Immigrant Council submission: Scheme to Regularise Undocumented Migrants in Ireland
The Immigrant Council welcomed the spring 2021 announcement from the Department of Justice announcing a Scheme to Regularise Undocumented Migrants in Ireland as part of the Department’s Justice Action Plan to deliver a fair immigration system.
The Immigrant Council has been calling on the State to introduce such measures, having provided free immigration and legal advice to nearly 700 undocumented migrants since 2019 and understanding first-hand the massive challenges facing undocumented migrants in Ireland.
In its initial form, the proposed Scheme will be open to undocumented migrants 18 years or older who have resided in Ireland for 4 years or more without valid immigration permissions. Children living with an applicant will be eligible after residing in Ireland for 3 years or more. The Scheme will be open for a fixed period of 6 months, and provide easy access to the labour market for successful applicants and pathways to citizenship by naturalisation.
As part of the civil society consultation process informing the framework of the proposed Scheme, the Immigrant Council provided a submission to the Department of Justice on 17 May 2021 outlining several ways in which the proposed Scheme could be broadened to be applicable to more undocumented people and to streamline the process, making it as user-friendly as possible.
Summary of Immigrant Council submission:
- The Scheme should be as broad and inclusive as possible, including not only the proposed categories but also migrants who have been unsuccessful in seeking international protection, as well as migrants who have been issued deportation proposals.
- The Scheme should extend to both the main applicant and any family members/dependents up to 24 years old. It should also be open to undocumented minors without parental care with no minimum amount of residence in Ireland required.
- Once approved, applicants should be granted a 2 year, renewable Stamp 4 residence permission, with access to long-term residence permission after 5 years and eligibility to apply for citizenship by naturalisation.
- Successful applicants should be immediately able to work, including as self-employed.
- Application requirements should be flexible, recognising that many applicants will not have access to current identity documents such as passports or documents proving residence such as household bills. Applications by post should be accepted in addition to online. The online application system must be adequately designed, tested and resourced to be as user-friendly as possible.
- Guidelines around the ‘good character and conduct’ criteria should be clearly communicated and exclude any minor misdemeanours or convictions such as traffic offences.
- Applications that are refused should be permitted an appeal within 15 working days to give the applicant time to seek consultation externally.
- Information about the Scheme should be published in clear, user-friendly terms and be translated into multiple languages.
- Immigration Service Delivery must be properly resourced to ensure efficient processing of applications in a timely manner.