Applying for international protection in Ireland

Introduction

You can apply for international protection in Ireland if you have come to Ireland to escape persecution in your own country.

You can also apply for international protection if you cannot return to your country because you have a well-founded fear for your safety.

Most people apply for international protection when they enter Ireland. This is also called claiming asylum. But, you can also apply if you are already in Ireland.

Some people come to Ireland as programme refugees. This means that the Irish Government has decided to allow them to live in Ireland following a request by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

This document explains how to apply for international protection in Ireland and how your application is processed. The International Protection Office (IPO) in Dublin processes and decides on your application.

Who can apply for international protection?

You can apply for international protection in Ireland for two separate reasons:

  • You have a ‘well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion’, and you cannot seek the protection of your country. This is called refugee status.
  • You cannot return to your own country because you are at risk of serious harm, but you do not qualify as a refugee. This is called subsidiary protection status.

If you are seeking international protection, your application must be processed, and you must be allowed to stay in Ireland while the IPO processes your application.

If you have children with you, they are included in your application.

Claiming asylum in another country

You may have claimed asylum in another country. If the IPO believes you have done so, you could be returned to that country. You could also be returned to another country if the IPO believes that the other country should process your application.

The decision to transfer you to another country is made under the EU Regulation No. 604/2013, which have been transposed into Irish law by the European Union (Dublin System) Regulations 2014. You can appeal a decision to transfer you from Ireland under these Regulations.

How to apply for international protection

Normally, there are six steps you need to take to apply for international protection. It can take a long time to go through these steps because there can be delays and you may have to appeal points along the way.

Step 1: Tell the authorities you want to apply

Step 2: Do a preliminary interview

Step 3: Complete a questionnaire

Step 4: Do a personal interview (also called second interview)

Step 5: Get a recommendation from the IPO

Step 6: Get a decision from the Ministerial Decisions Unit

Step 1: Tell the authorities you want to apply

You can apply at the port of entry to Ireland (an airport or ferry port) or later at the office of the IPO in Dublin. If you apply at the port of entry, you will still have to make a formal application at the IPO office. Make sure you do this within 5 working days (not Saturdays or Sundays).

Step 2: Take part in a preliminary interview

When you say that you want to claim international protection or asylum, an IPO officer will interview you. This is called the preliminary interview. During this interview, you will be asked about:

  • Your identity
  • Your country of origin
  • How you came to Ireland
  • The reasons why you cannot return to your country of origin
  • Your immigration history in Ireland if you have any

The IPO takes your photograph and fingerprints. It shares this information with EURODAC – this is a computer database that compares fingerprints. If you have already claimed asylum in another country in the EU, the IPO may decide to return you to that country.

If your application is not accepted (inadmissible)

If after the interview the IPO decides that it can’t accept your application, that it is inadmissible, it will write to tell you why. You could have been granted international protection in another EU country or you could come from a country which is deemed to pose no risk.

You can appeal this decision in writing to the International Protection Appeals Tribunal (IPAT) in Dublin. You need to do this within 10 working days of the date of notification of the refusal. An extension to the 10 day limit can be granted if there is good reason for the delay.

Step 3: Complete questionnaire

If the IPO accepts your application, you can stay in Ireland while it is being processed. The International Protection Accommodation Service (IPAS) will offer you somewhere to live. This is called direct provision. You cannot work or open a business. But if the IPO has not made a decision on your application within 8 months , you can apply for permission to work. You can read about direct provision.

The IPO will give you an Application for International Protection Questionnaire to fill in and send back to its office. If you do not know how to fill it in, you should get legal advice, or you can ask one of the organisations listed in ‘Organisations that can help’ below.

You can apply for legal aid through the Legal Aid Board.

You should also send documents and evidence to support your application. You can send anything that you think will support your application. If you are not sure what to send, you should get legal advice.

You will also get a Temporary Registration Certificate (TRC). This is proof that you have made an application for asylum in Ireland.

Step 4: Take part in a personal interview

The personal interview, also called the second interview or substantive interview is a very important part of your asylum application. You will be interviewed by a case worker who works for the IPO. You should get legal advice before your interview.

Waiting times for interviews

You may have to wait some time before you are called for your personal interview. In some cases, your application can be prioritised, which means that you do not have to wait as long for your interview. Your case can be prioritised if:

  • You are under 18, or were under 18 when you applied, and are not accompanied by an adult.
  • You are over 70 who are not part of a family group.
  • You have sent in a report, called a medico-legal report, that confirms that you were tortured or ill-treatment in your country. Your legal aid solicitor can arrange for you to see a doctor to get a medical report if you need one.
  • You are from Syria, Eritrea, Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, Libya or Syria.
  • You have a severe or life-threatening health condition.
You will be given the date, time and place of your interview in writing.

