Legal aid for asylum seekers
Free legal aid is available to asylum seekers in Ireland through the Legal Aid Board to assist at all stages of the international protection process. This includes at the time of the initial application, first interview and appeals. Alternatively, you may also engage the services of a solicitor at your own expense. You may also consult with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
The Legal Aid Board is an independent statutory body providing legal services in civil matters.
The Irish Refugee Council Independent Law Centre provides early legal advice and representation to those in the early stages of the asylum process.
You should seek legal advice as early as possible in the process for asylum.
Civil legal aid and advice for asylum seekers
The Legal Aid Board provides confidential and independent legal services to persons applying for asylum in Ireland. The Board's civil legal aid and advice scheme will assist with applications for asylum or subsidiary protection and appeals to the Refugee Appeals Tribunal. It will not assist you with a judicial review of how the decision on your application was made but you might be able to get civil legal aid for that separately.
To apply for legal aid and advice you must fill in an application form – see ‘How to apply’ below. To qualify for legal aid you must pass a means test - see 'Rules' below.
Legal services provided
A person who makes an application for legal services will be assisted as soon as possible. The Legal Aid Board will provide assistance in the following way:
- It will generally assist in applications for asylum by providing advice to you before you submit your questionnaire to the International Protection Office or before you attend your interview in the International Protection Office
- It can make written submissions to the International Protection Office in support of your application for asylum
- It can provide representation before the International Protection Appeals Tribunal
- Where an application for refugee status is refused, it can assist generally in the submission of applications in accordance with the Immigration Act 1999 and matters arising from this submission
To qualify for legal services, your income, less certain allowances, must be less than €18,000 and you must pay a minimum contribution of €10 for legal advice and, if you need it, legal aid.
People who are only receiving social welfare payments will generally be eligible for legal services at the minimum contribution. People in Direct Provision may apply to have some of their contribution waived, which is at the discretion of the Legal Aid Board.
Requirements of people seeking assistance
If you become a client of the Legal Aid Board you must:
- Keep the Legal Aid Board advised at all times of your current address.
- Attend at all appointments made for you with your caseworker or solicitor in the Legal Aid Board. Strict limits apply at all stages of the asylum process and failure to attend appointments on time may result in the Legal Aid Board being unable to provide a service to you.
How to apply
To apply for legal aid and advice to assist you with your asylum application, you fill in the application form and send it to the Smithfield Law Centre at the address below.
Where to apply