The state of Ireland runs a voluntary return programme, whose intention is to help third-country nationals who wish to return to their home country voluntarily, but who do not have the means to do so independently. Every year the Irish Immigration Service opens up applications to companies that wish to offer their assistance in the process of returning of third-country nationals to their countries.
The programme can help applicants to obtain the necessary travel documentation as well as support them with the financial aspect of returning to their country of origin. A small reintegration grant is available for all returnees to aid their assimilation with education, professional training, or even business setup assistance.
The 2023 programme is now open and to get it off the ground the Immigration Service Delivery is again inviting applications from organisations and businesses that wish to support the process. The Asylum Migration and Integration Fund bears most of the responsibility for its funding. That makes it essential that assistant organisations adhere to and comply with their conditions.
What exactly is a third-country national?
A third-country national is a citizen of any state which is not a member of the EU, Iceland, Lichtenstein, Norway, or Switzerland. A third-country national could be a refugee, asylum seeker, or someone who has emigrated to live and work abroad for an extended period of time.
Due to the complexity of their situation, it is possible that third-country nationals may struggle to find stable work for extended periods of time. It is possible that when wanting to return to their home country, they may face struggles due to lack of finances or support and would consequently benefit from the voluntary return scheme as their only way back home.
What qualifies a person for the scheme?
There are several groups of people who may be eligible to apply for the scheme:
- Third-country nationals who are asylum seekers and wish to return home.
- Third-country nationals who have had their immigration application declined.
- Anybody who has been a victim of trafficking.
- Children who have been separated from their families.
Please note, in order to qualify for the scheme, a third-country national must not be in any danger should they return to their home country.
How can my business apply to assist the programme?
Applications to assist with the voluntary return of third-country nationals are available to download and must be submitted via post to the Irish Immigration Service. When applying to assist in the scheme, your business will have to complete an extensive application form in order to prove your suitability for the scheme.
The information that you will be required to provide will consist of the following:
1. Basic Information: The entity applying for funding, its legal status, and contact details.
2. Project Objectives: The name of the project and description should clearly indicate what the project aims to achieve. This has to be concise and also include details of any prospective target group which you would be aiming to help.
3. Project Administration: You would be required to specify the organisational structure of the project and provide the details of those involved. You would also be required to outline any organisational structures within the business that would potentially change due to the project.
4. Budget Breakdown: You would be required to allocate costs to the appropriate categories, all of which are set out in the application form. These include:
- Direct staffing costs
- Indirect staffing costs
- Direct project costs
- Travel and subsistence
Please note, you would be required to ensure all evidence of costs are present and that you have an adequate audit trail to support your application.
Staffing costs will also have to be supported by employment contracts, this includes any temporary or contract staff who have been brought on to assist with the project. There are stipulations with regard to the budget, the guidelines can be read here.
How do I know my business is suitable for the scheme?
There is a project selection process, in order to ensure your business is eligible for consideration you must ensure you adhere to the following:
- Submit the application on time.
- Meet the requirements for eligibility.
- Have the signature of an appropriate witness.
- Provide evidence of matching funding commitment.
If your business passes the initial check, it will then be put forward for a full assessment by a Selection Committee and will be assessed on the following:
Strength of proposal
- This includes the effectiveness of your proposal and of available services.
- Examples of clear, attainable, and measurable targets.
Capacity of applicant
- Evidence of previous work with migrants.
- Previous delivery of similar activities.
- Evidence of availability to effectively manage the project appropriately.
Efficiency and effectiveness
- Clear and well-structured budget.
- Realistic time frames.
- Readiness to undertake the project (awareness of necessary permits, etc).
When do applications close?
The programme will run from 1st January 2023 to 31st December 2023. The closing date for the current year’s programme was 5 pm on Thursday 15th December 2022 and unfortunately there is no availability for late additions.
The application dates for next year have not yet been announced yet. However, for those interested in applying, it is important to prepare your application well in advance. Consulting an immigration lawyer can help strengthen your application.
Here at McGinley Solicitors LLP, we have immigration solicitors based in both Dublin and Donegal. Our immigration solicitors have a wealth of experience regarding complicated immigration law and are more than equipped to assist you with your application.
If you are considering applying to assist with the voluntary return of third-country nationals in 2023 and beyond, please feel free to contact us. We will be able to assist with your application and provide you with the advice needed in order to successfully apply for the scheme.
Likewise, if you are a third-country national and you believe the scheme would be beneficial for you, we can also provide you with the legal expertise necessary to ensure this is the right decision for you.