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Doras Statement on Planned Scheme for the Undocumented and Asylum Seekers

Migrant and refugee organisation Doras welcomes today’s announcement from the Minister for Justice that the scheme to regularise long-term undocumented migrants will open in January. We are also pleased with the decision to allow people who have an outstanding application for international protection and have been in the asylum process for a minimum of 2 years to apply, but await further details on exactly how this will be implemented.

Speaking after the announcement, Doras CEO John Lannon said

“It is good to see that many of the elements that we and others have been calling for have been included in the regularisation scheme. In particular, the fact tha refused applicants will have an opportunity to appeal the decision is positive. Successful applicants get a Stamp 4, which will give people unrestricted access to the labour market.”

“As the Minister noted, this will give peace of mind to thousands of people living in Ireland. Many undocumented people are very vulnerable because of their current immigration circumstances, and we look forward to helping them avail of the scheme in the New Year.

The scheme includes a parallel process to allow international protection applicants who have an outstanding application and have been in the asylum process for a minimum of 2 years to apply. This is a key recommendation of the Expert Advisory Group led by Dr Catherine Day, and is something that Doras and others have called for. In calling for it they have pointed out that such a measure is an essential component of the government’s commitment to end Direct Provision by the end of 2024.

John Lannon said

“We are delighted to see this initiative to clear the backlog of people currently in the protection system. This will release many people from the limbo situation they are living in at present. This will also help to address the chronic delays and to reduce processing times in the asylum system going forward. However, it would be preferable if international protection applicants who have been in the process for over two years were able to apply under the regularisation scheme without prejudice to their right to have their international protection claim processed to its conclusion. Without this, people may be unable to have their families reunited with them here in Ireland, as their leave to remain status may not afford them that opportunity.

“We also welcome the fact that there will not be an application fee for protection applicants. However, the fees for applicants to the main scheme are very high. There may be particularly vulnerable applicants who do not have the necessary funds or ways to raise such funds.  We would therefore like to see the Department allow for fee exceptions to be made on a case-by-case basis

Like many other NGOs that work with people and families who are in vulnerable immigration-related circumstances, Doras expects to be busy assisting with applications during the 6-month scheme.

“This will put additional strain on organisations like ours that are already operating on extremely tight budgets” said John Lannon. “We will do everything we can to help applicants who may not have the language or other skills needed, but the government needs to recognise that we are already at capacity. Any assistance they can give us will be gratefully received.”