Services and entitlements for people seeking asylum
The Reception and Integration Agency, which is under the Department of Justice and Equality, is responsible for co-ordinating the services provided to asylum seekers in Ireland. This is done in partnership with a number of State agencies, voluntary and community groups and other non-governmental organisations.
On 30 June 2015, the Government published the Report of the Working Group on the Protection Process including Direct Provision and supports to asylum seekers. It includes over 170 recommendations, including improvements to the conditions in accommodation for asylum seekers, particularly for families and children.
Services and entitlements available to you
As a newly arrived asylum seeker, you are initially accommodated in a short-stay reception centre in the Dublin area for a period of assessment. You will then be assigned accommodation at a regional centre. Such an assignment will take your particular needs into account.
Personal welfare entitlements
Your accommodation is full board, which includes bed, breakfast, lunch, and evening meal. This known as direct provision.
Each adult will receive a personal allowance of €21.60 per week. The allowance for a child is also €21.60 per week.
You may be entitled to assistance towards clothing when you arrive and to other exceptional needs from time to time. The Department of Social Protection's representative (formerly known as the Community Welfare Officer) will advise you on this.
You will not be entitled to Rent Supplement as your accommodation is paid for.
The Local Health Office will provide for your medical needs. The Department's representative will provide you with a medical card application form. The medical card gives you and your family access to medical services free of charge. You can read more about medical services for asylum seekers here.
Primary and post-primary education: Information packs on primary and post-primary education are provided at the initial reception centre in Dublin to the parents of children of school-going age before they are allocated to their regional accommodation centre.
All children and young people, including young asylum seekers, are entitled to free primary and post primary education. All children are required to remain in school until they are 16 years of age. Most children start school at 4 years of age and continue through primary school until they are approximately 12 years old. Corporal punishment is prohibited in Irish schools.
On completing primary education, the students then transfer to post-primary or second-level education (more commonly called secondary education). They join the junior cycle of secondary education, which lasts 3 years. At the end of this cycle students present themselves for the Junior Certificate Examination. Students then continue into the senior cycle, which lasts two or three years and leads to students presenting for the Leaving Certificate Examination.
Children may have free access to mother tongue supports.
Further and higher education: In general, asylum seekers are not entitled to free third-level (university or college) education. Under the Pilot Support Scheme, school leavers who have been in the protection system for 5 years and meet certain criteria can apply for student supports.
Adults may have free access to adult literacy and English language classes. Information on English classes can be obtained from your local Education and Training Board (ETB) or local support group.
Work and vocational training
In general, you are not entitled to work or attend vocational training. You may, however, become involved in voluntary community activities.
Interpretation and translation services
Interpretation and translation services will be provided where necessary.
Local support groups
Information on various local support groups, at or near your resettlement destination, will also be available on request from the Reception and Integration Agency.
Staff of the Agency will hold information meetings at your accommodation centre on a regular basis.
If you are living within the direct provision system and you have a complaint, you must first make your complaint to the manager of the accommodation centre. You can find information on the complaints procedure in the Reception and Integration Agency’s booklet Direct Provision Reception and Accommodation Centres House rules and Procedures (pdf). If you are unhappy with the way your complaint has been dealt with by the manager of the accommodation centre, you can take your complaint to the Reception and Integration Agency (RIA).
If you are still unhappy after the RIA’s examination, you can contact the Office of the Ombudsman. The Ombudsman can examine complaints about certain actions or decisions of accommodation centres and the Reception and Integration Agency (RIA). The Ombudsman cannot examine decisions about; asylum, citizenship, family reunification, residency or visas.
You should submit your complaint within 12 months of the action or decision that has adversely affected you. However, even if more than 12 months has passed, the Ombudsman may still be able to help if there is a good reason for the delay.
If the complaint relates to a child or person under 18 years who has been adversely affected by an action, or inaction, of the accommodation centre or the RIA, you should complain to the Ombudsman for Children’s Office (OCO).
You will be expected to stay at the regional centre while your application for international protection (refugee status or subsidiary protection) is being processed.
You are not allowed to seek alternative accommodation in the private rented sector during this time.
If you are absent from your designated accommodation centre for more than 3 consecutive nights, the Reception and Integration Agency will deem your bed space abandoned.
Continuous absenteeism (that is, for 3 or more nights) will be taken as an indication that you do not wish to receive any aid or assistance from the Agency.
House rules are posted in each accommodation centre. While you are a resident in the centre, you will be expected to abide by these rules. You can find the House Rules and Procedures booklet (pdf) including complaints procedures on the Agency's website.
It is the responsibility of parents to supervise and care for their children. To ensure the safety of the children and for the safety of others, it is not permissible to leave children unattended at the accommodation centres. Failure to care for and ensure the safety of your children may require the the involvement of the Child and Family Agency, which is obliged, under the Child Care Act 1991, as amended by the Child and Family Agency Act 2013, to ensure the welfare and protection of children in its area.
Your application for international protection will be processed while you are living at your allocated accommodation. The International Protection Office will provide you with an information leaflet on the procedures involved in processing asylum claims.
Where to apply
Contact the Department of Social Protection's representative at your local health centre.