Direct provision system
Direct provision is the name used to describe the accommodation, food, money and medical services you get while your international protection application is being assessed or while you are an asylum seeker, which means the same thing.
You might get direct provision if you have applied for international protection and are waiting for:
- Your first decision
- The result of an appeal to the International Protection Appeals Tribunal
- A judicial review (where the High Court looks at how a decision on your application was made)
- A decision on whether you will be given leave to remain
- A deportation
Your direct provision normally ends if the Department of Justice gives you a refugee, or subsidiary protection declaration or permission to remain, but sometimes you can stay in direct provision temporarily while you are looking for your own place to live.
You can read about what happens if you are a Ukrainian refugee with temporary protection.
What is direct provision?
When you apply for international protection, also called claiming asylum, the International Protection Office (IPO) must process your application. This sometimes takes a long time.
While you are waiting, you are entitled to direct provision. This means that you get:
- Somewhere to live
- A weekly payment of €38.80 per adult and €29.80 per child
- A medical card
You do not have to accept direct provision. If you decide to live somewhere else, you will not get any state assistance (for example, social welfare or help with housing costs).
How direct provision works
Accommodation and food
Since 24 January 2023, new applicants for international protection who do not have children will not get accommodation straight away. When you apply for international protection, you will give your contact details. When accommodation is available, IPAS will contact you.
The place where you live in direct provision, called an accommodation centre, is usually a hotel or hostel that is paid to provide accommodation to international protection applicants. The International Protection Accommodation Service (IPAS) is the state agency that looks after the direct provision system.
You do not choose where you live, but you can ask to live in a certain location if you, for example, have to be close to a hospital where you are getting medical treatment. You can also ask IPAS to transfer you to another centre.
While you are in direct provision, you get breakfast, lunch and an evening meal
Social welfare payments
You get a weekly social welfare payment, called a Daily Expenses Allowance, while you are in direct provision.
- €38.80 for each adult
- €29.80 for each child
You cannot get other social welfare payments such as Disability Allowance, One-Parent Family Payment and Jobseeker’s Allowance. If your application is approved, you will get a Stamp 4 Irish Residence Permit.
You can apply for an Additional Needs Payment if you have essential needs that you cannot afford to pay for from your weekly payment. For example, you might get some help to buy school uniforms for your children.
While you are in direct provision, you can get a medical card. This gives you and your family free doctor (GP) appointments, free hospital care in public hospitals and prescriptions for a low cost.
Can I work?
You are not allowed to work until you have been waiting for 6 months for the IPO to issue its first decision (called the ‘first instance recommendation’) on your application.
This scheme is called Labour Market Access Permission.
You can make an application for Labour Market Access Permission if:
- You have been waiting for at least 5 months for a decision on your application and
- You have co-operated in the application process
If you get permission to work, it is valid from when you have been waiting for a decision on your IPO application for 6 months.
To apply for permission to work, you:
- Fill in a Form LMA3 (if you are not sure how to fill this in, you can visit your local Citizens Information Centre) and send it to Immigration Services Delivery (see ‘Further information and contacts’ below)
You can also apply for permission to be self-employed if you want to work for yourself.
If your application is successful, Immigration Services Delivery will send you a letter giving you permission to work.
When you find a job, your employer (or you if you are self-employed) should send Form LMA5 to the Immigration Services Division.
You should apply to renew your permission to work one month before it expires using Form LMA4.
You (or your child or children) can apply for the International Protection Student Scheme for help with the cost of going to third level education (including post-graduate courses). You can qualify for this if you:
- Are an international protection applicant and have not received a final decision on your application for refugee, subsidiary protection or permission to remain
- Have been an international protection applicant for at least 3 years on the date before your course starts
- Have not been given a deportation order
- Have applied for an approved PLC or higher education course
- Have income below the income limits for the scheme (income of parents is assessed unless you are an independent mature student)
To apply, you fill in an application form.
Post-Leaving Cert courses (PLC)
If you have permission to work, you do not have to pay international fees to do a PLC course.
English language courses
You may have free access to adult literacy and English language classes. You can get information on English classes from your local Education and Training Board (ETB).
Rules in direct provision
You should tell the accommodation centre manager if you or your family are away overnight. If you are away from the accommodation centre for more than 3 consecutive nights, the accommodation centre manager will write to you to ask you for the reason why you were away.
You could lose your accommodation if your explanation is not accepted. You could also lose your Daily Expenses Allowance.
If you move out of your accommodation centre, you should write to tell the International Protection Office where you are staying.
Complaints about direct provision
You should first make your complaint to the manager of the reception centre where you are living. You should talk to the manager first to see if they can resolve your complaint. You can make a complaint in writing if you are not satisfied.
If you are not happy with the outcome of your complaint to the reception centre, you can complain to the International Protection Accommodation Service (IPAS).
You can contact the Office of the Ombudsman if you are still not satisfied. The Ombudsman cannot investigate decisions about your international protection application. You should send your complaint within 12 months of the action or decision that you want to complain about. 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, you should complain to the Ombudsman for Children’s Office (OCO).
A new system to replace direct provision
The Irish Government plans to replace direct provision with a new International Protection Support Service.
Under the new system, applicants for international protection will stay in a ‘reception and integration centre’ for no more than 4 months. The new centres will be run by non-profit organisations.
After 4 months, if a decision has not been made on the application, the applicant will move to accommodation in the community. All current direct provision centres will close by the end of 2024 under the new plan.
You can read more about the plans in the White Paper on Ending Direct Provision.