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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a current permission to reside in Ireland, whether they arrived illegally or whether their permission expired or was withdrawn years ago.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.

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.

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 COMMENTS ON REGULARISATION OF STATUS FOR UNDOCUMENTED MIGRANTS IN IRELAND

On 26th June 2020, the new coalition government of Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Green Party endorsed the Programme for Government, which contains a commitment to regularise the status of undocumented migrants in Ireland.

In response to a Parliamentary Question put to her on 14th July 2020, the Minister for Justice has announced that a policy paper on this matter is currently being drafted by officials in the Department of Justice.

The Minister stated:

“The Programme for Government contains a commitment to create new pathways for long-term undocumented people and their dependents meeting specified criteria to regularise their status within 18 months of the formation of the Government, bearing in mind European Union and Common Travel Area commitments. Ireland along with other Member States of the EU, has committed, under the European Pact on Immigration and Asylum (2008), to a case-by-case approach as opposed to mass regularisation.

A policy paper on the matter is being drafted by my officials at the present time. This will include an assessment of international best practices.

In all cases, people must engage with the authorities if they wish to be permitted to remain here legally. 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.”

At present there has been no final agreement on this scheme or how it would operate but the Government has committed to establishing such a scheme within the next 18-month period.

We at Berkeley Solicitors fully support the implementation of a scheme to regularise the status of undocumented migrants and will publish any future developments on this on our website.

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

Please be aware that no such scheme exists at present and no new application process is currently available.

POSSIBILITY OF GRANTING LEGAL STATUS TO UNDOCUMENTED MIGRANTS DISCUSSED AT GOVERNMENT TALKS

The Irish Independent has reported that a proposed scheme to regularise the status of undocumented migrants in Ireland has been discussed as part of Government formation talks between Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Green Party.

According to the article, published by the Irish Independent on 21st May 2020, the parties are in talks to establish a scheme that would allow undocumented migrants in Ireland to apply to regularise their status. The parties proposed that the criteria for such a scheme would be set out within 18 months of the new Government taking office.

At present there has been no final agreement on this scheme and any developments on this matter would be dependent on Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Green Party forming a coalition Government together.

It is estimated that there are currently 15,000-17,000 undocumented people living in Ireland, approximately 2,000 to 3,000 of whom are thought to be children. The Migrant Rights Centre Ireland (MRCI) states that 93% of undocumented migrants are in work, including as many as 29% who work as carers.  The Covid-19 pandemic has also highlighted that many undocumented migrants are employed as key essential workers, working in difficult and challenging situations to keep the country going during this ongoing crisis.

We at Berkeley Solicitors would fully support the implementation of a scheme to regularise the status of undocumented migrants and will publish any future developments on this on our website.

The full article can be read here.

If you or a family member have any queries about your immigration status, please contact our office.