Georgians lead Irish asylum claims

Syria tops list of countries from where most new asylum seekers came in 2017

The refugee application centre on Mount Street in Dublin. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

More people from Georgia are now claiming asylum in the Republic than from any other country in the world following a sudden spike over the past two years.

In 2016, Georgians did not feature in the group of five nations that accounted for most asylum seekers; Syria followed by Pakistan, Albania, Zimbabwe and Nigeria.

However, Georgia was close to top of the list of countries from where most new asylum seekers had come in 2017.

Syria topped that list; with 545 of its citizens claiming asylum here. Georgians were next, with 302 making asylum applications in the Republic in 2017.


The increase in the number of Georgians claiming asylum has increased in 2018. In the first 11 months of the year 409 Georgians claimed asylum in the Republic, more than any other nation.

Emigration from Georgia had traditionally been to Russia, until 2000 when a new visa required was introduced by the Russians. Since then, Georgians have emigrated to a wider number of countries, most notably the United States and European Union member states.

Internal conflicts

A recent study by the Georgian authorities said while internal conflicts and a conflict between Georgia and Russia had influenced some to leave, most emigrants did so for other reasons.

“Quality of life, education and healthcare, poverty and economic inequality play a more decisive role than political stability and security,” the research concluded.

More recent changes have also made it easier for Georgians to reach EU countries. And it appears those changes have resulted in the sudden increase of Georgians seeking asylum here.

The Department of Justice noted that from March 2017, Georgians became visa exempt and could travel to and from the Schengen area without requiring an entry visa.

The Schengen area is a group of 26 European countries which have as a block abolished all types of border patrols at their mutual borders. Ireland and the United Kingdom have availed of opt-outs.

However, according to the department, more Georgians had entered the Republic and claimed asylum since it was made easier for them to travel to the nations in the Schengen area.

“Georgian nationals still required a visa to enter Ireland and the United Kingdom,” the department said. “A trend emerged at this time, however, whereby Georgian nationals would travel to Ireland with onward tickets for other Schengen countries and appeared to be just transiting our airports.

“On arrival at an Irish port of entry, however, instead of transiting for an onward flight they would indicate their wish to seek international protection in Ireland.”

On June 16th, 2017, Ireland added Georgia to the list of countries that are transit visa required in Ireland. However, it appears that new measure has not dissuaded Georgians from travelling to Ireland and claiming asylum.

Conor Lally

Conor Lally

Conor Lally is Security and Crime Editor of The Irish Times