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Ireland: Regularisation scheme for undocumented migrants

Ireland's Minister for Justice, Helen McEntee TD, has announced a draft proposal for a scheme to regularise undocumented migrants in Ireland. It is estimated that this scheme will benefit up to 20 000 people.

The final terms of the scheme are subject to an ongoing consultation process, but the Minister’s initial proposals envisage that those who are eligible for 'regularisation' would:

  • have already been resident in Ireland for four years without immigration permission, or three years in the case of those with children;
  • be granted immigration permission that allows for unrestricted access to the labour market;
  • have years of residence with that permission, reckonable for the purposes of pursuing citizenship by way of naturalisation.

The scheme is expected to begin by the end of 2021, and will operate under the Executive powers of the Minister for Justice. It will be open for the receipt of applications for a period of approximately six months. During the assessment stage consideration will be given to the character and conduct of an individual.

News of the scheme was welcomed by the Migrant Rights Centre Ireland, which has been running the Justice for the Undocumented campaign for over two decades. The campaign recently published the results of a survey which found that 93% of undocumented migrants are currently working, and that more than three-quarters have been living in Ireland for more than five years. The survey also revealed a high level of labour exploitation of undocumented people, an issue that has been reported throughout the campaign. 

The issue of a regularisation scheme was included for the very first time on the political agenda during Ireland's general election in 2020. It also gained momentum thanks to the Born Here Belong Here campaign, which sought to secure access to citizenship for undocumented children.

The regularisation scheme will also strengthen efforts to tackle domestic violence: it has been reported that undocumented migrant women do not report violence to the Gardai (Irish Police) due to a fear of deportation.

Read more here.