Not as many people apply for asylum in Ireland as in other countries on the European continent, partly due to its geographical location. Infomigrants looks at how the process in Ireland works.
Since Ireland is part of the European Union, it is subject to the framework of EU laws and regulations governing asylum procedures. But the decision on who will be granted asylum in Ireland is the responsibility of the Irish State and the Department of Justice. These decisions are made in accordance with the criteria set out in the Geneva Convention on Refugees.
Read more: http://www.unhcr.org/pages/49da0e466.html
The criteria in the refugee convention are focused on granting refugee status to people who fear persecution in their country of origin because of their race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership of a particular social group that puts them at risk, such as their gender, gender identity or sexual orientation. As a refugee you are allowed to remain in Ireland and have many of the same rights as an Irish citizen.
If you don’t qualify as a refugee because you do not meet the convention criteria, you may be given a status called subsidiary protection. This is for people who believe they would face a real risk of suffering serious harm if they return to their country of origin and who cannot get protection from their country of origin. This status would entitle you to many of the same rights as an Irish citizen.
A third category is called "Permission to Remain" and is granted for humanitarian or other reasons in situations where a person does not qualify for refugee status or subsidiary protection. This status also entitles you to many of the same rights as an Irish citizen.
What about EU law?
The Dublin III regulation was created so that countries in the EU could quickly establish who is responsible for determining an asylum application. Usually, the country responsible is the first EU country that the person arrived in.
The aim of the regulation is also supposed to stop people from lodging asylum claims in several countries at the same time. To facilitate the Dublin III regulation, there is a system called Eurodac, which takes fingerprints of asylum seekers and checks to see whether the same person has been fingerprinted in another European country.
So, if you apply for asylum in Ireland, but have already been fingerprinted in Italy, then you are liable to be sent back to Italy.
Asylum in Ireland
If you have not been registered as an asylum seeker in another European country, then you can apply for asylum in Ireland. The International Protection Office (IPO) is responsible for investigating applications for international protection. To claim asylum, you must be in Ireland and submit an application to the IPO: http://www.inis.gov.ie/en/INIS/Pages/apply-for-asylum
If you are detained by a police officer, you must state that you wish to apply for asylum and this will be arranged for you.
To officially register your application, you must go to an IPO office: http://www.ipo.gov.ie/
You will then be interviewed to confirm that you want to apply for asylum and asked to complete another application form. Interpreters are provided if needed. You will need to explain why you are seeking asylum. It is important to bring all your documentation to this meeting, such as passport, travel documents, travel tickets and anything else you think will help your case.
At the end of this interview, if it is found that you have a genuine claim, you will be given a Temporary Residence Certificate. This is proof that you have applied for asylum and allows you to stay in Ireland temporarily.
The Reception and Integration Agency (IRA) will arrange for you to get accommodation while your application is being processed. Other support services are also available, such as access to health care and education for children between the ages of six and 16. For more information about support services for asylum seekers, you can visit the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) website: http://www.inis.gov.ie/en/INIS/Pages/asylum-support
The next step is a longer, more detailed interview where you need to explain exactly how you were persecuted in your home country and why you are afraid to go back. If you do not attend this interview or provide an explanation within 3 days, your application may be refused.
After the second interview, the IPO makes a recommendation as to whether you application should be approved or not. Applications are usually decided within around 6 months, but in some cases in can take years.
If your application is successful a declaration is made by the Minister for Justice and Equality saying that you are entitled to protection.
If your application is refused, there is the option to appeal the decision. You can read about this process here: http://www.inis.gov.ie/en/INIS/Pages/asylum-decisions-appeals
Years in limbo
There has been harsh criticism that asylum seekers in Ireland have to wait far too long to find out whether their application has been successful or not. There are many cases where people are left in limbo for years on end, which can have a serious effect on their psychological and physical wellbeing.
Two of the main criticisms of the Irish system are that is does not allow asylum seekers to work or attend university. This means that people are stuck in a cycle of poverty with little chance of moving on with their lives. The Irish Times recently did a report on people in this situation, which you can read about here: https://www.irishtimes.com/news/lives-in-limbo