On this page, you will find answers to the following questions:

  1. What is international protection?
  2. What steps are involved in the protection process?
  3. How long does the process take? 
  4. Will a lawyer help me?
  5. What should I expect during my substantive interview?
  6. What are my rights and entitlements after I receive status?
  7. Can the IPO prioritise my case?
  8. What is the Safe country concept / accelerated procedure?
  9. Is Nigeria a "safe country"?
  10. What is the Dublin III procedure?
  11. What is the inadmissabilty procedure? 

1. What is International Protection?


This video explains who is eligible for refugee status, subsidiary protection and permission to remain:


This pie chart shows a breakdown of first instance decisions in 2023:
In 2023, after the IPAT appeal, 30% of decisions were overturned (received status) and 70% remained negative.


2. What happens during the international protection process?


This video gives an overview of the steps involved in the International Protection process in Ireland.



The graphic below also shows the steps in the International Protection process:


SP = Subsidiary Protection
PtR = Permission to Remain

3. How long does the process take?

Please be aware that the times stated below are averages. Your case may be decided faster or slower than the average.
If you are experiencing a significant delay, you can email your lawyer and ask them to contact the IPO on your behalf.  However please be aware that, ultimately, the power to schedule interviews rests with the IPO, your lawyer cannot control this. 

When might I receive my first instance decision? 
In 2023, the average waiting time was 13 months - from the initial application (preliminary interview) to the initial decision (the decision which follows the substantive IPO interview).
This was reduced to 8 weeks for accelerated cases. More information on accelerate cases and safe countries below. 

Appeal

In 2023, it took on average 5.5 months to receive a decision from the International Protection Appeal Tribunal (IPAT), following an appeal.

4. Will a lawyer support me with my asylum application?

Yes, but you must make an application to the Legal Aid Board (LAB) for this. Please do this as soon as possible after applying for asylum.
 
All international protection applicants are entitled to free legal aid throughout the asylum process. 

You can apply for legal aid in person or, download the application form online and send it to your local LAB office by post or email. For more details please check out the Legal Aid Board's website
 
This video gives an overview of how to apply for legal aid, as well as the the legal services your representative should offer in support of your application.


5. What should I expect during my IPO interview?

Please make sure to have a consultation with your Legal Aid Board solicitor before your substantive interview with an IPO officer. Your lawyer should help you prepare for your interview.

The video below (available in Georgian, Arabic and Somali ) can also help you understand what to expect during your interview:


6. What are my rights and entitlements after I receive status?

If you are granted a positive decision through the asylum process, you will be granted one of the following:
  • refugee status
  • subsidiary protection
  • permission to remain
With all three options, you will have Stamp 4 status, however there are some differences in terms of family reunification, travel documents and naturalisation as an Irish citizen.

This video explains these differences:


This table also sets out the main differences:

7. Can the IPO prioritise my case? 

Yes, it is possible. However, it does not happen in all cases. 
Which cases can be prioritsed?
Applications can be prioritised for one of the following reasons:
  • an applicant’s health
  • age (an unaccompanied minor or an elderly person)
  • the existence of a medical-legal report in support of their case
  • country of origin
Which countries are on the prioritised list? 

The UNHCR recommends the prioritisation of applications from certain countries, because there is a strong likelihood that citizens from these countries need international protection. This is the current list:

Syria, Eritrea, Afghanistan, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Yemen

What does prioritisation mean?
If your application is prioritised, it means that you may not have to wait as long for your interview. 
If you are from one of the countries on the list and can demonstrate your identity and nationality through identity documents, the IPO may make a decision on your application without conducting a substantive interview. This does not happen in all cases.
I think my case should be prioritised, what should I do? 
You should contact your lawyer to confirm if they have requested prioritsation on your behalf, and if not kindly request that they do this. 
In addition to this, you can write to the IPO yourself asking them to prioritise your case. If you are asking for prioritisation because of your country of origin, please explain in the email what identity documents you have provided (if any). This includes originals and copies.
Please attach copies of any documents to the email as well.
Here is an example of an email:

Name:

Person ID:

 

 

Dear Sir or Madam,

 

I am writing to draw your attention to the fact that I am from [INSERT COUNTRY] which is a prioritised country. I applied for asylum on [X date].

