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Minister for Justice Helen McEntee Eamonn Farrell/

Regularisation scheme for undocumented immigrants opens today

For the next six months, people living in Ireland without documentation will be able to apply for permission to stay here.

UNDOCUMENTED IMMIGRANTS IN Ireland and their families will be able to apply for permission to reside in Ireland from today for the next six months.

The “once-in-a-generation” scheme is open to people who have been living here for at least four years without documentation, or three years if they have minor children.

Applicants will have to meet specific criteria. Spouses, civil partners or de facto partners and eligible children aged 18 to 23 years of the primary applicant are also eligible.

Successful applicants will be granted immigration permission and have their residency status regularised, meaning they have full access to the labour market in Ireland.

From there, they will be able to pursue Irish citizenship by naturalisation.

Online applications for the scheme will be accepted from 10:00am today for six months until 31 July, when the scheme will close. Applications can be made online.

In a press statement, Minister for Justice Helen McEntee said: “I am delighted to now be able to open the once-in-a-generation scheme for long-term undocumented migrants and their family members living in Ireland. 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,” McEntee said. “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.”

It is believed there could be as many as 17,000 undocumented immigrants in Ireland, including as many as 3,000 children, though there is no reliable data.

Family applications will incur a €700 fee to cover the cost of administration. Individuals will be charged €550.

Successful adult applicants will have to pay a further €300 when registering at their local immigration office.

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.

A specific scheme for asylum seekers be fee exempt at both application stage and at registration.

Those with an existing deportation order can apply, if they meet the minimum undocumented residence requirement.

Applicants must meet certain standards concerning good character and criminal records or behaviour and “not pose a threat to the State”. Having convictions for minor offences will not, by itself, result in disqualification.

People with expired student permissions will also be able to apply, if they meet the minimum undocumented residence requirement.

McEntee added: “People who are in an undocumented situation are burdened with a great deal of stress and uncertainty regarding their position in society. 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 during the six month application window,” 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.”

Further details regarding the qualifying criteria, the required documentation, and how to apply for the scheme are available on the Department’s immigration website.

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