On Universal Children’s Day read our recent study on Family reunification of non-EU nationals in Ireland

20 Nov 2017

This study overall looks at family reunification policy, law and practice in Ireland, considering recent changes in law and guidance. The study focuses on rules governing family reunification for non-EEA citizens. Some comparisons are drawn between the EU context and the Irish context.

The research highlights that Ireland’s family reunification policy and legislation concerning children differs from that in place across the EU. Non-EU family reunification at the EU level is governed by Council Directive 2003/86/EC of 22 September 2003 on the right to family reunification (Family Reunification Directive) in all Member States except Denmark, Ireland and the United Kingdom. In Ireland family reunification is governed by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) Policy Document on Non-EEA Family Reunification and operates largely on the basis of Ministerial discretion. Family reunfication for beneficiaries of international protection is governed by the International Protection Act 2015.

The study shows that the Family Reunification Directive provides a broader definition of family for unaccompanied minors than the Act of 2015.

The Directive includes in the definition first degree relatives of the child ‘in the direct ascending line’ and legal guardians or any other member of the family where the child refugee has no family in the direct ascending line or where they cannot be traced. 

Section 56 (9) of the Act of 2015 defines family member, in relation to the (unmarried) child sponsor, as his parents and their (unmarried) children.

The International Protection Act 2015 brought about significant changes, removing the pre-existing category of dependent relatives and narrowing eligibility to spouses and children (and minor siblings in applications by unaccompanied minors). In the past dependent family members, including grandparents, parents, brothers, sisters, grandchildren, and guardians were eligible under the Refugee Act 1996.

This and other aspects of family reunification systems in place in Ireland and elsewhere in the EU will be discussed at our upcoming conference on Migrant family reunification: policy and practice.

EMN Ireland has published on the situation of unaccompanied minors in Ireland in 2014 and in 2009. A 2018 EMN study will look at EU Member States’ approaches to unaccompanied minors following status determination

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