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Sunday 9 December 2018

Asylum seekers awaiting status decision will now be able to work in Ireland

Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan. Photo: Mark Condren
Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan. Photo: Mark Condren
Laura Larkin

Laura Larkin

ASYLUM seekers awaiting a decision on their status here will now be able to work in Ireland under new provisions.

Ireland has opted into an EU directive which allows eligible asylum seekers to access the labour market once they have been living in the State for nine months. The move comes following a May 2017 Supreme Court ruling which found that a ban on the right to work for asylum seekers was unconstitutional. 

Under the new scheme a person who has been in Ireland for nine months who has not yet had a decision on their application will be entitled to apply for a work permit, once they have co-operated with the protection process and made "reasonable efforts" to establish their identity.

They will then have to reapply every five months to renew their permit if they are still awaiting a determination or if they are appealing a rejection.

People living in Direct Provision will have the option to source their own accommodation anywhere in the country if they wish to do so after taking up work. 

The weekly allowance of €21.60 paid to people living in direct provision will be reduced or withdrawn on a sliding scale once they have been in work for 12 weeks. 

People may also be required to pay towards the cost of their direct provision accommodation once their earning exceeds certain limits, but this contribution will be capped at around €35 per day which is the cost to the state of providing direct provision per person. 

There is no restriction on temporary or permanent contracts that may be taken up by asylum seekers and they will be entitled to seek work in most sectors with the exception of jobs in the civil and public service, the gardaí, Defence Forces or embassies due residency requirements for these roles .

The bands are due to be published by the Government later this week. Children will not have their allowance withdrawn and will not be charged for accommodation if their parents are working.  

Unlike the interim measure implemented by the Government in the wake of the court ruling there will be no fee for people to apply for a permit.

In a statement, Minister for Justice and Equality, Charlie Flanagan said:

“I am delighted that the Government has approved a broad and generous access to the labour market for qualified applicants amongst a number of other important reforms in a range of areas covered by the Directive including reception conditions for applicants, improved identification of vulnerability and children’s rights. These measures are a further step on the road we have pursued in recent years to significantly reform our protection process. Effective access to the labour market will help to alleviate social and economic exclusion for applicants and avoid long-term dependency on the State. Asylum seekers will have access to additional means to provide for themselves and their families outside of the State’s directly provided services and supports and will be in a better position to play a fuller role in Irish society while their claim for protection is being determined. Ireland is one of the few EU Member States to allow eligible asylum seekers to also engage in self-employment.”

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