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McEntee confirms opening date for long-term undocumented scheme

The new scheme will see undocumented migrants get a chance to apply for citizenship.
Jan 13th 2022, 6:30 AM 38,581 39

JUSTICE MINISTER HELEN McEntee has today confirmed the opening date of 31 January for the long-term undocumented scheme.

The new scheme will see undocumented migrants get a chance to apply for citizenship. 

The Department of Justice said studies suggest there could be up to 17,000 undocumented people including up to 3,000 children and that many could be in employment, although likely low paid employment.

The new scheme will allow eligible applicants to remain and reside in the State and to regularise their residency status.

Announcing the eligibility criteria today, the minister said the scheme will open for online applications on 31 January for those who don’t have a current permission to reside in Ireland.

Applications will be accepted for six months until 31 July 2022. Primary applicants must have a period of four years undocumented residence in the State, or three years in the case of those with children

Successful applicants will receive immigration permission, access to the labour market and can begin path to citizenship.

A detailed policy paper outlining the exact criteria for the scheme has been published today in order to assist those making applications over the coming months.

The scheme will enable applicants, and their eligible dependents where the specific criteria is met, to remain and reside in the State and to regularise their residency status.

Fees

A fee of €700 will generally apply to family unit applications to assist in recovering the cost of administration.

Children up to 23 years, living with their parents, can be included in a family unit application. A fee of €550 will apply to individuals’ applications.

All successful applicants over the age of 18 will be required to pay a fee of €300 when they are registering their permission at their local immigration office.

0253 Undocumented migrants Minister for Justice Helen McEntee speaking to protestors outside Government Buildings last month before she announced a new landmark scheme to regularise long-term undocumented migrants.

Primary applicants who are eligible under the scheme will have a period of four years residence in the State without an immigration permission, or three years in the case of those with minor children, immediately prior to the date on which the scheme opens for applications.

Applicants are permitted to include a spouse, civil partner or defacto partner and eligible children aged 18 – 23 years who must have been living with the principal applicant for two years immediately prior to the date on which the scheme opens for applications.

They will be granted an immigration permission that allows for unrestricted access to the labour market and will have years of residence with that permission reckonable for the purposes of pursuing citizenship by way of naturalisation.

Those with an existing deportation order can apply, if they meet the minimum undocumented residence requirement, but applicants must meet standards regarding good character and criminal record/behaviour and not pose a threat to the State.

Having convictions for minor offences will not, of itself, result in disqualification.

People with expired student permissions can also apply, if they meet the minimum undocumented residence requirement.

Thousands of undocumented

McEntee said the scheme will regularise thousands of undocumented migrants and their families who are living in Ireland.

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“I am delighted to now be able to confirm that we are opening the once-in-a-generation scheme for long-term undocumented migrants and their family members living in Ireland on 31 January.

“I know the announcement of the scheme has been welcomed by those who have been contributing to our society for years but were seeking a way of regularising their status here in Ireland.

“I firmly believe this scheme will improve the lives of thousands of people across the country who contribute to our society, enrich our culture and work in our economy but unfortunately still live in the legal shadows,” she said.

“To assist people to begin preparing their applications, I am also publishing today the policy document for the scheme. This contains full details on the eligibility requirements and the documentary proofs required to support an application.

“People come to Ireland to make a better life for themselves and their families and they can find themselves undocumented for many reasons.

“This scheme will provide an opportunity for those who meet its criteria to remain and reside in the State and to become part of mainstream Irish society rather than living on its margins,” said the justice minister.

People who are in an undocumented situation are burdened with a great deal of stress and uncertainty regarding their position in society, said the minister.

“Unfortunately, they also may be more vulnerable to exploitation due to their precarious legal situation.

“In an effort to reach those migrant communities most likely to benefit from the scheme, my Department will engage in a targeted communications campaign prior to the opening date and during the six month application window,” she said.

She said the support of key organisations working directly with people and families who find themselves in these circumstances will also be crucial in encouraging people to come forward and participate in the scheme.

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Christina Finn

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