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‘Once-in-a-generation’ scheme for migrants

03 Dec 2021 / justice Print

‘Once-in-a-generation’ scheme for migrants to regularise status

The Minister for Justice Helen McEntee has announced plans for what is being described as a ‘once-in-a-generation' scheme aimed at regularising the position of undocumented migrants in Ireland.

The scheme will open online in January, with applications accepted during a six-month window.

Applicants must have a period of four years of undocumented residence in the State, or three years in the case of those with children.

Those who are successful will receive immigration permission, and access to the labour market, while they will also be able to begin a path to citizenship.

No reliable data

“Given that those who will benefit from this scheme currently live in the shadows, it is difficult to say how many will be eligible,” said the minister.

The Department of Justice says that there is no reliable data on the number of undocumented persons in the State, but studies suggest that the figure could be as high as 17,000 – including up to 3,000 children. Many of these people are believed to be in low-paid employment.

Minister McEntee said that the scheme would bring some “much-needed certainty and peace of mind” to thousands of people, who were already living here and making a valuable contribution to society and the economy.

She added that many of these people, due to their current immigration circumstances, might be reluctant to seek supports designed to help vulnerable people – such as medical assistance, or assistance from an Garda Síochána.

‘Good character’

Those who successfully apply under the scheme will be able to count their years of residence towards pursuing citizenship by way of naturalisation.

People with an existing deportation order can apply, while applicants must meet “standards regarding good character and criminal record/behaviour, and not pose a threat to the State”.

Those with expired student permissions will also be eligible.

The department says that convictions for minor offences will not, of itself, result in disqualification from the scheme.

Fees

The measures announced today (3 December) include a parallel process that will allow international-protection applicants who have an outstanding application for international protection, and have been in the asylum process for a minimum of two years, to apply.

This measure implements a recommendation included in the report of the Expert Advisory Group, led by Dr Catherine Day.

There will be fees of €550 for individual applications, and €700 for family units.

The strand of the scheme linked to international protection will, however, be exempt from fees.

Gazette Desk
Gazette.ie is the daily legal news site of the Law Society of Ireland