Frequently asked questions

What is international protection?

International protection is a commonly used phrase in EU law which refers to both refugee and subsidiary protection statuses. A person who claims asylum in Ireland is seeking international protection from persecution or serious harm in their home country.

Who is a refugee?

A refugee is someone who cannot return to their country because they have a well-founded fear of persecution there for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion.

Refugee status is the form of protection that is granted to people who meet the definition of a refugee.

What is subsidiary protection?

Subsidiary protection is complementary to refugee status. It means that someone cannot be returned to their country of origin or habitual residence because they face a real risk of serious harm. Serious harm means (i) the death penalty or execution; (ii) torture or inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment; (iii) serious and individual threat to a civilian’s life or person by reason of indiscriminate violence in a situation of international or internal armed conflict.

What is permission to remain?

Permission to remain will only be examined if you are found not to be entitled to refugee status or subsidiary protection. This is where the Minister considers whether to grant you permission to remain in Ireland for another reason such as your family or personal circumstances.

The Minister will consider factors such as: a. the nature of your connection with Ireland, if any; b. humanitarian considerations; c. your character and conduct both within Ireland and elsewhere, including any criminal convictions; d. considerations of the common good.

When considering permission to remain the Minister will also take into account the prohibition on refoulement.

What is Statelessness?

The international legal definition of a stateless person is “a person who is not considered as a national by any State under the operation of its law”. In simple terms, this means that a stateless person does not have a nationality of any country. Some people are born stateless, but others become stateless.

Statelessness can occur for several reasons, including discrimination against particular ethnic or religious groups, or on the basis of gender; the emergence of new States and transfers of territory between existing States; and gaps in nationality laws. Whatever the cause, statelessness has serious consequences for people in almost every country and in all regions of the world. 

What does the prohibition on refoulement mean?

This principle means that the Minister cannot expel or return any person, in any manner whatsoever to the frontier of a territory where, in the opinion of the Minister (a) the life or freedom of that person would be threatened for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion or (b) there is serious risk that the person would be subjected to the death penalty, torture or other inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

What does it mean to be dependent on a parent’s international protection claim?

A. It means that the assessment of a dependent child’s international protection application will be included in the assessment of his/her parent’s claim and may depend upon its outcome. The dependent child does not have a separate interview or separate examination of his or her protection needs. The parent should include any reasons in his or her application process as to why the child is in need of international protection and/or should be granted permission to remain in Ireland. It is important to remember that children may have additional or different protection needs from their parents.

Can I apply for international protection in Ireland if I am stateless?

Yes, you can apply for refugee status and subsidiary protection in Ireland if you are stateless and cannot return to your country of habituation residence for protection reasons. Your application will then be examined in relation to your country of habitual residence i.e. the country you previously lived in.

What if I have a disability and/or other special needs?

You should inform the IPO as soon as possible of any disability or other special needs you may have for your personal interview so that the IPO, where feasible, can accommodate your needs.

Can my refugee status declaration or subsidiary protection declaration be revoked?

Yes, your refugee status declaration or subsidiary protection declaration can be revoked under certain limited circumstances such as where you have subsequently been found to have given false or misleading information during the investigation of your application for international protection. If that occurs you will be sent a notice, in writing, of the Minister’s proposal to revoke your status, including any reasons. You will be given the opportunity to make representations in writing to the Minister in response within 15 working days of receiving the notice. Once the Minister has decided to revoke your status you may, within 10 working days, appeal to the Circuit Court against that decision.

Where will I stay during the international protection procedure?

You will be offered accommodation in a Direct Provision centre, however, should you have your own financial means to accommodate yourself, you are free to live elsewhere. The reception system is governed by S.I. No. 230 of 2018 European Communities (Reception Conditions) Regulations 2018.

Can UNHCR give me legal advice?

Unfortunately, due to limited resources and the nature of our role in Ireland, UNHCR in Dublin can provide only limited support in relation to individual cases.

Legal advice and representation is available free of charge through the Legal Aid Board or indirectly via their private practitioner scheme. For further details visit this page.

Once instructed, your legal representatives may contact UNHCR if they consider it necessary, in order to request assistance on specific issues and they should provide any relevant supporting documentation on the case, when doing so.

Legal representation and advice to asylum-seekers may also be provided through private solicitors or through specialised agencies such as the Irish Refugee Council and the Immigrant Council that may be able to provide their services free of charge.

If my child is born in Ireland, are they entitled to citizenship?

Children born in Ireland on or after 1 January 2005 are entitled to Irish citizenship if one of their parents are Irish or one of their parents are legally resident in the island of Ireland for 3 out of 4 years immediately prior to birth. Periods of legal residency as an asylum-seeker or on a student visa do not qualify for these purposes. However, a child born in Ireland who would not otherwise be entitled to citizenship of any other country will be entitled to Irish citizenship.

For more information, please see this page.

Do I have to apply for asylum in the first country I enter in Europe?

No. The “European Dublin III Regulation” aims to quickly establish only one Member State as responsible for examining an application for asylum within the EU and some associated countries: Norway, Iceland, Switzerland and Liechtenstein. It replaced the “Dublin II” Regulation that preceded it. The Regulation helps avoid the situation of asylum-seekers being sent from one country to another without any taking responsibility for their application. Equally it prevents abuse of the system whereby one person can submit several applications for asylum in different countries.

The Regulation does not set out to penalise asylum-seekers when they cross borders. Rather, it sets out a sliding scale of criteria that help the authorities establish which country is responsible for each individual asylum-seeker. Top of that list of criteria is family links. If the applicant is not already in the county deemed responsible, the Regulation sets out procedures to follow to arrange their transfer to that country. They also allow for discretionary transfers, where States agree, in order to unite family members. So, if a young asylum-seeker arrives in Italy but then moves on to France because his parents live there, he may be permitted to apply for asylum in France.

In the case of an unaccompanied minor, where he has no family members in the EU or associated States, he may apply for asylum in the country in which he/she is at the time.

The rules in relation to legal and illegal entry to Member States are somewhat technical. For example, once an asylum-seeker crosses a border irregularly into a country covered by the Regulation, that country will normally be deemed responsible if there are no family members in another country. If however after 7 months he/she moves to another country and lives there for a minimum of 5 months before applying for asylum, then the second country will be the one responsible for the application. Asylum-seekers’ fingerprints are normally taken by immigration officials and results from the shared “Eurodac” database are frequently the basis of such decisions.