Your rights when you get international protection

Introduction

If you get a refugee or subsidiary protection declaration, you will have rights that are set out in the International Protection Act 2015. Most of these rights also apply if you have permission to remain or came to Ireland as a programme refugee.

This page has information about your rights and information about some of the things you will have to do after you get your declaration. You must register and get an Irish Residence Permit.

Rights of people with international protection

After you are declared a refugee or a person with subsidiary protection, you have the right to:

  • Get a job without needing a work permit or any other permission
  • Open a business, or work in a trade or profession
  • Access education and training
  • Get the same medical care and apply for the same social welfare and housing supports as an Irish citizen
  • Live in Ireland for 3 years (which can then be renewed). Programme refugees may be granted permission to live in Ireland for a shorter period.
  • Apply for a travel document
  • Leave and re-enter Ireland (if you have a travel document)
  • Apply for family reunification for your family to join you in Ireland

Refugees can apply for Irish citizenship after 3 years or residence. If you have subsidiary protection status or permission to remain, you can apply after 5 years.

Permission to remain

If you were not declared a refugee or a person with subsidiary protection status, the Minister for Justice may grant you permission to remain in Ireland. You have most of the rights that are listed above. You do not have the same right to family reunification as a person with a refugee or subsidiary protection declaration. Your family can apply for a visa to join you, but you must satisfy conditions for the visa to be granted.

You can also only get a travel document if you cannot get a national passport.

Housing

Your direct provision normally ends when you get your declaration, but sometimes you can stay in direct provision while you are looking for your own place to live.

You can apply for social housing or look for private rented accommodation.

Social housing

Social housing is housing that is provided either by the local authority or an approved housing body. To apply for social housing you must register at the office of your local authority to go on the waiting list for housing.

Private rented accommodation

If you are on a low income, the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) can help with your rent. You must find your own private rented accommodation and then apply to the local authority for the payment. The local authority makes the HAP payment to your landlord on your behalf. You pay a weekly HAP rent contribution to the local authority, based on your household’s weekly income and your ability to pay.

Homeless

If you become homeless or you think you may lose your home, you should contact your local authority to access accommodation.

Buying a home

If you have enough money to pay a deposit and a regular income, you can apply for a mortgage to buy a house.

Social welfare

You can apply for social welfare payments. There are different social welfare payments available depending on your situation, for example:

Employment

You have the right to work and there is help available for looking for work and getting a job.

When you start working, you can get information about your employment rights, and there are procedures to assist you to enforce your employment rights.

Health services

A medical card gives you and your family access to medical services free of charge (some prescription charges apply).

If you do not qualify for a medical card, you will be asked to pay for certain medical services. Contact your Local Health Office for details of GPs (family doctors) in your area.

Education

All children and young people are entitled to free primary and post-primary education. If you apply to third level (colleges and universities), you may be eligible for the Student Grant.

If you are unemployed, there are different education and training opportunities that include courses specifically for unemployed people.

Further information

For information and advice about leaving direct provision accommodation, you can contact your local Citizens Information Centre.

The Money Advice and Budgeting Service (MABS) is a free and confidential service that can help people manage their money.

Page edited: 24 August 2022