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Press Release

The Migrant Rights Centre Ireland welcomes progress on regularisation scheme for undocumented people but very concerned about potential exclusions

Today, (Friday 23rd April 2021), Minister for Justice Helen McEntee outlined a draft scheme to regularise undocumented people, children and families and launched a consultation process on the terms of the scheme.

Chanasi Potso, Chair of Justice for the Undocumented said, “We have been fighting for this scheme for 11 years. We welcome the work done to get to this point and the consultation process now in place. This provides a chance to get this right and give undocumented people and families the future we deserve. We welcome in the proposal that the scheme will be open by the end of the year and it will operate for six months. We also welcome that successful applicants will be granted unrestricted access to the labour market and have a pathway to citizenship.”

Chanasi continued, “We are all working hard to support ourselves here, even in the pandemic we kept going. We all moved in search of a better life for ourselves and our families. We all had different journeys but we all deserve to be recognised and we feel that broader recognition is needed now. We are concerned that the timeframes proposed will leave many of us behind.”

Neil Bruton, Campaign Lead with MRCI said, “The timeframe criteria of 4 years and 3 years with children would exclude a large number of people and families. We are very concerned that residency prior to becoming undocumented may not count towards this requirement. This will leave significant numbers of undocumented people in extremely precarious positions.”

Bruton concluded, “We are also concerned that all children whose parents do not meet this residency and timeframe requirement will continue to grow up undocumented in Ireland. There is public, political, business and civic support for a broad and inclusive scheme, with entire families putting their hopes on this. We look forward to engaging with Minister McEntee, Minister Browne and Department of Justice to make this scheme as broad and inclusive as possible.”



Caroline França – 083 888 9185

Neil Bruton – 083 426 0081


Notes to Editor

Consultation on the terms of the scheme will begin on Monday 26th, with the input of key stakeholders including MRCI.

The initial criteria proposed by Minister for Justice Helen McEntee are:

  1. To be eligible for the scheme, a person would need to have a period of 4 years residence in the State without an immigration permission, or 3 years in the case of those with children;
  2. Successful applicants would be granted an immigration permission that allows for unrestricted access to the labour market;
  3. Successful applicants could have years of residence with that permission reckonable for the purposes of pursuing citizenship by way of naturalisation.


Programme for Government

  1. 76: “Equality Immigration and Integration

We will:  Create new pathways for long-term undocumented people and their dependents, meeting specified criteria to regularise their status within 18 months of the formation of the Government, bearing in mind EU and Common Travel Area commitments.”


*MRCI Infographic (October 2020)

1,000 survey responses from undocumented people living in Ireland

  • 5% living here for five years or more
  • 93% in employment working to support themselves
  • 70% aged between 24 and 44
  • Many are working in vital sectors of the economy:
    • 27% providing care to older people in private home settings
    • 17% Cleaning and Maintenance
    • 10% Childcare
    • 5% Construction
  • 26% of people did not receive the minimum wage
  • 46% were working more than 40 hours per week
  • 75% of respondents were working in the same job for 3 years or more
  • 83% employed in the same sector 3 years or more