The Migrant Rights Centre Ireland (MRCI) and Justice for the Undocumented (JFU) have campaigned for many years for a pathway to regularise the residency status of undocumented migrants living in Ireland. It is estimated that there could be 17,000 undocumented persons, including up to 3,000 children, that many are in employment, too often low paid employment, and not commensurate with their educational attainment.
On December 3rd, 2021 the Minister for Justice, Helen McEntee TD, announced that the Government has approved a scheme to regularise thousands of undocumented migrants and their families who are living in Ireland. The scheme will be for long-term undocumented migrants and their eligible dependents, where the specific criteria is met. It will enable eligible applicants to remain and reside in the State and to regularise their residency status.
The time-limited scheme will open for online applications in January 2022 and applications will be accepted for 6 months. Eligibility under the scheme include people who:
- have a period of 4 years residence in the State without an immigration permission, or 3 years in the case of those with children on the date the Scheme opens for applications.
- be granted an immigration permission that allows for unrestricted access to the labour market.
- have years of residence with that permission reckonable for the purposes of pursuing citizenship by way of naturalisation.
- Applicants must meet standards regarding good character and criminal record/behaviour and not pose a threat to the State.
- Having convictions for minor offences will not, of itself, result in disqualification.
- Those with an existing Deportation Order can apply if they meet the minimum undocumented residence requirement.
- People with expired student permissions will also be able to apply.
The Minister noted that the scheme was developed following a consultation process with key stakeholders including NGOs that work directly with people and families who are in vulnerable immigration-related circumstances, as well as inter-Departmental and operational stakeholders.
Amongst the Editorial Notes to the Minister’s press release it noted:
- A fee of €700 will generally apply to family unit applications to assist in recovering the cost of administration. Children up to 23 years, living with their parent(s), can be included in a family unit application. A fee of €550 will apply to individuals’ applications. The International Protection specific scheme strand would be fee exempt at both application stage and at registration
- As the scheme is largely aimed at those who may be economically and socially marginalised as a result of their undocumented status, there will be no requirement for applicants to demonstrate that they would not be a financial burden on the State
- This scheme will not create any new entitlements to family reunification. Those who are successful under this Scheme may be eligible at a future date under the Policy Document on Non-EEA Family Reunification
The MRCI have made a web page to help undocumented people safely apply for the scheme (linked here) If any person requires more information or assistance they can contact the MRCI through this form (linked here).