Irish law does not provide sufficiently wide protection to families for migrants and refugees. Ireland is the only European Union Member State that does not have rules for family reunification for refugees and long-term migrants (including EEA migrant workers) set out in law and it has opted out of the EU Directive on the Right to Family Reunification (2003/86/EC). Currently applications are processed by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS), and the decision is made at the discretion of the Minister for Justice and Equality. If an application for family reunification is refused, there is no independent appeals mechanism and the only available way to seek redress is to judicially review the decision in the High Court. This is expensive and does not represent an adequate remedy as the judge cannot decide on the substantive issue. Furthermore, civil legal aid is not routinely available for these proceedings.1 The Policy Document on Non-EEA Family Reunification published by the Department of Justice and Equality in 2013 does not address many of the issues faced by families seeking to reunite in Ireland. 2 One of the main concerns is the requirement to meet a high income threshold and the disproportionate impact on particular groups seeking to reunite with their immediate family members.3
FLAC urges the Committee to recommend that the State:
Introduce primary legislation to govern family reunification and an independent Immigration Appeals Tribunal to provide an inexpensive and effective process to applicants. Applicants should be supported by the Legal Aid Board where necessary.
1 Immigrant Council of Ireland (2013) Family Reunification: a barrier or facilitator of Integration? Ireland Country Report, Brussels: European Commission, p.44.
2 Immigration and Naturalisation Service (2013) Policy Document on Non-EEA Family Reunification, Dublin: Department of Justice and Equality.
3 Immigrant Council of Ireland, ‘New Family Reunification Guidelines Fail to Resolve Many Issues’, [press release], 8 January 2014.
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