Pathways | 

New scheme to give 17,000 undocumented migrants right to stay in Ireland

Successful applicants will receive immigration permission, access to the labour market, and can also begin a path to the citizenship process.

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)

Neasa Cumiskey

Approximately 17,000 people will be eligible for a new scheme that will give undocumented migrants the legal right to stay in Ireland.

Minister for Justice Helen McEntee said that The Regularisation of Long Term Undocumented Migrants scheme, which is open for six months from today, will consider applicants with a minimum of four years undocumented residence in Ireland, or three years in the case of those with children.

People with an existing deportation order can also apply, once they meet the minimum undocumented residence requirement, as can those with expired student permissions.

Those who have convictions for minor offences will not be immediately disqualified from the application process.

However, candidates must meet standards regarding good character and must not pose a threat to the State.

Successful applicants will receive immigration permission, access to the labour market, and can also begin a path to the citizenship process.

Speaking on Newstalk Breakfast today, Minister McEntee said that thousands of migrants are eligible for the scheme, including some 3,000 children.

She explained:“As of today, if you are in an undocumented way in this country, perhaps if you are someone who had a residency permit or who has had documentation in the past but has fallen out of that status, or if you’re somebody who has come here in the last number of years without documentation, you can now apply for a scheme that would create a pathway for you, firstly, to have legal access to the labour market - but secondly that you could potentially continue on that path to citizenship.

“Working with the Migrants Rights Centre and other organisations, we have a general sense of a figure of around 17,000.

“That potentially includes about 3,000 children in it - but the nature of this means we don't have the exact figure.

“But I think we need to see as the scheme opens today, and the coming weeks, the numbers of people that respond.”

She added that the Government has been working closely with a number of embassies and organisations to encourage migrants to apply for the scheme.

She said: “And we really have tried to make sure - that either through the organisations who we've been dealing with, or even through embassies where we know we have particularly large numbers of citizens from certain countries - we've reached out to them, we've asked them to reach out to their communities to encourage people to come forward.

“You have people who are in very vulnerable situations, often as well, who don't engage with the State - who live somewhat in the shadows for fear of deportation or for fear of being removed from the State.

“So, we've really tried to reach out to make sure that anybody who can avail of this scheme, that they do avail of this scheme.”

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