Direct provision system

Introduction

Direct provision is the name used to describe the accommodation, food, money and medical services you get while your international protection application is being processed 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 permission to remain in Ireland, but sometimes you can stay in direct provision temporarily while you are looking for your own place to live.

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
  • Meals
  • A weekly payment of €38.80 per adult and €29.80 per child
  • A medical card

You do not have to accept direct provision. But you are not entitled to any other help from the State if you do not accept it.

Direct provision is how the Irish Government meets its obligations towards international protection applicants in international law, including:

How direct provision works

Accommodation and food

The Irish State must give you somewhere to live while the IPO is processing your international protection application.

The place where you live in direct provision, called an accommodation centre, is usually a hotel or hostel that is paid by the State 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.

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

If you lost your job due to COVID-19 you can apply for the COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment. If you are working and cannot go to work because you are sick with COVID-19, or you have been told to self-isolate or restrict your movements, you can apply for COVID-19 enhanced Illness Benefit.

You cannot get other social welfare payments such as Disability Allowance, One-Parent Family Payment and Jobseeker’s Allowance until you have you have been given permission to remain. If you get permission to remain you will get a Stamp 4 Irish Residence Permit.

You can apply for Exceptional Needs Payments and Urgent Needs Payments 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.

Healthcare

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 applies to applications received on or after 18 January 2021. Before this, you had to have been waiting for 9 months.

This scheme is called Labour Market Access Permission.

If you were recently refused permission to work because you had applied too early, you can ask for a review of that decision in writing.

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, the Immigration Services Division will send you a letter giving you permission to work. This is valid for 12 months for applications received on or after 18 January 2021.

When you find a job, your employer (or you if you are self-employed) should send Form LMA5 to the Immigration Services Division.

Education

Primary and secondary school is free in Ireland. Your children must go to school until they are at least 16.

You (or your child or children) can apply for the Student Support Scheme for Asylum Seekers for help with the cost of going to third level education. You can qualify for this if:

  • You are an international protection applicant or you are waiting for a ‘leave to remain’ decision
  • You have been an international protection or leave to remain applicant for a combined total of 3 years or more (as of 31 August before your course starts)
  • You have been accepted on an approved course
  • You have been living in Ireland for 3 years (as of 31 August before your course starts)

To apply, you fill in an application form.

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

If you are living in direct provision and you have a complaint, 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 Services.

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.

Further information and contacts

International Protection Accommodation Service

P.O. Box 11487
Dublin 2
Ireland

Tel: +353 1 418 3200
Fax: +353 1 418 3271

Immigration Service Delivery

Department of Justice

PO Box 12931
Freepost FDN5264
Dublin 2

Office of the Ombudsman

6 Earlsfort Terrace
Dublin 2
D02 W773
Ireland

Tel: +353 (0)1 639 5600
Locall: 1890 223 030
Fax: +353 (0)1 639 5674

Ombudsman for Children

Millennium House
52-56 Great Strand Street
Dublin 1
D01 F5P8
Ireland

Tel: +353 1 865 6800
Locall: Freefone 1800 20 20 40
Email: oco@oco.ie
Page edited: 26 February 2021