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Over 6,000 undocumented apply for 'life-changing' chance to legalise status in Ireland

More than 6,000 undocumented people in Ireland have applied for a special Government scheme to regularise their status in the country.

In excess of 900 people have so far been successful in what has been described as a “once-off” opportunity for people living here without immigration visas to legalise their situation.

The scheme – which is open to applications until July 31 – allows those who are undocumented to work legally and, in time, even apply for citizenship.

Releasing the update, Justice Minister Helen McEntee said: “My department opened the once-in-a-generation scheme for the Regularisation of Long-Term Undocumented Migrants in the State on 31 January 2022 for a six-month period.” 

In reply to a Dáil question, asked by Sinn Féin TD for Kerry Pa Daly, the minister said her department had launched a social media ad campaign directed at the top 10 nationalities eligible under the scheme in their native languages.

📢 Are you currently undocumented and living in Ireland?

🌍 Under the Government's Scheme for Undocumented Migrants you may be able to regularise your situation.

🔗 Visit for more information.#Undocumented

— Department of Justice 🇮🇪 (@DeptJusticeIRL) May 30, 2022

“This campaign will run until the scheme closes at the end of July and further targeted communications will be rolled out in the coming weeks,” she said.

On the figures to date, Ms McEntee said: “As of 30 May 2022, my department has received 4,821 applications in respect of 6,152 people under the scheme and has issued 935 positive decisions so far. Processing of all other applications remains ongoing.” 

She said the scheme is designed to give long-term undocumented people without current immigration permission the chance to regularise their status, access the labour market and begin their path to citizenship.

“The scheme genuinely is a once-off, life-changing opportunity to obtain status in the State,” she said.

“I encourage everyone eligible for the scheme, who has not yet made an application, to do so before the closing date. I can assure people that we are examining applications pragmatically and humanely and we are considering all viable proofs of residence.” 

She said these figures relate to the main strand of the scheme and not the international protection element, which is being processed separately by the International Protection Office of her Department.

The minister said this office has written to approximately 4,000 potentially eligible applicants inviting them to apply. This strand of the scheme is open for applications until 7 August.

Commenting on the update, John Lannon, CEO of Doras, the Limerick-based refugee and migrant rights centre, said: “This scheme is life-changing for many people who have already made Ireland their home, and are contributing enormously in workplaces and communities around the country.” 

He urged the Department to undertake “a major communications drive” in the remaining two months of the scheme, to ensure that everyone who is eligible can apply.

“This needs to reach people in every county, across a wide range of languages and communications channels,” he said.

“In our work at Doras assisting people to apply for the scheme, we’re seeing that the application fee is causing quite a bit of anxiety. 

Coming up with €700 for a family or €550 for an individual application puts quite a strain on people who have very little, or possibly no income.

Mr Lannon added: “Many eligible people have not applied for the scheme yet either because they are not aware of it, or they are fearful to apply, or struggling financially. The government needs to reassure people that it is safe to apply for this scheme, and that supports are available to help them do so. It is vital that people do not miss this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”