A Guide to Seeking Asylum in Ireland

What is asylum seeking?

An asylum seeker is someone who has fled their home in order to obtain safety in another country. Asylum seekers look for refuge, having fled unsafe and dangerous conditions in their home country.


What is the difference between an asylum seeker and a refugee?

Whilst the terms ‘asylum seeker’ and ‘refugee’ are often used interchangeably, they are different. An asylum seeker is a person who has fled their country and is seeking protection and safety in another country, this could be due to anything from war to human rights violations.


On the other hand, an asylum seeker is awaiting a decision regarding their asylum claim. The right to be recognised as a refugee is determined by law following an asylum claim. A refugee, therefore, is someone whose claim to asylum has been legally recognised.


Who is eligible to seek asylum?

Anyone can apply for asylum in Ireland. However, decisions to grant asylum are made in accordance with the Geneva Convention. According to the Geneva Convention, you can be considered for asylum due to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular group, or political opinion in your home country.


Those who do not meet the criteria of the Geneva convention may be given subsidiary protection status. Subsidiary protection status is given to those who believe they face a real risk of harm and are unable to seek protection from their home country.


For those who do not qualify for refugee or subsidiary protection, it is possible to be granted permission to remain. Permission to remain is granted at the discretion of the Minister of Justice and Equality based on compelling reason or humanitarian grounds. Whilst the three categories of status are different, they all entitle you to many of the same rights as an Irish citizen.


What is the asylum-seeking process?

Following the protocol of the Geneva Convention, it is the responsibility of the Irish State and the Department of Justice to receive and review asylum applications. The asylum-seeking process in Ireland is as follows:


To claim asylum in Ireland you must already be in the state and must submit an application to the International Protection Office (IPO).


You must take part in a preliminary interview with an IPO officer. During this interview, you will be asked about:


  • Your identity
  • Your country of origin
  • The reasons why you cannot return to your home country
  • Your immigration history and how you came to Ireland
  • You will also have your fingerprints and photograph taken by the IPO officer


If the IPO decides that it cannot accept your application, you will be given the reasons for the decision in writing. You can appeal this decision in writing to the International Protection Appeal Tribunal (IPAT), however, this must be done within 10 working days of the date of the notification of refusal. An extension to the 10-day limit can only be granted if there is a valid reason for the delay.


If the IPO accepts your application, you will be eligible to remain in Ireland whilst it is being processed. You will be required to provide documents and evidence to support your application. If you are unsure of what evidence to provide, it is important to contact Immigration Solicitors in Dublin. You will also receive a Temporary Registration Certificate, which is proof of your application for asylum in Ireland.


A personal interview will be conducted by an IPO case worker. Prior to your interview, you are eligible to request an interpreter. The interview can be quite distressing, but it is important that you make sure the IPO case worker reads back to you any information noted so you can check it for accuracy. Whilst you are eligible to have a solicitor with you, they will not be able to answer questions on your behalf.


If you are unable to attend your interview appointment, you must inform the IPO as soon as possible, alongside any evidence of the reason for your inability to attend:


  1. Recommendation from the IPO, otherwise known as a first instance decision. It will recommend which status you should be declared as. It is possible to appeal this decision to the IPAT. This recommendation will then be referred to the Ministerial Decisions Unit.
  2. A decision from the Ministerial Decisions Unit. Usually, the Ministerial Decisions Unit follows the recommendation of the IPO. If you have been granted immigration status in Ireland following this decision you must then register with your local immigration office.


How do people seeking asylum live in Ireland?

The International Protection Accommodation Service will offer you somewhere to live, this is called ‘direct provision’.


Can people seeking asylum work?

Whilst awaiting an asylum decision, you are not permitted to work or open a business. However, if the IPO has not decided on your application within a five-month period, you can apply for permission to work.


Can children seeking asylum go to school?

In Ireland, children are required to remain in education until the age of 16. Children seeking asylum can attend school. Immigration status must be awarded in order to attend any higher education institutes.


How long does asylum-seeking take?

The asylum process can be lengthy, and whilst many cases are assessed within six months, the process can take years to complete. There is no concrete time frame for the process. Immigration law is extremely complex and at times can seem a little overwhelming. This is why it is important to consult an immigration lawyer to ensure that you have everything you need for your application to process as smoothly as possible.


McGinley Solicitors LLP have immigration solicitors in Dublin and Donegal, we pride ourselves on our expertise, professionalism, and empathy when dealing with each case. Contact us for more information regarding help with your immigration status application.

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