Refugee reunification scheme re-opens with second call for applicants

80 people have been approved under the scheme which seeks to bring 530 refugee family members to Ireland

The Minister for Justice has announced that a family reunification programme launched earlier this year is to re-open until the end of January 2019 after only 80 applicants were approved under the scheme.

The Humanitarian Admission Programme 2 (IHAP), which opened for six weeks in May 2018, was set up to allow up to 530 refugees to join family members in Ireland. However, just 80 people have been approved under the first call which ran between May and June of this year. Those approved under the scheme come from Syria, Afghanistan, Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Somalia and Eritrea.

The Department of Justice has now said it will re-open a second call for applications which runs from December 20th, 2018 to January 31st, 2019. The programme allows Irish citizens of foreign birth, programme refugees and beneficiaries of international protection (those with refugee status) to apply for immediate family members to join them.

People from Syria, Afghanistan, South Sudan, Somalia, Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic, Eritrea and Burundi (the top 10 major source countries for refugees as listed by the UN Refugee Agency) are entitled to apply under the scheme.


Those who wish to apply can download the form by following the ‘Asylum’ heading on the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service website.

The introduction of the scheme comes four years after the State’s 2014 Syrian Humanitarian Admission Programme which enabled Syrians already living in Ireland to sponsor vulnerable family members to join them.

It also follows the introduction of the 2015 International Protection Act which restricted family reunification applications to spouses and children under 18. The introduction of the IHAP scheme will allow a limited number of people to apply for family members such as siblings and elderly parents to join them in Ireland.

Priority will be given to people who are able to provide accommodation for their family members given the high demand on limited housing supplies across Ireland.

Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan welcomed the second call for applicants saying it was prudent to use his ministerial discretion to “prioritise such vulnerable groups experiencing conflict and displacement, and to allow families in Ireland to be completed”.

Sorcha Pollak

Sorcha Pollak

Sorcha Pollak is an Irish Times reporter and cohost of the In the News podcast