Minister McEntee confirms opening of Afghan Admission Programme
- Programme will open for applications on 16 December for eight weeks
- Up to 500 places available on the Programme
- Current or former Afghan nationals living in Ireland can apply for temporary residence for 4 close family members
- Priority will be given to those most vulnerable including: older people, children, women and girls and people with disabilities
14 December 2021
The Minister for Justice, Helen McEntee TD, has today confirmed that the Afghan Admission Programme will open for applications this Thursday, 16 December 2021.
The Programme will enable current or former Afghan nationals living legally in Ireland to apply to have their close family members, who are living in Afghanistan or who have recently fled to territories bordering Afghanistan, to apply for temporary residence in Ireland.
Up to 500 places will be available on the Programme, which is a key part of the Government’s response to the evolving humanitarian situation in Afghanistan.
Outlining the Programme, Minister McEntee said:
“I am delighted to now be able to confirm that we are opening the Afghan Admission Programme for applications. I am very conscious of the plight faced by the Afghan people following the collapse of the former Afghan government and the takeover by the Taliban.”
“A reversal of human rights, increased violence and fear of reprisals has led to a large number of displaced people seeking help. Understandably, it has also been a very worrying time for the Afghan community living in Ireland as they fear for the safety of their family members in Afghanistan or displaced to neighbouring countries.”
“In processing applications, we will be prioritising those who are especially vulnerable and whose freedom and safety is most at risk, like older people, children, single female parents, single women and girls and people with disabilities. We will also give priority to people whose previous employment exposes them to greater risk, for example UN and EU employees and people who worked for civil society organisations.”
The Programme is part of a co-ordinated national response, in conjunction with the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, to the crisis in Afghanistan.
Welcoming the announcement, Minister of State at the Department of Justice, James Browne TD, said,
“In opening the Programme for applications we are delivering on the commitment made by the Government on behalf of the Irish people. I want to thank the Afghan community in Ireland for their patience while we worked to finalise the details of the Programme.
“Our objective is to ensure that applications can be processed as quickly as possible and the criteria have been developed with this in mind. I look forward to welcoming the first family members to Ireland under the Programme in the near future”.
As part of this response, an additional 500 places have been made available through the Irish Refugee Protection Programme for refugees from Afghanistan since 31 August 2021. The Department of Justice has provided the visa waivers to facilitate their travel to Ireland.
The Department has also provided assistance to Afghan nationals through the statutory family reunification provisions.
Minister McEntee concluded,
“Family reunification avenues have already enabled many Afghan nationals to join their families here in Ireland. So far this year, 110 Afghan nationals have been granted a statutory Family Reunification permission under the International Protection Act 2015. My Department has also issued 102 Join Family visas to Afghan citizens since August 2021.
“Combined with the 500 available places on the Programme that we are announcing today, this represents a very high level of support for the 1,200 strong Afghan community currently living in Ireland.’’
The Afghan Admission Programme is guided by the previous Syrian Humanitarian Assistance Programme (SHAP) and the IRPP Humanitarian Assistance Programme (IHAP) schemes, which also provided for the nomination of limited numbers of close family members.
The Programme will open for applications on 16 December 2021 and applications will be accepted for a period of eight weeks until 10 February 2022. The application form and guidance material to help with completing an application will be available on the Department’s Irish Immigration website (www.irishimmigration.ie) on 16 December 2021.
Notes for editors
- The Programme is open to current or former Afghan nationals living legally in Ireland (on or before 1 September 2021) to apply to have their close family members, who are living in Afghanistan or who have recently fled to territories bordering Afghanistan, to apply for temporary residence in Ireland.
- The eligible neighbouring countries are: Iran, Pakistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.
- The Programme will allow the applicant to nominate up to four family members to be considered for approval to join them in Ireland. If approved a family member would qualify subject to the availability of places under the Programme. There will be 500 places overall, which will be awarded to those deemed most at risk.
- The applicant is required to list their four nominated family members in order of priority, in terms of their vulnerability and risk to their freedom and safety. The information they provide on each family member in this regard will be important in assisting determination of who is deemed most vulnerable in determining granting of places.
- The Programme outlines the intended family members who would be covered by the Scheme, that is: a spouse, civil partner, defacto partner, their minor children and adult children where they are unmarried and do not have dependents. It will also allow the applicant to nominate a grandparent or a related minor child without parents where the applicant has parental responsibility. The applicant can also nominate a vulnerable close family member who does not have spouse, partner or other close relative to support them.
- It is important to note that the eligibility criteria requires that the applicant must be able to maintain their nominated family members, including to provide them with accommodation. They would also have responsibility for covering travel costs.
- Those who can avail of the other avenues already in place whereby Afghan nationals might lawfully enter the State should continue to do so.