Before your interview

Before your interview, you can:

  • Ask that an interpreter is at your interview. This is often helpful even if you speak English well as the interpreter can help you if you find it harder to speak in English if you become upset or you are anxious.
  • Ask to be interviewed by a male or female officer. You will need to explain why you want a female or male interviewer.
  • Get legal advice

The personal interview

The interview is your chance to tell the IPO about why you left your country, the things you have experienced or seen and why you are afraid to return.

The case worker will write down the information you give at this interview. Make sure they read it back to you so you can check that it is accurate. You can ask for the document to be corrected if you think you have been misunderstood, or you wish to give more details about something.

You might have to talk about things that have happened to you or your family that are upsetting for you to talk about. If you have a solicitor with you, they cannot answer questions on your behalf.

If you can’t go to the interview

If you can’t go to your interview on the set date, you should inform the IPO as soon as possible after you receive your interview date. You also need to tell them why you cannot go to the interview and send proof of this reason.

Example: If you are ill, you might send a letter from your doctor on headed paper to say that you would not be fit enough to be interviewed on that date.

Step 5: Get a recommendation from the IPO

The IPO may take a long time to process your application You can read about your rights while you are waiting for a decision on your application.

The decision on your application is called a first instance decision.

The IPO sends its recommendation to you and to the Ministerial Decisions Unit of the Department of Justice. It will recommend one of the following:

  • That you should be declared a refugee
  • That you should be not be declared a refugee, but you should get a subsidiary protection declaration
  • That you should be given neither a refugee or subsidiary protection declaration but you are given permission to remain
  • That you should be given neither a refugee or subsidiary protection declaration nor permission to remain

You can appeal a decision to refuse a refugee and/or subsidiary protection declaration to the International Protection Appeals Tribunal (IPAT).

Step 6: Get a decision from the Ministerial Decisions Unit

The IPO’s recommendation is sent to the Ministerial Decisions Unit (MDU) of the Department of Justice.

If the IPO has recommended that you should get a refugee or subsidiary protection declaration, you will have to wait until the MDU decides on this. Usually, the MDU follows the IPO’s recommendation, but sometimes the MDU also does some checks and the decision could be delayed.

If the IPO did not recommend that you get a refugee or subsidiary protection declaration and you did not appeal (or your appeal was unsuccessful), the MDU will decide if there are other reasons for granting you leave to remain in Ireland. You can read about what happens if your application for international protection is unsuccessful.

If the MDU tells you that you have been declared a refugee, or given subsidiary protection, or you have been given ‘leave to remain’, you must register with your local immigration office.

Organisations that can help you

Irish Refugee Council

37 Killarney Street
Mountjoy
Dublin 1
Ireland

Tel: (01) 764 5854
Fax: (01) 672 5927

Nasc Migrant and Refugee Rights

34 Paul Street
Cork
T12 W14H

Tel: 021 427 3594

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)

1-3 Lower Fitzwilliam Street
Dublin 2
Ireland

Tel: +353 (0)1 631 4510
Fax: +353 (0)1 632 8676

Smithfield Law Centre

48-49 North Brunswick Street
Georges Lane
Dublin
D07 PEOC
Ireland

Tel: +353 1 646 9600
Fax: +353 1 671 0200

Cork North Law Centre

North Quay House
Popes Quay
Cork
T23 HV26
Ireland

Tel: 1800 202420
Fax: +353 21 455 7622

Galway Law Centre

Seville House
New Dock Road
Galway
H91 CKVO
Ireland

Tel: 1800 502400
Fax: +353 (0)91 562599

Further information and contacts

The International Protection Office has published a detailed information booklet for applicants for international protection (pdf).

International Protection Office

Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service

79-83 Lower Mount Street
Dublin
D02 ND99
Ireland

Opening Hours: Mon-Fri 9.30am-1pm, 2-4.30pm
Tel: +353 1 602 8000
Fax: +353 1 602 8122

International Protection Appeals Tribunal

6-7 Hanover St East
Dublin 2
D02 W320
Ireland

Tel: +353 1 474 8400
Locall: 1890 201 458
Fax: +353 1 474 8410

Page edited: 10 November 2020