Tag Archive for: Minister of Justice

Clients of Berkeley Solicitors win their judicial review case before the High Court in N.I. V MJE 2022 / 442 /JR

Clients of Berkeley Solicitors win their judicial review case before the High Court in N.I. V MJE 2022 / 442 /JR

Berkeley Solicitors would like to congratulate our clients who have received a positive judgement from the High Court today in their Judicial review proceedings.

The applicant, a minor Somali citizen, issued proceedings through her aunt and next friend challenging a decision of the Minister for Justice to refuse the her visa appeal to join her aunt and family in Ireland following the death of both her parents in Somalia.

We argued on behalf of our clients that the Minister acted in breach of fair procedures on a number of grounds. In refusing to grant the visa, it was submitted that the Minister failed to fully consider the best interests of the applicant in light of her particularly vulnerable position as a 14-year-old orphan residing outside her country of origin, without familial support.

It was submitted by the Respondent that the Applicant had failed to show sufficient evidence of a familial link between the applicant and the sponsor. Furthermore, it was submitted that the sponsor did not prove that she ‘is, or ever had been, socially or financially dependent on the sponsor’. The Minister also considered that the adoption of the Applicant was not recognisable under Irish law in light of the fact that there is no bilateral treaty in existence between Ireland and Somalia governing adoptions and similarly, that Somalia is not a party to the Hague Convention.

As a result, the Minister held that neither Article 41 of the Constitution nor Article 8 of the ECHR protecting the right to family life were applicable to the Applicant and the sponsor.
In setting aside the decision of the Minister, Mr Justice Barr held that the decision maker erred on a number of grounds in failing to recognise that a 14-year old orphan, ‘without any family support in a very unstable country, was not in an extremely vulnerable position, such that it constituted exceptional circumstances’.

Acknowledging the importance of family reunification in situations where individuals had fled persecution, Justice Barr held the Respondent was wrong in concluding that ‘there was no documentary evidence of familial relationship between the applicant and sponsor’. It was accepted that a number of important documents to this effect had been submitted by the Applicant, including a court order transferring guardianship of the application to the sponsor.

Furthermore, the emphasis placed by the decision maker on the issue of adoption as a basis for refusal, ‘an argument that was never put forward by the applicant, nor was put to her for comment’, was held to have breached the applicants right to fair procedure, rendering the decision ‘fatally flawed’.

Referring to the case of Tanda-Muzinga v France (2260/2010), the following passage was highlighted by the Court:
‘there exists a consensus at international and European level on the need for refugees to benefit from a family reunification procedure that is more favourable than that foreseen for other aliens, as evidenced by the remit and the activities of the UNHCR and the standards set out in Directive 2003/86 EC of the European Union’.

It was highlighted by the Court that this obligation is envisioned under Irish law in s.56 of the International Protection Act, 2015. Similarly, in line with our duties under Article 10.1 of the Convention of the Rights of the Child, that ‘applications by a child or his or her parents to enter or leave a State Party for the purpose of family reunification shall be dealt with by States Parties in a positive, humane and expeditious manner’.

Significantly, it was held that the Appeals officer hadn’t sufficiently considered ‘the extremely adverse consequences’ the refusal decision represented for the applicant. As a result, the Court held that the decision clearly constituted ‘exceptional circumstances of a humanitarian nature, which would have justified a departure from the financial requirements of the policy’.
The Judgement will be available on the High Court webpage in the coming days.

Our office wishes to congratulate our clients on this positive development in their case today and would also like to thank our counsel for their dedicated work on this case.



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.



On 23rd May 2022, the Department of Justice published on their website a “Notice for Employers- May 2022”

The notice relates to the Covid-19 temporary extensions of immigration permissions set to expire on the 31st May 2022. This temporary permission extension covers persons who have had their permission extended by any of the previous eight temporary extensions since March 2020. You can find our previous blog post regarding this extension here.

The Department of Justice has announced that there are no plans to issue an extension beyond the 31st May 2022 but states that those covered by the extension are entitled to remain, reside and work in the State if their permission previously granted permitted them to do so.

We submit that the notice of the 23rd May 2022 is problematic for a number of reasons.

A non-EEA national is required under Section 5 of the Immigration Act 2004 to hold a permission from the Minister to reside in the State. Immigration permission is generally held by an individual by virtue of a permission letter from the Minister for Justice accompanied by a certificate of registration in the form of an IRP card. In some instances, a person does not hold a permission letter and the permission comes directly from the registration certificate (IRP card).

