An amnesty scheme for an estimated 17,000 undocumented people living in the State has begun.
From today those who do not have regularised status in Ireland can apply for the scheme if they have been living in Ireland for four years or more. If they have children it is reduced to three years, and to two years for asylum seekers.
It will allow applicants to access the workforce and go through the process of becoming Irish citizens. It is open until July 31st.
Minister for Justice Helen McEntee described it as a “once-in-a-generation scheme” which will improve the lives of many people who are contributing to Irish society, but who still live in the “legal shadows”.
“This scheme will provide an opportunity for those who meet its criteria to remain and reside in the State and to become part of mainstream Irish society rather than living on its margins,” she said.
Many migrants in Ireland are living with a “cloud hanging over them – the scheme will allow them to get on with their lives”.
As a result of being undocumented, many will not have seen family in years and would have missed important family events.
Would be applicants will have to prove that they live and work in the State through bank accounts and pay slips, Ms McEntee told Morning Ireland. A letter from the school to say children are studying there may also be necessary, she added.
“We will have a team of people working on this. We will examine each and every application and make a decision now,” he said.
A team within the department has been assigned to deal with applicants. “The more people that we have applying, it may take a little bit longer.
“I do hope by that the end of this year, I would like to see people getting positive solutions. We want to move on this as quickly as possible.”
There will be an appeals process to be carried out by somebody who was not involved in judging the original application.
She said there will be a vetting process and those who have a serious criminal record may not succeed in becoming documented. Those convicted of minor offences will not, of itself, be automatically disqualified.
The applications will cost €550 for individuals and €700 for a family though asylum seekers do not need to pay.
All successful applicants over the age of 18 will be required to pay a fee of €300 when they are registering their permission at their local immigration office.
Online applications for the scheme can be made here