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MINISTER FOR JUSTICE ANNOUNCES FURTHER EXTENSION OF IMMIGRATION PERMISSIONS

On 26th March 2021, the Minister for Justice Helen McEntee published a notice announcing a further temporary extension of immigration and international protection permissions. This extension applies to immigration and international protection permissions to reside in the State that are due to expire between 21st April 2021 and 20th September 2021.

It applies to all persons with a current valid permission, whether pursuant to domestic law or powers of the Minister, or pursuant to Directive 2004/38/EC (the EU Free Movement Directive).

All such permissions are automatically renewed by the Minister to the 20th of September 2021.

Any permission that was renewed by the previous notices and was due to expire between 21st April 2021 and 20th September 2021 is automatically renewed by this notice until 20th September 2021.

The automatic renewal is on the same basis as the existing permission and the same conditions will continue to apply.

Announcing the measure, the Minister for Justice commented:

“As the COVID-19 situation continues to evolve, I want to reassure people whose immigration permissions are due to expire shortly that your legal status in the country will continue to be maintained. To do this, I am introducing a further automatic extension to 20 September 2021 for anyone already holding a valid permission.

“This extension will benefit those who cannot get an appointment to register or renew an existing permission. However, I encourage anyone who can renew, particularly Dublin-based customers who can use the online system, to do so and not to wait until September.

The notice also confirms that the Registration Office in Burgh Quay remains closed due to Covid-19 restrictions. Persons who were issued with appointments for first time registrations will be contacted directly by the Immigration Service and they will be prioritised for appointments once the Public Office can safely reopen.

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.

MINISTER FOR JUSTICE ANNOUNCES CHANGES TO REQUIREMENTS FOR CHILDREN APPLYING FOR IRISH CITIZENSHIP

On 23rd March 2021, the Minister for Justice, Helen McEntee, announced that she will make it easier for children born here, whose parents are not Irish citizens and who are not entitled to citizenship at birth, to gain Irish citizenship themselves.

The current policy is that a child born in the State, but who is not entitled to citizenship by birth, needs to be resident in Ireland for five of the previous eight years before they can apply for citizenship.

Minister McEntee announced that she intends to reduce the residency requirements for such children from five years to three years.

These changes will be contained in the upcoming Civil Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2021, which is expected to be submitted to Government in the coming weeks.

Once this legislation comes into force, the number of years a minor must be resident in Ireland will now be two years out of the previous eight, in addition to the requirement to have one year’s continuous residence immediately prior to their citizenship application.

Announcing this step, the Minister for Justice commented:

“The granting of Irish citizenship is a privilege and an honour which is recognised by the thousands of people who apply every year. It is my hope that reducing the amount of time children of non-Irish nationals born in Ireland have to wait before being eligible for citizenship will provide comfort and reassurance to many families across the country.

 This amendment provides increased security for children where a parent subsequently falls out of permission as the child will be entitled to Irish citizenship and will therefore be an EU citizen with the right to remain in the State with a non-EEA national guardian or parent.

However, it will not broaden the categories of children who are entitled to citizenship and this amendment will only apply to the children of those parents who are legally resident in the State. Children born here to non-national parents who have three years prior residency will continue to be Irish citizens from birth.”

This is a welcome development which will allow children who are currently on a pathway to citizenship to attain this status at a much earlier stage.

The full announcement can be read here.

If you or a family member have any queries about applying for Irish citizenship, please contact our office.

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.

MINISTERS ANSWER PARLIAMENTARY QUESTIONS RELATING TO THE REGULARISATION OF UNDOCUMENTED MIGRANTS AND ACCESS TO COVID-19 VACCINES

The Minister for Health and the Minister for Justice have answered parliamentary questions relating to the regularisation scheme for undocumented migrants, and access for Covid-19 vaccines for the undocumented, respectively.

On Thursday 14th January 2021, Neale Richmond TD asked the Minister for Justice for an update on the promised scheme for undocumented persons to regularise their status in the State, and if undocumented residents in Ireland will receive assurances they will not be deported if they present to their local immigration office to regulate their status as suggested by her Department.

In response to this, Minister Helen McEntee stated as follows:

“I propose to take Questions Nos. 165 and 166 together.

The Programme for Government contains a commitment to bring forward a regularisation scheme within 18 months of the formation of the Government, to create new pathways for long-term undocumented people and their dependents, meeting specified criteria and bearing in mind Ireland’s European Union (EU) and Common Travel Area (CTA) commitments.

