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Measures To Expedite International Protection Application Processing.

  • Botswana and Algeria added to Safe Country list – applicants from these countries will receive a decision in less than 10 weeks.
  • Expedited processing for applicants who already have refugee status also introduced.
  • International Protection Office now making 1,000 decisions per month.

As we stated earlier this morning, the Minister for Justice, Mrs Helen McEntee T.D. has this lunchtime updated her Cabinet colleagues on a range of measures which have and will continue to speed up international protection application processing times.

From tomorrow, Botswana and Algeria will be designated safe countries of origin for the purpose of making a claim for international protection in the state. The existing list of safe countries includes Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, Kosovo, Macedonia (Former Yugoslav Republic of), Montenegro, Serbia and South Africa.

Under an accelerated decision making process introduced by the Minister in November 2022, applications from safe countries are currently receiving decisions in less than 90 days.

While people from safe countries are still entitled to apply for international protection and have their application considered thoroughly, they will have to submit serious grounds that the country is not safe in terms of their personal circumstances.

On this point, Minister McEntee said: “My priority is that those who are in need of International protection receive it quickly, and those who are not entitled to it are removed from the system quickly too. This is the hallmark of a robust and rules based immigration system.
Given the difference the accelerated procedure I introduced in late 2022 has had already, I do expect the addition of Botswana and Algeria to have an immediate impact. Cases from those countries designated as safe are currently receiving a decision in less than 10 weeks and applications from people from those countries are down by 38%.
I must emphasise however that an application by a person from a safe country still receives a full consideration on its merit by the International Protection Office. We have seen that in the current list of safe countries, there are still grants in cases where people can show that their personal circumstances mean that their country is not safe for them.”

The Minister also noted new expedited processes for people who apply for international protection in Ireland having already been granted protection status in another EU state: “In July 2022, I introduced a visa requirement for those travelling here on convention travel documents to reduce the number of people claiming international protection when they already have it elsewhere.
To reinforce this, I have also informed Government today of the introduction of an expedited procedure for inadmissible applications by people who already have been granted protection in the EU”.

The Minister also updated the Government in relation to the modernisation process currently underway at the IPO and the subsequent progress on processing international protection applications.

Following significant investment in staff, reengineered processes and technology, the IPO almost doubled the decisions made in 2023, compared to 2022.

Over the course of the last year, the International Protection Office increased the number of monthly determinations to over 1,000 in November 2023, and plans to deliver at least 14,000 decisions in 2024, a further increase of 5,000 cases.

The Minister added: “The International Protection system currently undergoing a significant modernisation programme to ensure it is agile, robust and fully resourced to meet the unprecedented increase in applications in recent years.
Investments to date have significantly improved processing times. Most impressively, there has been a doubling of decisions made in 2023 from the year before.
Over the course of 2024 we aim to even further increase capacity and processing times.
This is all with the aim of ensuring that those who have a right to international protection are given that status as quickly as possible, whilst those who are found to not have that right are removed from the system as quickly as possible too.”

The Minister also today updated Government on the imminent adoption of the Immigration and Asylum Pact at EU level.

The Minister concluded: “The challenges presented by migration and asylum cannot be effectively addressed by any state acting alone in an increasingly globalised and interdependent world. The Pact seeks to establish a more coherent approach across the EU to migration, asylum, integration and border management, fit for the fast moving world of the 21st century.
The Pact aims to provide swift, sustainable and fair procedures for the management of migration and asylum in the EU. It provides for faster and more efficient processing of applications, new accelerated procedures, and a faster returns process.
I am undertaking intensive work to be in a position to advise Government on the implications of opting-in to the Pact. I will bring a recommendation to Government before the end of March”.

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