The asylum system in Ireland
You can apply for asylum if you are in Ireland and you are unable to return to your home country because you fear persecution.
The International Protection Office (IPO) will then review your case. Any negative determination by IPO can be appealed to the International Protection Appeals Tribunal (IPAT).
If your application is successful, the Minister for Justice and Equality will make a declaration that you are entitled to protection. Read a longer description about how to apply for asylum in Ireland.
Who can apply for asylum
To apply for asylum, you must:
- Be unable to go back to your own country (if you're stateless, this is the country you usually live in) because you fear persecution.
- Be unable to live safely in any part of your own country.
- Have failed to get protection from authorities in your own country.
This persecution must be for one of the following reasons:
- Political opinions
- Membership of a particular social group that puts you at risk, eg your gender, gender identity, sexual orientation
You can apply for asylum at any age. However, if you are under 18 and alone in Ireland, a social worker will help decide whether an asylum application is in your best interest.
Note: If you apply for asylum there is no guarantee you will be successful. However, you can appeal a negative decision. When you apply for asylum, you can also apply for another status called 'Subsidiary Protection', as explained below
Ireland does not accept asylum applications from citizens of other European Union member states.
Safe Country of Origin
Unless you prove otherwise, your application will not be successful if:
- You are a citizen of a country that has been designated as a Safe Country of Origin.
- You have the right to live in a Safe Country of Origin.
A Safe Country of Origin is one that:
- Respects human rights
- Offers state protections
- Does not normally produce refugees
The Minister for Justice and Equality decides if a country is a Safe Country of Origin, in conjunction with the Minister for Foreign Affairs.
Previous application for asylum
If you previously applied for asylum in another country, you may be returned there for your application to be processed.
If you match the legal definition of a Convention Refugee, you will be given refugee status in Ireland.
As a refugee you can stay in Ireland and will have many of the same rights as an Irish citizen.
Note: A Convention Refugee is someone who matches the definition of a refugee in the Geneva Convention on Refugees. A Programme Refugee is someone who is invited to Ireland by the government, usually in response to a request for protection from the UNHCR. You cannot apply directly to become a Programme Refugee.
If you do not qualify to be a refugee but you are at risk of serious harm if sent home, you may be given a status called Subsidiary Protection.
As someone with Subsidiary Protection you'll be allowed to stay in Ireland and be given many of the same rights as an Irish citizen.
You can apply for Subsidiary Protection at the same time as you apply for asylum. The application for subsidiary protection will be reviewed if you are refused refugee status. A negative determination in regard to your application for Subsidiary Protection can be appealed to the International Protection Appeals Tribunal.
Leave to Remain
If you do not qualify for refugee status or for Subsidiary Protection, you may be given permission to stay in Ireland for humanitarian or other reasons.
This is called 'Leave to Remain'.
As someone with Leave to Remain you will be given many of the same rights as an Irish citizen.
Asylum policy & implementation
The Minister for Justice and Equality has overall responsibility for asylum policy and its implementation in Ireland. Asylum services are delivered by several organisations (described below).
The aim is to provide an efficient, responsive and fair system. Some immediate priorities include:
- To reduce processing times for asylum seekers by introducing a single procedure for applications.
- To maintain the integrity of and implement improvements to the protection and direct provision systems.
- To provide protection for up to 4,000 people through the Irish Refugee Protection Programme (IRPP).
Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS)
INIS is a 'one stop shop' responsible for the overall supervision of the asylum and immigration system in Ireland. INIS also supports the Minister for Justice and Equality in setting policy in this area.
Garda National Immigration Bureau (GNIB)
An Garda Síochána is the police force in Ireland. GNIB is the part of the police force responsible for police operations related to asylum and immigration matters.
International Protection Office (IPO)
IPO processes applications for asylum and subsidiary protection in Ireland. IPO makes recommendations to the Minister for Justice and Equality about whether or not to grant protection.
International Protection Appeals Tribunal (IPAT)
If IPO delivers a negative recommendation about an application for refugee status or for Subsidiary Protection, these decisions can be appealed to IPAT.
Reception and Integration Agency (RIA)
RIA provides asylum seekers with a safe place to live and basic services while their application is being processed.
If you have questions, contact us.
Updated: 5 January 2017
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5 January 2017
All references to Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner (ORAC) changed to International Protection Office (IPO).
All references to Refugee Appeals Tribunal (RAT) changed to International Protection Appeals Tribunal (IPAT).
24 May 2016