Undocumented migrants can now apply for right to remain in the country

The scheme, which launched on Monday, could give thousands of undocumented people the right to stay in Ireland by the end of the year.

Minister for Justice Helen McEntee said the scheme will benefit thousands of people who live in Ireland and are part of communities (Niall Carson/PA)
Minister for Justice Helen McEntee said the scheme will benefit thousands of people who live in Ireland and are part of communities (Niall Carson/PA)

Thousands of undocumented migrants may have official permission to live in Ireland by the end of the year, as a scheme to regularise their status opens on Monday.

The scheme allows long-term undocumented people the opportunity to regularise their status, meaning they 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.

Over the next six months, individuals who are undocumented can apply to regularise their status in Ireland.

Minister for Justice, Helen McEntee, said it will benefit thousands of people who live in Ireland and are part of communities.

“Many of them are working and paying taxes, their children are in our schools, and are part of our community,” she added.

“We might not even know that they’re (here) in an undocumented way. But they have been living with a cloud hanging over them and this will allow them to apply to regularise their status and to get on with their lives.

“For many of them, they haven’t been able to return home to the countries that they’re from, they haven’t seen family in many, many years. I think this will open that up for them.”

Applicants will have to meet a particular set of criteria, including residing in Ireland for a four-year continuous period. However, the Fine Gael minister said that a period of 90 days has been built into the scheme that allows for an individual who left the state for a valid reason.

I do hope by the end of the year moving into next year, we'll start to see some of the first people getting their positive positions

Helen McEntee

Applicants with children will have to live in Ireland for three years, while asylum seekers will have to meet a two-year minimum period.

The scheme also accepts applications from people with expired student visas and those with pending deportation orders.

Ms McEntee said she hopes to have the applications finalised as soon as possible.

“I do hope by the end of the year moving into next year, we’ll start to see some of the first people getting their positive positions,” she told RTE Morning Ireland.

“We want to move through it as quickly as possible.

“There is an appeals process and it will be looked at by someone who hasn’t looked at their initial application.”

Ms McEntee added: “Every individual and their family will have to go through a vetting process.

“If it transpires that you have a serious criminal conviction or if there is a reason that the gardai have laid out, that you shouldn’t be successful, that will be taken into account.”

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