Family reunification is a core component of Doras’ work and it is a crucial element of refugee rights under the international protection system.
Doras advocates for a less-restrictive policy regarding refugee family reunification rights. Prior to the introduction of the new International Protection Act, Doras – along with our partners in the Irish Refugee Council, Migrant Rights Centre of Ireland and Nasc – called for family reunification rights to be extended and ultimately called for the Bill to be withdrawn (Read our joint press statement here).
The International Protection Act (2015) came into effect on 31st December 2016. The procedure and statutory framework for the assessment of applications for family reunification for recognised refugees has regrettably been restricted as a result of this new legislation
[More information on the International Protection Act].
In 2017, the International Protection (Family Reunification) (Amendment) Bill was introduced to the Seanad as a Private Members Bill by Senator Colette Kelleher and the Civil Engagement Group. The Bill proposes an amendment to the International Protection Act 2015 in order to return to the provisions in the Refugee Act 1996.
The Irish Refugee Council, Nasc and Oxfam Ireland have been campaigning in support of these efforts and produced research report to illustrate the family reunification experiences of people living in Ireland.
In December 2018, the Bill was passed by 78 votes in favour and it will now progress to Justice Committee stage.
FAQs – FAMILY REUNIFICATION APPLICATION PROCESS
WHO CAN APPLY FOR FAMILY REUNIFICATION APPLICANTS?
- Convention Refugee (came through asylum system in Ireland) or Programme Refugee (refugee Resettlement programme);
- Beneficiary of Subsidiary Protection;
- People granted permission to remain can also apply but they do not have a right to family reunification.[There is no legal definition as to who is a member of the family for people with permission to remain but it is likely that a similar categorisation, to that of a person with refugee status or subsidiary protection, would be applied].
WHICH FAMILY MEMBERS ARE ELIGLE FOR FAMILY REUNIFICATION UNDER THE IP ACT 2015?
Section 56 defines a member of the family as the Sponsors:
- Spouse – you must have been married before the date you made an application for asylum/ international protection in Ireland.
- Civil partner – your civil partnership must have taken place before the date you made an application for asylum/ international protection in Ireland.
- If you are aged under 18 and are not married on the date you make an application for family reunification in Ireland, you can apply for your Parent(s) and their children (under 18 and not married).
- Child/ children who are aged under 18 years and not married when you make an application for family reunification in the Ireland.
HOW LONG WILL A FAMILY MEMBER’S PERMISSION LAST?
Family members will be given permission to enter and/or reside in the State for not less than one year, provided the sponsor’s permission is in force and the sponsor is entitled to remain in the State.
IS THERE A TIME LIMIT FOR MAKING AN APPLICATION FOR FAMILY REUNIFICATION UNDER THE IP ACT 2015?
Yes. You must make your application within 12 months of being granted a refugee declaration, a subsidiary protection declaration or from the date of your arrival in Ireland as a Programme Refugee. For example, if your date of your arrival in Ireland as a Programme Refugee is 2nd June 2017, The Minister must have received your application on or before 1st June 2018.
Full details are available at INIS website.