“The family unit has a better chance of successfully… integrating in a new country rather than individual refugees”
UNHCR, Family Protection Issues, 1999
Nasc believes family reunification is a key element in the successful integration of migrants and refugees. Refugee family reunification – governed in legislation by the International Protection Act, 2015, and non-refugee family reunification – facilitated through Guidelines for non-EEA nationals – form a core part of our legal service provision, and are therefore priority areas of our campaigning work.
Return family reunification rights to beneficiaries of international protection (refugee and subsidiary protection)
“[Family separation] is a break, it is a wound that I don’t have any words to describe. It is terrible, you feel it. And when you put the family together you can’t find a word to describe the happiness because it is the way it just has to be, it is a complete.
The International Protection Act 2015 introduced significant new restrictions on the right to family reunification for refugees and persons eligible for subsidiary protection. This has had a devastating impact on the refugees we work with. It means that adult refugees can no longer apply to be joined by any extended family members including their parents, children aged over 18, non-biological children who form part of the household but have not been formally adopted. It also introduced a time limit on applications. Refugees now lose the right to apply for family reunification 12 months after they are granted status. For those who are separated by war or conflict or who have family members imprisoned unjustly, it can take years to track down their family.
In the last Oireachtas, Nasc worked closely with Senator Colette Kelleher and the Civil Engagement Group, Deputy Fiona O’Loughlin and NGO partners the Irish Refugee Council and Oxfam Ireland to introduce a Private Members Bill amending the family reunification provisions in the 2015 Act and restoring family reunification rights. The Bill received widespread support and the Oireachtas Committee on Justice and Equality recommended that the Bill be passed however the government refused to pass a 'money message' and the Bill lapsed with the dissolution of the Dail and Seanad in January 2020.
We are now calling on a new government to enact legislation which would restore the family reunification rights removed by the International Protection Act 2015. We want to ensure that same-sex couples have the right to family reunification, extended family members including parents or young adult children are included and we want the 12 month time limit removed.
Please take action to restore family reunification rights by writing to your local TD.
Legislate for non-refugee family reunification
At present Irish citizens and migrant workers do not have a legislative right to family reunification with immediate family members. A framework facilitating family reunification for all legal residents of Ireland is desperately needed. Irish legislation in relation to family reunification should be brought into line with the provisions of the EU Directive on the Right to Family Reunification. Ireland has opted out of this Directive, causing us to fall behind best practice in the EU.