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High Court allows immigrants to challenge Minister over 'undue delays'

A Pakistani woman and an Iraqi man have been waiting years to hear decisions on their applications for residency and citizenship.

A PAKISTANI WOMAN and an Iraqi man have been given leave by the High Court to apply for judicial reviews of the State’s failure to decide on their applications for residency and citizenship in a timely manner.

The two clients of the Immigration Council of Ireland have been waiting for a decision on their citizenship and residency permits for longer than is allowed for under EU law.

In the case of the Iraqi man, the Minister for Justice and Equality has delayed the citizenship process for longer than four years. Mr Al Ansary fled Iraq in 2003 and was granted refugee status in Ireland the following year. In March 2008 he applied to the Minister for naturalisation.

Four years and two months later, he still awaits a decision. The Immigrant Council of Ireland (ICI) claims that his application is not being processed in the “normal way” as in 2008, there was usually an average 23-month waiting time.

He has never been contacted for further information in the intervening period, the ICI added.

Hikka Becker, senior solicitor with the group, said her client has been “left with no alternative but to issue legal proceedings in order to attempt to force the Minister to make a decision on his application”.

In the second case heard today, the court was told that the Minister has failed to decide whether to grant a residence permit to a Pakistani women who fled from her EU national husband in Ireland due to domestic violence. She now wishes to stay here on an independent basis.

Ms Iftikhar, a mother-of-two, has been a resident of Ireland since 2007 following her marriage to a Belgian national working in the country. One of her children is an Irish citizen. She is currently in employment and is legally resident under permissions which are due to expire on 16 June.

“The case of the Pakistani woman again highlights the need to grant independent residence permits to victims of domestic violence and to make decisions on their applications within the timeframe [of six months] specified under EU law,” said a lawyer for Iftikhar.

Becker said that in bringing both the cases before the High Court, the ICI is looking for order compelling Shatter to make decisions. She believes the court’s decision to allow judicial reviews in both cases will pave the way for similar challenges over such “undue delays”.

There are currently more cases before the High Court challenging administrative delay in these types of immigration and citizenship cases. In December 2011, the High Court ruled that a delay of three years and nine months in processing a naturalisation application was excessive.

More: Immigrants bear brunt of recession job losses, study shows>

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