Applying for Asylum

What is asylum?

If you are afraid to return to your country of origin/country of previous residence because you are in danger of suffering serious harm you can apply for protection in Ireland. The first step to receive protection is to apply for asylum. Please note that you must be in Ireland, or at a port of entry (e.g. an airport or seaport) to before you can apply for asylum. All asylum claims are made through the government body known as the International Protection Office (IPO). This government body will examine your asylum application and grant a decision. These decisions are made in accordance with the 1951 UN Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 protocol. A decision means you will either be granted refugee status, subsidiary protection, permission to remain or your application will be rejected. If your asylum claim is rejected, you can choose to voluntarily return to your country of origin or be deported.

Step 1: Applying for Asylum

Once in Ireland, your asylum application should be made in person at the International Protection Office (IPO). Their office can be found at 79-83 Lower Mount Street, Dublin 2, D02 ND99. You may also make an application at an airport or seaport.

You can make an asylum claim for yourself, but also for your children who may be with you and are younger than 18 years of age. If any of your children are born while you are in Ireland, they will automatically be included in your asylum claim. The exception to this is if they are already Irish citizens. Asylum applications concerning children are very important, and you should communicate any protection concerns you have for your children during the asylum process with the relevant authorities.

Step 2: Preliminary Interview

After communicating that you would like to make an asylum application in Ireland, an immigration officer or an officer from the International Protection Office (IPO) will carrying out a ‘preliminary’ or initial interview with you.

The purpose of this preliminary interview is to gather information on your identity, your country of origin, the route you travelled to Ireland and the reason you are applying for asylum. This preliminary interview will also be used to decide whether you are able to apply for asylum in Ireland.

There may be reasons why your asylum claim will not be accepted. This can happen when you have already applied for asylum in another country and you are able to return there. This is known as the Dublin Regulation.

If your preliminary interview took place at a port of entry (e.g. airport of seaport), you will be directed to the office of the IPO. Here, you and any dependent children will be photographed and have your fingerprints taken. Fingerprints and photographs help the IPO decided whether the Dublin Regulation applies to your case.

You will then be given a temporary residence certificate which shows you have permission to be in Ireland while your asylum application is being decided. It is not an official identity card, but you should always keep it with you.  

Step 3: Questionnaire

After your preliminary interview, the International Protection Office (IPO) will give you an information booklet on Ireland’s asylum system and a questionnaire. It is important you get advice from a lawyer before completing the questionnaire. You should also read the information book before completing the questionnaire.

It is important that you complete the questionnaire fully and give the most accurate answer to each question that you can. If you do not understand parts of the questionnaire, ask your lawyer for help. This questionnaire should be returned to the IPO within 20 working days e.g. 4 weeks. If you need extra time to complete the questionnaire, you should talk to your lawyer.

It is important that you also provide any supporting documentation that you think may be relevant to your application. This includes any information related to your application for permission to remain.

Step 4: Personal Interview

The International Protection Office (IPO) will send you a letter with the date and time of your interview. The interview is your opportunity to communicate the reason(s) why you have applied for asylum in Ireland. If you have more information you would like included in your asylum claim since you submitted your questionnaire, try and let the IPO know at least one week before your interview. The date of the interview can be changed, however there would need to be a very good reason why you cannot attend e.g. you are very sick.

If you have difficulty speaking English, the IPO will provide a translator for you at the interview. On the day of the interview, it is important that you check if you and the translator understand one another. If you are having difficulties, you should let the interviewer IPO know. Similarly, if you do not understand any of the questions you are asked during your interview, ask for the interviewer to repeat them.

A written record of the interview will be kept by the interviewer from the IPO. During the interview, the interviewer will stop and ask you to read the notes of what you have said and to correct anything. You will then be asked to sign the interview record to confirm you have read it and think it is correct. If there is anything in the interview record that is not correct, or if there it is something missing, let the interviewer know.

Although your lawyer can go to your interview, this is not usual. If you are an unaccompanied child, your guardian or representative from Tusla (the Child and Family Agency) must join you in the interview.

Step 5: International Protection Office’s Recommendation

After the interview, the International Protection Office (IPO) will consider all the information you have provided in your case. This includes your interview(s), questionnaire and any documentation you submitted. The IPO will then make a ‘recommendation’ to the government.

If a recommendation has not been made within six months you can request an estimation of when you may receive one from the International Protection Office (IPO). The recommendation will be received by registered post and will be sent to you and/or your lawyer.

The possible recommendations the IPO can make are:

  1. To grant Refugee status
  2. To grant Subsidiary Protection 
  3. To not grant Refugee status or Subsidiary Protection

If the IPO recommends you be granted Refugee status, the Minister of Justice and Equality (the Minister) will send you a refugee declaration in several weeks. However, the Minister can refuse to follow the recommendation of the IPO where they have deemed the applicant is a security risk.  

If the IPO recommends you not be granted Refugee status or Subsidiary Protection the Minister will decide whether you should be granted ‘Permission to Remain’. You can read more about this and other terms here.

The possible different outcomes for the IPO’s recommendations are set out in the table below:

Step 6 Appeal to the International Protection Appeals Tribunal (IPAT)

You may appeal an International Protection Office (IPO) recommendation that you are not entitled to Refugee status or Subsidiary Protection to the International Protection Appeals Tribunal (IPAT). There is no appeal to the International Protection Appeals Tribunal (IPAT) for a refusal of permission to remain.

To appeal a decision, you must complete and submit an appeal form to the IPAT. Depending on the IPO’s findings, it is possible to request an oral hearing for your appeal. You only have a certain amount of time to submit an appeal application andwill be informed of how much time you have in your recommendation letter from the IPO.

You will be contacted when a time and date has been arranged for your appeal hearing. During an oral hearing a member of the IPO will be present with you, your lawyer and the ‘Tribunal Member’ (this is the staff member from the International Protection Appeals Tribunal). The Tribunal Member may also have a witness present to give evidence in relation to some part of your appeal application. On the day of your hearing, if a translator is required, make sure you check if both of you understand each other. If you have difficulties understanding the translator, you should communicate this to the Tribunal Member.

If the IPAT overturns a negative recommendation from the IPO, the Minister of Justice and Equality (the Minister) will send you the new declaration i.e. Refugee status or Subsidiary Protection.

Step 7 Review of Permission to Remain

If the International Protection Office (IPO) did not recommend you be granted permission to remain, and your appeal to the International Protection Appeals Tribunal (IPAT) is not successful, the Minister of Justice and Equality (the Minister) will  review the decision not to grant permission to remain where you have submitted any new information since the original decision was made. You will receive a permission to remain review form to complete. You will have just 5 working days to submit any new information. Therefore, it is important that you collect any documents you might want to submit in advance. If there has been any change to your situation in the time between the Minister’s permission to remain decision and the IPAT decision on your appeal, you should inform the Minister as soon as possible.

The Minister may also grant permission to remain if failure to do so would result in violating the prohibition of refoulement. You can read more about refoulement here.