SOME asylum seekers across the country are not eligible for the Undocumented Scheme, which the Minister for Justice, Helen McEntee, announced in January.
The Kinsale Road Direct provision centre in Cork is currently occupied by 16 asylum seekers who are not eligible to apply.
The scheme means long-term undocumented people can have official access to the workforce.
Described as a “once in a generation” scheme, it is expected to benefit up to 17,000 people, including 3,000 children. Almost 5,000 applications have been made since the scheme opened.
Muhammad Husnain is an asylum seeker living in Kinsale Road direct provision centre for seven years. A year ago, he got his final refusal for his asylum claim and leave to remain in Ireland.
Speaking to The Echo Mr Husnain said he and his colleagues, who have similar situations, were thrilled when the Government announced the Undocumented Scheme.
“We were very happy, you know. So after a long time, there was some hope. Then, after that, when we read it in detail, and then I saw, like, there’s nothing for us.
“They should consider people who have been here for a long time. We should be a priority, but what they did is the opposite way, [a] person who just came two years ago is eligible, and a person who is almost seven years in a direct provision, they can’t apply.”
Mr Husnain said he was told that he doesn’t have any relationship with society in his refusal decision for his leave to remain application.
However, he said that he had been paying taxes for four years. In addition, he did much volunteering for local NGOs. He played sports for a club in Cork where he got awards, and he studied different courses in the further education college.
“I was shocked to see that sentence; I wonder what kind of relationship they are expecting from us”.
Nasc is a Cork-based NGO that works with migrants to realise and fulfil their rights. Fiona Finn of NASC told The Echo that the Undocumented Scheme is undoubtedly an incredible achievement, and it will change the lives of those who are eligible.
Over the past weeks, Nasc has been fielding calls from people in direct provision who will miss out on both strands of the scheme as they have a final decision on their asylum case but received that final decision less than three to four years ago.
Despite spending years in the process, they arrived too late to benefit from the Undocumented Scheme, and too early to have had the opportunity to benefit from the right to work or the broadening of access to further and higher education in Ireland. Some have children who were born in Ireland and are in school here.
“We’d urge the Minister to consider their situation carefully and sympathetically,” Ms Finn said.
The DOJ told The Echo it is ensuring the application process for the Regularisation of Long Term Undocumented Migrants Scheme and the separate international protection strand of the scheme is as fair and effective as possible.
‘’In line with the commitment in the Programme for Government, all applicants are required to meet criteria related to residency requirements,’’ DOJ spokesperson said.
The time spent in the international protection process is not considered undocumented. Each applicant is issued with a Temporary Residence Certificate for the time their application is being processed.
Anyone who does not meet the qualifying criteria for either scheme and has been issued with a deportation order may wish to seek legal advice on making an application to revoke their deportation order under Section 3(11) of the Immigration Act, 1999.
‘’Especially if there are changed circumstances since the deportation order against them was made’’, DOJ spokesperson added.