Currently there is no scheme for the undocumented in place but work is underway in my Department to give effect to this commitment.  This work is being informed by an assessment of international best practice and having regard to our EU and CTA commitments.  I intend to consult with relevant Government Departments, civil society and other interested parties, before finalising the Scheme, which I expect to be in a position to launch in the second half of this year.

In the meantime, I would encourage any person who is resident in the State without permission to contact my Department or their local immigration office and to take all appropriate steps to regularise their own and their family’s status.  In all cases, people must engage with the authorities if they wish to be permitted to remain here legally.

For those who are in the State illegally, a full consideration of all aspects of their case will be carried out before a decision is made to grant permission to remain in the State or to make a Deportation Order. This will include a consideration of their private and family life rights, in accordance with the European Convention on Human Rights.

The Immigration Service of my Department examines each case of undocumented or illegal persons in the State on a case by case basis and a pragmatic approach is taken in relation to each case which is considered on its individual merits.”

On Wednesday 20th January 2021, Holly Cairns TD put a parliamentary question to the Minister for Health relating to access to Covid-19 vaccines for undocumented migrants.

Deputy Holly Cairns asked the Minister for Health to clarify if undocumented persons living in Ireland will be able to access the Covid-19 vaccine, and to confirm that they will not be reported to the immigration authorities when accessing this service.

In response to these questions the Minister Stephen Donnelly stated as follows:

“The Irish COVID-19 Vaccination Programme is designed to ensure the safe, effective, and efficient administration of a COVID-19 vaccine to all residents of Ireland who are indicated within the Vaccine Allocation strategy and wish to receive it.

The HSE has identified undocumented migrants as a higher risk group for COVID-19. There is a community assessment hub located in Dublin city centre specifically for such groups. The HSE has provided additional health supports for undocumented migrants (e.g., GP service in Capuchin Centre). A similar targeted approach will apply in terms of the COVID-19 vaccination programme.

The HSE does not report undocumented migrants to immigration authorities.

It is important that undocumented migrants are encouraged and facilitated to take-up the Covid-19 vaccine.”

We at Berkeley Solicitors welcome the news that the promised scheme for undocumented migrants will be launched later this year, as well as the assurances that undocumented migrants will be able to access Covid-19 vaccines when they become available.

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

SCHEME TO REGULARISE STATUS OF UNDOCUMENTED MIGRANTS IN IRELAND CURRENTLY UNDER CONSIDERATION

On 6th December 2020, the Irish Times reported that a scheme to give undocumented migrants residency rights in the State is currently under consideration by the Minister for Justice.

The government has committed to the introduction of such a scheme within the first 18 months in office.

The new scheme is expected to provide a pathway for approximately 17,000 undocumented migrants to apply for lawful residence in the State.

The Minister for Justice stated that this figure included about 3,000 undocumented children, many of whom were born here and have lived all their lives in Ireland.

A policy document setting out a framework for the regularisation of status is likely to be published in the new year.

At present there are no further details on the scheme, though the Irish Times reported that part of the process will include Garda vetting, and that residency will be available to those who are considered to be no threat to the State.

The article can be read in full here.

Please be aware that the scheme is only under consideration at the moment, and no such scheme exists at present so therefore no new application process is currently available.

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

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

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.

DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE ANNOUNCES FURTHER RESUMPTION OF VISA SERVICES

On 25th September 2020, the Department of Justice published an announcement on its website confirming that it has recommenced issuing decisions for certain visa categories.

Due to Covid-19, the Department had been issuing decisions in respect of the Emergency/Priority categories of visas only.

The announcement states as follows:

“We can now confirm that we have also recommenced issuing decisions on certain long-stay visas which include categories such as Third level study at primary degree and postgraduate level, Employment and Join Family.

You should note that while we continue to accept applications for English Languages studies, decisions on applications from new students will remain on hold pending further consideration by the relevant authorities.”

It remains the position that we are not accepting any short stay visa applications, except for cases that fall under the Emergency/Priority criteria.”

The Department further announced that it has expanded the list of exemptions which fall under Emergency/Priority to include those specific categories of travellers, identified as having an essential function or need in the EU Council Recommendation (EU) 2020/912 of 30 June 2020.

The full notice can be read here.