The Asylum process will decide whether you are a refugee or not. If you are declared a refugee you will have certain rights to reside in Ireland, the right to have certain family members reside with you and the right to work.
- Application Form
You are required to complete an application form given to you by the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner. This document is the basis of your asylum claim and it is very important that you give a full account in the document of the reasons why you left your own country. You are then required to return the application form to the office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner.
When the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner are ready to deal with your application they will call you for an interview. You will be interviewed and an interpreter should be available if necessary. The interviewer will ask questions based on the information contained in your application form. Again it is important that you give a full account of the reasons why you left your country and why you cannot return to it. Any information that is left out of your application form or your interview cannot be considered by the Refugee Applications Commissioner when a decision is being made whether you should be declared a refugee or not. At the end of the interview the interview notes will be read back to you and you will be asked to sign them to confirm that they are correct. Following the interview you have seven working days to make further written submissions to the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner if you wish.
You may be asked to provide documents or information to the Refugee Applications Commissioner within a fixed period of time – as in your Passport/ Birth or Marriage certificate and/or medical certificates. Any documents that you can provide to support your claim for refugee status could be of great assistance.
- Decision of the Refugee Applications Commissioner
After seven working days the Refugee Applications Commissioner will then make a decision whether to make a recommendation that you be declared a refugee. In making the decision the Refugee Applications Commissioner considers the definition of a refugee.
Section 2 of the Refugee Act 1996 provides that a refugee is:
“a person who, owing to a well founded fear of persecution, for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his or her nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear is unwilling to avail himself or herself of the protection of that country…”
If the Refugee Applications Commissioner recommends that you be declared a refugee you will be told this by letter. You should then receive a letter from the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform setting out your rights. If the decision is negative you will also be told by letter and you will have either ten (10) or fifteen (15) working days from the date of the letter to appeal if you wish to do so. These are strict time limits.
- Appeal to the Refugee Appeals Tribunal
If you appeal and ask for an oral hearing the hearing will take place before the Refugee Appeals Tribunal. If this happens your appeal will be decided on the basis of the documents sent to the Tribunal on your behalf in the form of a Notice of Appeal. This form has four sections and contains your (i) Personal details (ii) Legal Representation (iii) Grounds of Appeal (iv) Communications to the Tribunal.
- The Hearing
The oral hearing is different from the interview with the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner. Instead of being interviewed, firstly you are questioned by your own legal advisor (an interpreter will be present if necessary) then you are questioned by a representative from the Refugee Applications Commissioner. The Refugee Appeals Tribunal member, who is the person hearing the appeal and making the decision, may also question you.
- Decision of the Refugee Appeals Tribunal
The Refugee Appeals Tribunal member will normally issue a decision within a number of weeks of the hearing. The decision will be either to recommend that you be declared a refugee or not. If the Refugee Appeals Tribunal’s decision is positive you will be told this by letter. You will also get a letter from the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform informing you of your rights. If the decision is a refusal the Refugee Appeals Tribunal will advise you of this by letter.
- Refusal of the Refugee Status
If you have been refused refugee status on appeal and the decision cannot be challenged it is likely that you will receive a letter telling you that the Minister intends to deport you. You will then have a choice of:
- making an application to the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform for permission to remain in the State.
- Voluntarily repatriating
- consenting to a Deportation Order.
10 Deportation Order
If you are not declared a refugee, or granted permission to remain in the State or if you do not choose to voluntarily repatriate you will then be served with a Deportation Order.