Marwan* came to Ireland in 2014 from Syria. His brother Basel*, an Irish citizen, had been settled in Ireland since the early 2000s. Basel was able to sponsor Marwan to come to Ireland through the Syrian Humanitarian Admission Programme in 2014. The SHAP was a once off programme designed to allow Syrians in Ireland to apply to sponsor their family members’ visas for Ireland. The programme was open for a short (5 weeks) period in 2014.
Marwan arrived in Ireland in 2015 with a visa. He was not given permission to bring his young wife and baby with him however the family felt he was at most risk of conscription, so he would leave Syria and try to find work in Ireland and send for his family as soon as possible. Marwan found work immediately on arriving in Ireland and began saving immediately to build up finances to sponsor his own wife and child. He lived in constant worry – each time the phone line dropped while he was talking to his wife and he wasn’t able to get in contact with her again for several days, he feared the worst. Their home had been destroyed by shelling, so his wife and son moved around between extended family members, often forced to leave cities as the conflict escalated.
Marwan came to Nasc for assistance in applying for his family and was shocked to discover that his immigration status precluded him from applying for visas for his family. Marwan applied for refugee status and got notice that he would be granted less than one year after applying however there was a considerable administrative delay in providing him with the correct documents evidencing his refugee status. During that time, he was unable to travel to see his family. This was particularly difficult for him as both as he remained constantly worried for his wife and son and as his son began to forget who he was and started calling him uncle.
Nasc worked with Marwan to get the correct documentation for him and used the time waiting to begin preparing a family reunification application. By the time Marwan’s official documentation came through, we were immediately ready to make the family reunification application. Within less than 9 months (average timeframe = 14 months) Nasc had secured family reunification for Marwan’s wife and son. We then worked with him to secure the visa stamps arranging for the applications to be routed through Damascus. We were able to put Marwan in contact with the IOM and make an application for their family reunification travel assistance programme. This meant that the IOM were able to arrange safe travel for the family out of Syria and meant that an IOM worker was able to meet Marwan’s wife and son at the airport at each transit point to ensure that there would be no problems along the way. Marwan’s family arrived in Ireland at the beginning of August.