

Eligible applicants

British citizens moving to Ireland from 1.1.21 onwards no longer have the legal entitlement to apply for entry and residence for their wider dependent Non-EEA family members and members of their households. Eligible family members are specifically listed under the Scheme and the immigration stamp to be granted to the applicant if successful are also outlined:

  • Spouse, (Stamp 4D)
  • civil partner, (Stamp 4D)
  • de factor partner (2 years cohabitation required), (Stamp 4D)
  • minor children, (Stamp 3 up to age of 18, Stamp 4D at age of 18 “upon application”).
  • children between the ages of 18 and 22 in certain circumstances of dependency (also applies to the children of the spouse/ civil partner and de facto partner of British citizen) (Stamp 4D)
  • elderly dependent parents of British citizen or spouse/partner of British citizen (must be 66 years of age of older), (Stamp 0).

The policy is silent on the conditions of Stamp 4D permission and the INIS webpage has not yet been updated to outline the conditions of Stamp 4D permission and any material differences between Stamp 4D and Stamp 4.

Other additional requirements:

There are also additional requirements, not required under the 2016 INIS family reunification policy document, namely the requirement for the applicants to have health insurance in place to commence from the date of entry to the State and the requirement to provide a police clearance certificate for any country resided in for in excess of 6 months over the previous 5 years.

Fees are payable in respect of applications under this scheme, €60 per visa/ pre clearance application and the registration fees of €300 will be applied to successful applicants.

Full details on the scheme can be found via the below:

http://www.inis.gov.ie/en/INIS/policy-document-brexit-scheme-non-eea-family-british-citizens-seeking-immigration-permission.pdf/Files/policy-document-brexit-scheme-non-eea-family-british-citizens-seeking-immigration-permission.pdf

http://www.inis.gov.ie/en/INIS/Pages/joining-your-uk-national-family-member-in-ireland

Please get in contact if you or your family are impacted by this new scheme.

MINISTER FOR JUSTICE ANSWERS PARLIAMENTARY QUESTIONS RELATING TO EU TREATY RIGHTS REVIEW APPLICATIONS

On Tuesday 22nd September 2020, Holly Cairns TD put a number of parliamentary questions to the Minister for Justice relating to EU Treaty Rights review applications.

Deputy Cairns asked the Minister to provide details of the immigration status given to individuals that are waiting for a decision on EUTR review applications, and further asked if persons that are waiting for an EUTR review decision are permitted to work or to claim Covid-19 pandemic emergency payments.

In response to these questions the Minister stated as follows:

“A person who applies for a Residence Card on the basis of being a Qualified Family Member (QFM) of an EU National will generally be granted a Temporary Stamp 4 (TS4) of 6-9 months duration, on application, pending the processing of their application. A TS4 enables a person to live and work in the State.

If their application is refused, and they apply for a Review of this decision, another Temporary Stamp 4 will generally be issued to them, pending the Review application being processed, and a final review decision issuing. A successful QFM applicant at either application stage or Review stage will be issued a Residence card of 5 years duration (Stamp 4 EUFam).

Permitted Family Member (PFM) applicants, unlike Qualified Family Member applicants, are not issued with a temporary stamp on application or review. If a PFM applicant is deemed to be a PFM of an EU Citizen exercising their Treaty Rights, under the terms of the Directive, either when their application is processed, or when their review decision is processed, they will be issued a Residence Card of 5 years duration. (Stamp4 EUFam).

Anyone who has lost their job as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic can apply to the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection for the Pandemic Unemployment Payment.”

Deputy Cairns also asked the Minister to provide details of the pending EUTR review applications according to nationality in tabular form.

The Minister confirmed that there are currently 2,142 review applications being processed in respect of 91 different nationalities. A table detailing the number of applications and the nationalities of the applicants was also published and can be accessed here.

The questions put to the Minister and the answers given can be read in full here and here.

If you or a family member have any queries about an EU Treaty Rights application, please do not hesitate to contact our office.