By virtue of Section 9 of the Immigration Act 2004 Non-EEA nationals are also required to register their immigration permission and the Minister is obliged to facilitate this registration.

In many instances, persons whose permission will expire on 31st May 2022 do not have a current permission letter and are not registered as they have been relying or have had to rely on the Minister’s Covid 19 extensions of permission and therefore they will not be the holder of a valid immigration permission in the State from 31st May 2022 onwards.

The Minister’s notice further states: those covered by the extension are entitled to remain, reside and work in the State if their permission previously granted permitted them to do so..

…If your employee’s IRP card has expired and they are unable to obtain a valid registration card by 31 May 2022, they are still legally permitted to remain in the State provided they show proof that they have applied to renew their registration and are waiting for it to be processed.

We submit that this notice is not sufficient to deal with the major issue that a large number of persons are in fact going to fall undocumented on 31st May 2022 as they will now be without either a permission letter or an IRP card.

We would argue that all non-EEA nationals should be provided with a permission letter and or an IRP card to evidence their residence permission in the State and that persons should not be required to rely on this notice only as evidence of their legal residence. We submit that the Minister should extend the covid 19 extension of permission until the registration office is in a position to issue IRP cards in a timely and efficient manner.

The notice itself recognises the delay in the processing of registration applications and issuance of IRP cards:

“Please note that, in relation to renewals in the Dublin area, ISD is experiencing a very large volume of applications. The current processing time to renew a permission is 10 weeks. It can then take a further two weeks to receive a new IRP card.

We submit that the Minister is not complying with her obligations under Section 9 of the Immigration act 2004 in publishing a general notice rather than facilitating registrations and issuing IRP cards as required. We submit that the Minister should at minimum clarify that all permissions will be backdated to the date of application for renewal/ registration.

The notice has directed that those who hold employment permits must check with employment permits division of the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment regarding the issuing of a new or renewed employment permit.

It appears that the Minister’s notice on the ISD webpage is also at odds with the published policy on the website of the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment’s website which states:

“An employment permit is not a Residence Permission. In order to be lawfully resident in the State, it is a requirement that all non-EEA nationals in possession of an employment permit must register with the Garda National Immigration Bureau. It is in the best interest of the persons concerned to register as soon as possible following arrival. Delay in registering with Garda National Immigration Bureau could affect applications in the granting of long-term residency and/or citizenship. Immigration permission to remain should, where applicable, be renewed at least one month before the expiry date in order to avoid unlawful presence in the State.”

The current position is of particular concern to visas required nationals. Non-EEA nationals resident in Ireland are required to produce a valid IRP card to re-enter the State after travel. This means that those who are unable to secure an IRP card before the 31st May 2022 will be unable to leave the State until they have acquired a renewed IRP card. There is currently no system for processing re-entry visas for adults in the State since it was abolished in 2019 and therefore this would not be an alternative avenue visa required nationals could pursue should they be required to leave the State.   We submit that if the Minister is not in a position to issue IRP cards in a timely manner the re-entry visa system should now be re-opened to persons in this position.

We submit that the current position the Minister has adopted will also negatively impact those who are intending to apply for naturalisation.  A person’s reckonable residence is calculated from their permission letter and/or the date of their registration as reflected on their IRP card, in absence of either of these documents it appears affected persons are now set to lose out on reckonable residence for the period of time it takes to obtain their renewed IRP card. We expect this issue will cause complications for persons trying to meet the inflexible statutory requirements of reckonable residency under Section 16A of the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 1956 (as amended) which requires a 12 month period of continuous residence prior to the date of application. Thus a gap in registration will prevent many non nationals from applying for naturalization within the following 12 month period. We submit this is not an acceptable position.


Berkeley Solicitors has written to the Minister to outline our concerns.  We have submitted that the Covid-19 extension of permissions should be continued until the backlog in registrations is dealt with or that at a minimum the Minister’s notice should be amended to address the above issues, to include:

  • The immigration permission of any individual who is covered by notice is extended up until the date they receive their renewed IRP card;
  • The immigration permission of any individual who is covered by notice will be backdated to the date of application for registration and their IRP card will reflect this;
  • The re-entry visa system will be reopened for visa required nationals who need to travel whilst their registration application is being processed;
  • Persons covered by this notice should receive a letter/ confirmation their immigration permission from 31st May 2022 until the issuance of their new IRP card is reckonable for an application for naturalization.

The full notice can be found here:


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.