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Minister McEntee outlines draft scheme to regularise undocumented migrants to Cabinet

Consultation to begin on the terms of the scheme, with final government approval expected in September

Outline proposals, which will be subject to consultation, envisage scheme opening to those in the State for four years without a valid immigration permission

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

Undocumented scheme will open by the end of 2021

Minister for Justice Helen McEntee TD has today announced her draft proposals for a scheme to regularise thousands of undocumented migrants in Ireland.

Opening the scheme by the end of the year is a key part of Minister McEntee’s Justice Plan 2021, and this week she updated Cabinet on her proposed approach, ahead of consultation with stakeholders.

The final terms of the scheme are subject to the consultation process. The Minister’s initial proposals envisage that eligible people would:

  • have a period of 4 years residence in the State without an immigration permission, or 3 years in the case of those with children

  • be granted an immigration permission that allows for unrestricted access to the labour market

  • have years of residence with that permission reckonable for the purposes of pursuing citizenship by way of naturalisation

Minister McEntee said:

"There are thousands of people across the country who have created a life here but unfortunately still live in the legal shadows. They are active members of our communities: contributing to our society, enriching our culture and working in our economy.

"I firmly believe that we in Ireland must show the same generosity towards undocumented migrants living in our country as we ask other countries, particularly the United States, to show Irish people who have built a life elsewhere but who are still undocumented in their new homes."

Minister McEntee and James Browne TD, the Minister of State for Law Reform, James Browne, will hold an information webinar with NGOs, civil society, employer organisations, trade unions and other key stakeholders on Monday 26 April, on the proposed Regularisation Scheme for long-term Undocumented Migrants.

Speaking ahead of this engagement, Minister McEntee said:

"There is now an opportunity for key stakeholders to have their say on the proposed criteria and how they can be applied in practice. People who are in an undocumented situation live on the margins of our society and unfortunately may be more vulnerable to exploitation due to their precarious legal situation."

"The support of key organisations working directly with people and families who find themselves in these circumstances will be crucial to encouraging people to come forward and participate when the Scheme opens.

"I look forward to engaging with all key stakeholders to present our plans and to hear their views as we consider the final criteria to be included under the Scheme. Their valuable insights will help us to achieve our goal of providing a scheme to cover every eligible undocumented person and their family members living in the country and to deliver it in an accessible and efficient manner."

In addition to presenting their initial views to the Ministers on Monday, stakeholders will also have an opportunity to provide more detailed written submissions after the webinar.

The Department of Justice expects to be ready to accept applications for the scheme by the end of the year in line with the commitment in Minister McEntee’s Justice Plan 2021.

The undocumented scheme will operate under the Executive powers of the Minister for Justice on an administrative basis and will be time limited. It is anticipated it will be open for approximately six months for applications.

When assessing applications under this scheme, regard will be given to the character and conduct of an individual.

It is intended that the final approach to the undocumented scheme will have been brought to Cabinet in September, with applications to the scheme opened by the end of the year.



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