Resettlement to Ireland

Ireland has a resettlement quota for refugees. In 2005 the resettlement quota increased from ‘10 cases plus family members’ to 200 persons per year. It includes immediate family members and dependent parents.

Cases are selected on the basis of a paper application (dossier) or following face to face interviews in the country of refuge (selection missions).

Dossier selection relies on dossier submissions by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Dossiers are submitted to the Department of Foreign Affairs and are examined by both the Departments of Foreign Affairs and Justice Equality and Law Reform. Where medical or emergency cases are submitted, other Government Departments such as the Department of Health and Children and the Garda National Immigration Bureau are consulted.

Since 2005, Ireland has carried out selection missions to Jordan (Iranian Kurds), Thailand (Burmese Karen), Uganda (Sudanese), Bangladesh (Burmese Rohingya) and Tanzania (Congolese from the Democratic Republic of Congo). 

Eligibility Criteria

The legal framework for resettlement in Ireland is set down in Section 24 of the 1996 Refuge Act (as amended).

For resettlement purposes, refugees are referred to as ‘programme refugees’. Section 24 of the 1996 Refugee Act defines a programme refugee as a person ‘to whom leave to enter and remain in the State for temporary protection or resettlement as part of a group of persons has been given by the Government and whose name is entered in a register established and maintained by the Minister for Foreign Affairs, whether or not such person is a refugee within the meaning of the definition of ‘refugee’ in Section 2’.

There are four special categories to which priority is given in consideration of refugee cases:

  • Survivors of violence or torture;
  • Medical needs;
  • Women at risk;
  • Elderly refugees.

For dossiers submitted by UNHCR to the government of Ireland, the following documentation has to be included in the application:

  • a covering letter explaining why the refugee requires resettlement and whether he or she is at risk or falls into a vulnerable category.
  • a completed UNHCR Resettlement Registration Form. Information regarding family members who might be considered for family reunification later must be included. They should be complete and accurate.
  • relevant documentation such as medical certificates and birth certificates.

Admissibility for Resettlement

Where medical cases are submitted the dossiers are also forwarded to the Department of Health and Children for examination and approval.

Acceptance of refugees with medical problems is conditional on verification that the Irish services can provide them with adequate treatment. 

Family Reunification for resettled refugees

A refugee may apply for the admission of a member of his/her family into Ireland. Under Article 18 of the 1996 Refugee Act, a member of the family is:

  • in case the refugee is married, his or her spouse (provided that the marriage is subsisting on the date of the refugee’s application pursuant to subsection (1));
  • in case the refugee is, on the date of his or her application pursuant to subsection (1), under the age of 18 years and is not married, his or her parents, or
  • a child of the refugee who, on the date of the refugee’s application pursuant to subsection (1), is under the age of 18 years and is not married.

An unmarried heterosexual partner may be considered for family reunification if the couple has a child together and are in a long term relationship.

A dependent member of the family may also be eligible for family reunification in exceptional circumstances. In the case of an elderly or a sick parent applications may be considered on the basis of financial dependency.

A person with refugee status in Ireland who wishes to make an application to have a family member or civil partner join him/her must apply in writing to the Family Reunification Section of the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS):

Department of Justice and Law Reform
Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service13/14 Burgh Quay
Dublin 2
Opening Hours: Helpline: Mon, Wed, Fri 10am to 12.30pm
Tel: +353 (0)1 669 6979
Opening Hours: Helpline: Mon, Wed, Fri 10am to 12.30pm
Tel: +353 (0)1 669 6979

Source: this information has been taken from official documents as well as the Ireland country chapter in the UNHCR Resettlement Handbook.