 

I ask that you please prioritise my application as per Paragraph 6 of PRIORITISATION OF APPLICATIONS FOR INTERNATIONAL PROTECTION UNDER THE INTERNATIONAL PROTECTION ACT 2015 (Amended)

 

On [Y DATE], I submitted my original driving licence to your office. I further submitted a copy of my birth certificate, as the original is missing. Please see copies of these documents attached.

 

These are the only forms of national identity that I have. I have never had a national passport.

 

I note section 35 (8) of the International Protection Act 2015 states "A personal interview may be dispensed with where the international protection officer is of the opinion that—
 based on the available evidence, the applicant is a person in respect of whom a refugee declaration should be given".

 

I kindly ask that you dispense with my interview if possible and prioritise my application.

 

8. Safe Countries

The Irish Government has made a list countries that it deems to be generally safe. 
Which countries are deemed safe?
Currently the countries included on the list are:

Algeria, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Georgia, Kosovo, Macedonia (Former Yugoslav Republic of), Montenegro, Serbia; and South Africa.

Please keep an eye on this page because the list could be updated. 

I am from a safe country, what does this mean for my case? 
People who come from "Safe" countries can apply for asylum however they will probably be subject to an accelerated procedure. This means that the IPO may try to process their application very quickly.
If you are from a "Safe" country, the IPO will probably inform you of the date for your substantive interview on the day you apply for asylum. The interview could take place within a couple of weeks. Therefore, it is especially important that you apply for legal aid as soon as possible.
Will I be refused international protection because I am from a "safe" country?
No, even if you are from a safe country, you may be granted refugee status or subsidiary protection.
 This is because the IPO must take into account your individual circumstances before making a decision on your case. As an applicant from a safe country, you may be expected to provide more evidence as to why it is not safe for you to return to your country. 
Can I appeal my decision?
Yes, you can appeal your first instance decision to the IPAT, with the help of your lawyer.
However, because if you are from a safe country, the IPAT might request that the appeal take place without an oral hearing. This means that the IPAT would make a decision on your appeal based on written submissions from your lawyer. You would not have opportunity to speak to the judge who is making the decision. 
If this happens, your lawyer can ask the IPAT conduct an oral hearing. The IPAT can agree to this or refuse. 
9. Is Nigeria on the "safe" country list?
No, Nigeria has not been added to the list. 
However, Nigeria is currently subject to the accelerated procedure, in a similar way to safe countries. 
Please see here for more information.

10. The Dublin III Procedure

If the IPO put your case in the Dublin III Procedure, it means that they believe another EU country is responsible for your case and they want to transfer you back to that country.

You might be put in the Dublin III process if:

  • You were in the asylum process in another EU country or;

  • You spent a period of time in another EU country (the longer you spent in the other country the more likely it is)

If you are given a Dublin III transfer decision, you can appeal this with your lawyer​.

If you are successful in your appeal, you will be given access to the asylum process in Ireland.

The Dublin III process is quite complex, please read here for more information.

My family member applied for asylum in another EU country, can I bring them to Ireland?

If a close family member of yours has applied for asylum in another EU country, it may be possible for them to apply to be transferred to Ireland to reunite with you under the Dublin III regulation.

If the transfer takes place, Ireland would become responsible for processing your family member's asylum application. 

Your family member must start this process as soon as possible after applying for asylum. 

They should speak to their legal representative for assistance. 

11. The Inadmissabilty Procedure

If the IPO find your case to be inadmissible, it means that they are not giving you permission to make an asylum application in Ireland.

Your case might be found inadmissible if:

  • You are coming from the UK – because it is defined as a safe third country or;

  • You had status in another EU country. For example, you had refugee status in Italy or Greece

If you are given an inadmissability decision, you can appeal this with your lawyer​.

If you are successful in your appeal, you will be given access to the asylum process in Ireland.