High numbers of Syrians and Iraqis refused family visas

Ireland must not ‘go low’ and follow US lead in visa restrictions, says migrant group

Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald said 27 requests from Syrians for family members to join them in Ireland have been refused since the beginning of last year. Photograph: Eric Luke

Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald said 27 requests from Syrians for family members to join them in Ireland have been refused since the beginning of last year. Photograph: Eric Luke

 

Significant numbers of families from Syria and Iraq living in Ireland who have applied for family reunification visas are being refused by the State, according to official figures.

In a parliamentary reply, Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald said 27 requests from Syrians for family members to join them in Ireland have been refused since the beginning of last year.

Eighteen requests by Iraqis living in Ireland to reunite families were refused in the same period, along with eight from Afghanistan, five from Turkey, four from Jordan, three from Lebanon and three from Yemen.

Expressing “deep concern”, Nasc, the Irish Immigrant Support Network, said many of the refusals affect elderly parents, women and children seeking to join relatives already in Ireland.

International Protection Act

The introduction of the International Protection Act has changed Ireland’s refugee application figures from December 2016, eroding family reunification rights for refugees, Nasc complained.

Under the law, refugees are only able to apply for their spouse and their children - if those children are under 18 - to join them. Refugees under 18 are also entitled to apply for reunification with their parents under the law.

Reunification with grandparents, siblings, children over 18 or grandchildren is no longer eligible under the law.

“Given current anti-Muslim trends globally and the attempted introduction of extreme border controls in the United States in recent weeks, we must be especially vigilant in ensuring that Ireland does not ‘go low’ in following America’s lead in this regard,” said Nasc legal services manager Fiona Hurley.

“This is particularly relevant in the context of Ireland’s ongoing ban on visa applications from Libya since 2014,” she said, adding Ireland should show support for those fleeing persecution and violence by renewing its commitment to reuniting families, and by condemning policies that would endanger a human rights response to global crisis.

*This article was amended on 17/02/17