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Waiting time for asylum seekers to seek permission to work reduced by three months

Asylum seekers will need to wait six months instead of nine before they can apply for permission to work in Ireland.

A Direct Provision centre in Clondalkin
A Direct Provision centre in Clondalkin
Image: Sam Boal/Rollingnews.ie

ASYLUM SEEKERS WILL be able to seek work six months after they apply for protection instead of nine under new measures from the Department of Justice.

People in Ireland seeking international protection, who previously had to wait nine months after their protection application before applying for permission to work, will now be able to apply for work permission after six months in a short reduction of the waiting time.

Additionally, permission given to work is being extended from six months to a year.

Asylum seekers were not widely allowed to work in Ireland until 2018, when new regulations came into effect that allowed them to take up work, except in the civil service, the Defence Forces, or An Garda Síochána.

The change in the rules came a year after the Supreme Court found the ban on seeking work was unconstitutional.

The measures announced today will allow people who have applied for asylum in Ireland to apply for permission to work after six months instead of nine, and if successful, to hold that permission to work for a year instead of six months.

Asylum seekers who were refused work permission in the last three months because not enough time had passed since their application for international protection can make a new application under the changed guidelines.

The Movement of Asylum Seekers in Ireland said that it is “appalled” by the decision to only reduce the waiting time.

“There is no plausible justification for keeping people out of work,” MASI said.

“In May last year, Catherine Day who chaired the advisory group that was reviewing Ireland’s asylum reception system recommended that asylum seekers be allowed to work within three months from the date of applying for protection in Ireland,” the group said.

“Considering that the announcement is far from what the government’s expert group recommended and the government’s own commitment in the programme for government, it is a betrayal of trust.”

Similarly, Nasc, a migrant and refugee rights group based in Cork, said that it hoped the move was an interim measure ahead of further reductions.

Speaking to TheJournal.ie, Nasc CEO Fiona Finn said that the group “welcomes the reduction in waiting times” and hopes “that this is an interim measure and the upcoming White Paper sets out a plan to further reduce the waiting period to the three months recommended by the Day Report”.

“There have been a lot of discussions about proposed improvements to the protection process of late and it’s really important that people who are in the international protection process can see some tangible change,” Finn said.

“In line with the Day Report, we would also strongly encourage the Minister to re-examine the situation of people who were excluded from the right to work in 2018.”

It feels deeply unfair that those who have spent the longest period of time in our protection process are unable to access the right to work.” 

The Day report, which was published in October, made a range of recommendations on Ireland’s system for processing asylum applications, including that Direct Provision should be ended and replaced by 2023.

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The report recommended that asylum seekers should have permission to work available within three months of applying for protection in Ireland.

Minister for Justice Helen McEntee said that allowing asylum seekers to work has “had a very positive impact for international protection applicants and employers”.

McEntee said that “to date, 6,006 permissions to access the labour market have been issued, including 4,569 permissions to Direct Provision residents”.

“Giving eligible applicants the opportunity to work earlier, and extending their permission to work to 12 months, will help even more people to integrate into Irish society while providing for themselves and their families outside of the State’s directly provided services and supports,” she said.

“It also helps people to plan and prepare for their future if they receive a positive decision on their application for international protection.”

The changes are in place for applications received on or after 18 January.

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