Undocumented immigrants begin to receive papers under new scheme

Thousands have completed six-month online application process

The first undocumented people to have their immigration status regularised under a new scheme are beginning to receive their papers.

In December the Minister for Justice, Helen McEntee, announced that a scheme to allow for the regularisation of thousands of undocumented people and their families was being established.

A six-month online application process opened in January for people who meet the criteria, and the first successful applicants under the scheme are now being contacted and told their situations are to be regularised.

"It is incredible to see the first undocumented people receiving the life-changing news of a positive result from their scheme application," said Albert Bello, of the Justice for the Undocumented Group, who has been told his position is to be regularised.


“This stable status we receive will allow us to finally live safely, stand up for our basic rights and live normal lives in our home here in Ireland.”

He said he hoped the announcement that people are now receiving their papers would reassure those who are still fearful that they can apply in safety to have their status regularised.

Irene Jagoba, who came here from the Philippines in 2008, leaving her two children at home with their father, said she could not quite believe that her status was at last being regularised.

“We have been fighting for so long for this. I am going to be able to see my children for the first time in 14 years. You cannot imagine what that feels like.”

The scheme allows people who have been living undocumented in Ireland for four years or more, or three years or more if they have children here, to apply and regularise their immigration status.

Neil Bruton of the Migrant Rights Centre Ireland said he would encourage everyone who is eligible for the scheme to apply before it closes at the end of July.

Anyone who needs help can visit mrci.ie for information and support, he said.

Ms McEntee, when announcing the scheme, said there was no reliable data on the number of undocumented people in the State though studies suggested there might be up to 17,000 undocumented people, including up to 3,000 children.

Colm Keena

Colm Keena

Colm Keena is an Irish Times journalist. He was previously legal-affairs correspondent and public-affairs correspondent