As part of the asylum process, people seeking international protection are subjected to close investigations in a strange environment without a clear understanding of what is expected. An alien and often debilitating experience, it can exacerbate the trauma of those seeking protection. Through the Irish Refugee Council Independent Law Centre, we provide legal advice for people in this early stage of the asylum process, in advance of their interview with the International Protection Office

Early Legal Advice (ELA) is an essential pillar of a meaningful asylum system. Given the complexities of this area and the inherent vulnerability of people seeking protection, early intervention is as valuable and important as it is in other areas of law. The asylum process places a considerable, and arguably unequal, burden on those seeking protection to substantiate their application as soon as possible, cooperate with the decision-maker and meet a particular standard and burden of proof. ELA can assist in discharging this significant burden. 

Innovative Model

Since 2011, our Law Centre has developed an innovative model of free ELA for those in need of international protection in Ireland. The Centre has found that ELA has been particularly important for vulnerable adults who may have difficulty articulating their application, particularly in an unfamiliar environment. 

ELA is also valuable for those who have not yet applied for protection and who wish to make an informed decision about making an application for protection. In providing services at the earliest possible stage, ELA protects the integrity of the process by preventing unnecessary applications for international protection as well as offering comprehensive individualised advice and representation to those in the process. 

ELA Manual

Informed by our work, we have published a manual on providing ELA for people seeking protection which aims to give practical guidance to lawyers, legal advisors and legal representatives, caseworkers and NGOs who give legal advice and assistance to their clients during the first instance protection procedure. Our hope is that the manual will be used across the EU and beyond.  

Download Manual

Read more:

Providing Protection: Access to early legal advice for asylum seekers