Cork centre welcomes 'transformative' migrant residency scheme

Minister Helen McEntee yesterday announced details of the scheme, which is a key part of the Justice Plan 2021.
Cork centre welcomes 'transformative' migrant residency scheme

Fiona Finn, CEO of NASC said that the announcement will bring “equal measures of joy and relief to individuals and families across Ireland who have been living in the shadows for years”. Picture: Dan Linehan

Cork-based migrant and refugee rights centre, Nasc, has welcomed the Minister for Justice’s announcement of a scheme to allow eligible undocumented migrants to remain and reside in the State and regularise their residency status.

Minister Helen McEntee yesterday announced details of the scheme, which is a key part of the Justice Plan 2021.

It is aimed at long-term undocumented migrants and their eligible dependents, where specific criteria are met.

People who are eligible under the scheme will have a period of four years’ residence in the State without immigration permission, or three years in the case of those with children, on the date the scheme opens for applications; be granted immigration permission that allows for unrestricted access to the labour market; and have years of residence with that permission reckonable for the purposes of pursuing citizenship by way of naturalisation.

Those subject to an existing deportation order can apply if they meet the minimum undocumented residence requirements and applicants must meet standards regarding good character and regarding criminal record/behaviour.

CEO of Nasc, Fiona Finn, said that the announcement will bring “equal measures of joy and relief to individuals and families across Ireland who have been living in the shadows for years”.

Ms Finn said: “This scheme will have a transformative impact on the lives of undocumented families who will finally be able to take their full place in society.”

Minister McEntee said she is “delighted” that the Government has approved her proposal for this “momentous, once-in-a-generation scheme”.

“Given that those who will benefit from this scheme currently live in the shadows, it is difficult to say how many will be eligible, but we are opening this scheme for six months from January to allow people come forward and regularise their status.

“It will bring some much-needed certainty and peace of mind to thousands of people who are already living here and making a valuable contribution to our society and the economy, many of whom may be very vulnerable due to their current immigration circumstances,” she said.

The scheme will include a parallel process to implement the recommendation included in the report of the Expert Advisory Group, led by Dr Catherine Day, by allowing international protection applicants who have an outstanding application for international protection and have been in the asylum process for a minimum of two years to apply.

Ms Finn welcomed the implementation of the recommendation and said that it is the one issue that residents in direct provision keep raising when the centre speaks with them.

“It’s very positive that the Minister is announcing this with a lead-in time of several weeks and that the schemes will remain open for six months. This will allow people to try and get their own documents together and get advice on how to make the application.

"We must also credit the Minister for Justice for ensuring that there is a built-in appeals process. This is something that is often overlooked and we are really pleased to see in place here,” she said.

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