New migration and asylum measures introduced in response to COVID-19

14 May 2020

Recent developments

On 23rd April, the Department of Justice and Equality and the HSE issued a joint statement on the measures to protect direct provision residents during the COVID-19 crisis.

The statement explained that a range of measures have been put in place to address any cases of COVID-19 in direct provision centres if and when they arise. These measures include the provision of self-isolation facilities within centres as well as of a number of offsite self-isolation centres across the country. When a resident is suspected or confirmed to have the virus, where advised by Public Health, they will be moved to a dedicated off-site self-isolation facility. This is the established procedure across all centres. In early April, the Department of Justice and Equality announced that three new self-isolation facilities with 200 beds had been secured for Direct Provision as part of the emergency response to the pandemic.

On 13th May, the Immigration Service Delivery updated its FAQ document on the ‘Impact of COVID-19 on Immigration and International Protection’ explaining the most recent updates to asylum and migration services in Ireland.

Employment permits held by Stamp 1 holders continue to be valid and will be extended if necessary in line with the notice that immigration permissions due to expire between 20 March and 20th July 2020 are automatically extended for two months. This includes people in Ireland on short stay visas and those whose permissions have already been extended by the previous notice issued on 20th March 2020. The renewal of permission is on the same basis as the existing permission and the same conditions apply.  Temporary arrangements allowing for electronic copies (PDF) of permits to be issued by e-mail have been put in place. The Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation’s contingency plan outlines how the Employment Permit system will continue to operate in all scenarios.

New visa applications are not being accepted at this time except in certain priority or emergency situations. Visa applications made online however continue to be valid and will be processed once COVID-19 related restrictions are lifted. Visa appeals can be submitted but due to current restrictions, capacity to process appeals is significantly reduced. All re-entry visa application processing has been suspended.

A change to immigration permission of current “Stamp 3” holders who respond to and qualify under the HSE’s “Be on Call for Ireland” campaign will be considered. Non-EU “Stamp 2” holder students who lost their employment due to COVID-19 can apply to the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection for the COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment.

As part of the Department’s emergency response to COVID-19, Burgh Quay and all local registration offices are currently closed and will be until further notice. All existing appointments are cancelled. The requirement to register an immigration permission will not arise until Burgh Quay (and other registration offices) re-opens or alternative arrangements are put in place.

All substantive interviews scheduled up to and including 22 May 2020 have been cancelled. Temporary Residence Certificate (TRC) Renewal Appointments and call-backs are suspended up to and including 20 July. Applicants whose TRCs are due for renewal between 27 March and 20 July will automatically be issued a new card. All hearings scheduled at the International Protection Appeals Tribunal (IPAT) up to and including 26 May 2020 are postponed until further notice.

The EU Treaty Rights Division will continue to receive new residence card applications and is processing applications for residence cards and requests for review. As a temporary measure, until 20th May, the EU Treaty Rights Division will allow in-country residence card applications or requests for review to be submitted by email. Some emergency applications, including healthcare professionals, may be prioritised in the current situation.

Applications for the Immigrant Investor Program and the Start-up Entrepreneur program continue to be accepted.

Voluntary return applications are currently not being processed.

Contingency arrangements have been put in place for residents of the accommodation system for protection applicants. A dedicated team has been put in place in the International Protection Accommodation Services (IPAS) unit of the Department of Justice and Equality, in collaboration with the HSE, to manage COVID-19 in accommodation centres. Actions include the provision of public health advice, including translations, to all accommodation centres and moving residents from emergency accommodation to dedicated accommodation centres.

The Department of Justice and Equality confirmed that it does not and will not seek any information from an immigration perspective from either the Department of Employment and Social Protection or the HSE for persons coming forward for social supports or medical attention. Any undocumented migrant should not hesitate about coming forward to access health care or social supports during the COVID-10 crisis.

For more information, see;

Information regarding the Justice Sector COVID-19 plans

Information regarding Immigration Service Delivery and the FAQ

Information regarding International Accommodation Protection Centres

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