EMN Ireland publishes Annual Report on Migration and Asylum in Ireland 2022

28 Nov 2023

Today the European Migration Network (EMN) Ireland published its Annual Report on Migration and Asylum in Ireland 2022. With an overview of the latest data as well as policy and operational developments, research, and case law from 2022, this report is a comprehensive reference that gives an opportunity to view the entire migration landscape in Ireland.

The report shows that many forms of migration are recovering quickly from COVID-19 travel restrictions. It also shows that migration is being impacted by shortages in the labour market and the Russian invasion of Ukraine. As a result of these developments and others, Ireland saw a significant increase in immigration, with 141,600 people arriving in the year leading up to April 2023, according to CSO figures. This represents a 31% increase from the year to April 2022. However, emigration also increased, with 64,000 individuals leaving Ireland during the same period, marking a 14% increase from the previous year.

Here are the highlights from the 2022 report.

National Developments in 2022

The Government published the Third National Strategy on Domestic, Sexual and Gender-Based Violence in June 2022. The Strategy identifies groups, including migrants, undocumented migrants, refugees and international protection applicants, and victims of trafficking, that may require additional inclusion measures to address domestic, sexual and gender-based violence.

In October 2022, the Employment Permits Bill was introduced to the Dáil, the aim of which is to consolidate the law concerning employment permits and modernise the employment permit system.

The Atypical Worker Scheme (AWS) was reviewed with a key recommendation included that non-European Economic Area (EEA) fishing crew should be provided for under the employment permit system administered by the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment (DETE) rather than the AWS which is administered by the Department of Justice. As a result, the AWS closed for new applications for third-country national fishing crew in December 2022 to allow for transition of this category of worker to the employment permit system.

Last year saw several major policy developments in the field of international protection. Unprecedented pressure on reception systems resulted in extraordinary measures to scale up reception capacity and in response to the significant increase in international protection applications, the International Protection Office (IPO) made several operational changes to the process for making an application for international protection including the introduction of an accelerated procedure for applicants who come from a designated safe country of origin.

After putting in place governance structures and beginning to implement the White Paper on Ending Direct Provision in 2021 (see Annual report on migration and asylum 2021), doubts were raised in 2022 about the future of the plan and timelines following the significant increase in international protection applications.  As a result began a review of the projected timelines and deliverables. While a review of the White Paper was underway, the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth (DCEDIY) progressed certain elements of the White Paper, including the acquisition of properties for vulnerable applicants, working towards increasing state-owned accommodation capacity, the development of an integration programme and negotiating with the County and City Management Association (CCMA) and the Local Government Management Agency (LGMA) to put in place a permanent model of integration support workers in each local authority, and funding for supports.

A new International Protection Integration Fund was established which supports projects aimed at facilitating the integration of international protection applicants. The fund aims to support projects across ten specific thematic areas, including employment, education, language, civil and legal supports, health and wellbeing.

Following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the Temporary Protection Directive (TPD) was activated in March 2022 for the first time. Significant policy, legislative and operational developments occurred to respond to these arrivals and to ensure access to the rights guaranteed by the Temporary Protection Directive, including the establishment of a Cabinet Committee on Humanitarian Response to Ukraine which coordinates a whole of government response to the arrivals of Beneficiaries of Temporary Protection (BOTPs). The Directive provides for immediate protection with a standard set of rights for beneficiaries including a residence permit for the duration of protection, access to employment and accommodation, access to social welfare medical care and banking services and access to state funded education for persons under 18 years among others.

There were several developments in relation to citizenship and statelessness in 2022. One of these was draft legislation, which was published and passed committee stage in 2022, including a proposed amendment to the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 1956 to reduce the residence requirement for naturalisation of minors from five to three years for those born in the State. Another was a clarification in the same draft legislation in relation to the definition of ‘continuous residence’ for the purpose of naturalisation.

In the area of trafficking in human beings, a significant development was the publication of the General Scheme of the Criminal Justice (Sexual Offences and Human Trafficking) Bill 2022 which included the draft statutory provisions for the revised National Referral Mechanism for victims of trafficking. This new approach would allow for other state bodies and NGOs in addition to an Garda Síochána in identifying and referring victims of trafficking. The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (IHREC) published Irelands first national evaluation on the implementation of the EU Anti-Trafficking Directive in 2022, with several recommendations. ESRI/EMN Ireland also published research on the policy and practice of detecting human trafficking and the identification and protection of victims.

In addition, the Criminal Justice (Incitement to Violence or Hatred and Hate Offences) Bill 2022 was published in October 2022. The Bill would repeal the Prohibition of Incitement to Hatred Act 1989 and replace it with provisions creating new incitement to violence or hatred offences and would also provide for offences aggravated by hatred.


Key Statistics

Residence, Employment and Other Permits:

2022 saw a significant increase in first residence permits (which are granted to migrants from outside the EEA) from 2021. 85,793 permits were issued, with education the most common reason for permits (48% of all first permits issued). Statistics on permits for education reasons reflected a recovery from the impact of COVID-19, showing a 3% increase from 2019.

Partially reflecting changes to eligible occupations for employment permits, the number of employment permits issued in 2022 was the highest in the last 10 years. 39,995 employment permits were issued, with the information and communication sector the largest recipient of permits. This is a change from 2021 where the health and social work sector received the most permits.

International Protection

A total of 13,651 applications for international protection were made in 2022. This marks a significant increase from 2019, the last comparable year before COVID-19 travel restrictions. Applications for international protection in Ireland continue to account for a small percentage of the EU total, standing at 1.3% of EU applications in 2022.

In 2022, 363 people were resettled to Ireland, a 22% decrease from 2021. This includes 160 people granted visa waivers under the Afghan Humanitarian Admission Programme.

Temporary Protection

As of December 2022, 67,448 people had arrived in Ireland under the TPD. 13% of arrivals (8,654) were enrolled in primary education, 7% (4,875) in secondary and 20% (13,619) in further education and training, of which 86% were English language courses.

Citizenship and Statelessness

A total of 17,188 applications for citizenship were made in 2022, the highest since 2013 and a 44% increase from 2021. The number of certificates issued was also at its highest level since 2014, with a 39% increase from 2021, to 13,605.

According to Eurostat, there were 8 first permits issued to persons whose nationality was recorded as stateless and 30 valid residence permits at the end of the year, although the difficulty of collating statistics on statelessness in Ireland should be noted.

Trafficking in Human Beings

Thirty persons from countries outside the EEA were identified as victims of trafficking in human beings in Ireland in 2022. An additional 12 people from EEA countries or of Irish nationality were identified as victims. Of the total victims, 57% were victims of sexual exploitation and 35% of labour exploitation.

Regularisation scheme for undocumented migrants

In total, 6,548 applications relating to 8,311 people were received under the regularisation scheme for long term undocumented migrants. In addition, 3,240 applications were received for the international protection strand of the regularisation scheme.


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