NEW GUIDELINES ON family reunification applications in the immigration system have been published.
The Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence, Alan Shatter TD, said they are intended to “provide for greater transparency in the immigration decision making process”.
The Minister said that the purpose of the document is to “set out a comprehensive statement of Irish national immigration policy in the area of family reunification”.
More comprehensive and transparent guidelines are necessary to assist applicants and decision makers in this area, he added, saying:
It is important that those contemplating applying to come to Ireland for the purposes of family reunification do so under clearly stated guidelines.
He clarified that the guidelines don’t create new rights of family reunification. Instead, they provide greater detail “on how the Minister’s discretion is intended to be applied”.
It is intended that the new policies will start to inform decision making from the beginning of 2014. The department said that the various administrative changes and recommendations set out in the document will take longer to roll out. These changes will include a new pre-clearance process for those who are not visa required.
It is proposed to establish a central specialist family settlement unit to which all applications for reunification would be referred.
The document also looks at the issue of parentage of an Irish citizen child, and reunification, and says that it is intended as a matter of general policy “to grant immigration permission where the parent can demonstrate that an active and continuous involvement in the citizen child’s life, providing real emotional and/or financial support”.
The Minister concluded:
The State must strike the correct balance between the understandable aspiration of people to come here to join their families and the economic and social interests of the State in general.
The document is available on the Department’s website.
Ireland’s family reunification policy has been criticised by the Migrant Integration Policy Index, which said that it is the worst such policy in Europe or North America.
The Immigrant Council of Ireland has said it hopes that 2014 will see the introduction of legislation eliminating Ministerial discretion in applications for visas.