Immigrants in Ireland face “insecure and discretionary’ legal mechanisms when applying for permanent residency, according to a new report released on immigration integration.
The Immigrant Council of Ireland launched the MIPEX report last Wednesday. The report warned that Ireland had one of the most “insecure and discretionary” approaches to family reunification and permanent residency in comparison to other countries. However, the report ranked Ireland as the sixth best country out of 52 for immigrant integration.
Catherine Cosgrove, managing lawyer at the Immigrant Council of Ireland’s Independent Law Centre, said:
“The rights of [EU migrants] contrasts very significantly with the rights of migrants who are granted residence in Ireland under either employment permits, international study programmes, or who are granted residence permission in Ireland on an entirely discretionary basis, under various visas.”
She went on to say:
“While it is possible for individuals to apply for a change in immigration status, it is dependent on the facts of the individual case, and unless a person is eligible to avail of automatic upgrade of residence permission, which is only possible in the case of spouses or parents of Irish citizens, it’s necessary to make a written application.”
Ms Cosgrove explained that many of these applications take 12 months to process, and applicants are not provided with any temporary residency when they await a decision on their application.
“Acute difficulties” Accessing Services
Cosgrove said that the council’s Independent Law Centre had been inundated with calls from long-term residents in Ireland, who had “acute difficulties” accessing services, including social welfare, as a result of delays in residency permissions being granted.
Children and dependent family members of people resident in Ireland are also experiencing insecurity.
“There is no published guidance regarding the residence permission that will be granted to children when they are required to register at the age of 16. This gives rise to a lack of transparency and inconsistency within the overall Irish immigration system.”
Many migrant families living in Ireland have experienced serious difficulties in attempting to renew residency permissions in the State. Children, many of whom have lived in Ireland for many years, are struggling to access education and employment.
In a statement released in response to the report, the Department of Justice said:
“Applications for a change of immigration permission are processed as quickly as possible based on the order in which they are received. The majority of people that qualify for a higher permission due to a specific immigration scheme are upgraded at their local immigration office.
“Every immigration application is assessed individually on its own merits before a decision is made. Therefore it is not possible to say in general terms why one person will be granted a particular permission while another is granted a different permission.
“Depending on the type of immigration permission or change of status sought, it may be possible to have this decision reviewed. For example, if a person is refused a change of status at their local immigration office, they can write to the Immigration Service to seek the change of status. It is also open to any person with a valid immigration permission to make a further application at any time.
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