Immigration Questions

Being Undocumented


Online Registration Renewal

Being Undocumented

These are the most common questions we get from people who are undocumented in Ireland. Don’t take risks – if you need help, please contact us: it’s safe and private. You can also become a member of Justice for the Undocumented, meet other undocumented people and campaign for a pathway to papers for undocumented workers and families – email for more info. Stay safe and know that you’re not alone.

Legal disclaimer

These materials have been prepared by the Migrant Rights Centre Ireland (MRCI) for information purposes only with no guarantee as to accuracy or applicability to a particular set of circumstances. The materials are not intended and should not be considered to be legal advice. The information given may change from time to time and may be out of date. The Migrant Rights Centre Ireland disclaims any legal responsibility for the content or the accuracy of the information provided. MRCI is not a practising law centre.

Is there a scheme for undocumented people to regularise their situation in Ireland?

Not yet. The government has committed in writing, for the first time ever, to introduce a regularisation for undocumented people.

A regularisation means a way for undocumented people to come forward safely to apply for a legal status.

This commitment is a historic development for undocumented people in Ireland. However, there is no scheme in place just yet and no way to apply yet.

When will the regularisation scheme for undocumented people begin?

We don’t know yet. Government has committed to introducing this regularisation scheme within 18 months of taking office. They took office in June 2020. That means a deadline of the end of 2021 but we hope to see the scheme long before that.

Who will be able to apply for the scheme, what are the criteria?

We don’t know yet. The government has not yet said what criteria people need to meet or what documents are required for this scheme. However, our Justice for the Undocumented campaign will be pushing hard with the Minister for Justice and her officials to ensure the scheme comes in quickly and includes as many undocumented people as possible. They did say they will publish a policy paper about it before then end of 2020 and this should give us an idea of what criteria they are considering.

How can I stay updated about progress on a scheme?

The progress on this issue is down to the hard work of undocumented people in our Justice for the Undocumented group who have been campaigning for the last 10 years on this issue.

If you are undocumented we would strongly encourage you to stay connected to the news on regularisation and eligibility criteria by joining the JFU campaign group.

Once MRCI has more news on eligibility criteria, documents requirements, etc. we will share information via email and on our social media channels. Please stay patient and connected with us!

Can I get a PPS number?

There is a serious risk in applying for a PPS number when undocumented. If you are thinking of doing this please contact MRCI first so we can advise you on your individual case.

Can I access healthcare?

Yes you can get healthcare and medical treatment. Check out to see what’s available in your local area. In Dublin, you can also access a free medical check up through the Capuchin Day Centre or Safetynet.

What about serious health issues?

You can access medical treatment for serious issues in hospitals in Ireland. They will request a PPS number but even if you don’t have one you should still be able to access treatment. It is very unlikely they will deny you the treatment because you don’t have a PPS number. We recommend you access the healthcare and then if there is a fee you can deal with this afterwards.

Undocumented people are generally not entitled to medical card (for free medical treatment in hospitals) but can get one on case-by-case basis e.g. if you need emergency cancer treatment or an operation. In this case you can get assistance from your attending social worker in the hospital.

Can I access education for me or my child?

Undocumented children can access primary and secondary school free of charge. The principal will probably ask for a PPS number but they cannot deny access to your child. Unfortunately when they go on to access university the same large fees apply to them as undocumented adults.

You can access third level education but would need a PPS number to get a certificate on completion. You can access FETAC or university courses. The major issue is that undocumented people will be subject to very large international fees for university courses in Ireland. There are free English Language courses available from Fáilte Isteach.

Can I open a bank account?

Yes you can. There is no risk involved, but they may ask for a PPS number (see above). You will need the following:

  • ID
  • PPS number
  • Proof of address
  • Utility (electricity/phone) bill in your name (you may need to get your housemate to put your name on the bill if you aren’t currently named on any bills)

Can I access social welfare? (unemployment benefit)

Unfortunately there is no access for undocumented people. The only exception is for an exceptional needs payment (ENP) but this is very difficult to secure and is done on a case-by-case basisOnly apply for this if absolutely necessary as you would be calling attention to your status.

Can I report a crime?

Being undocumented does not prevent you from reporting a crimeIt is best to contact MRCI first and we can accompany you to do this with the minimum risk.

Some undocumented people have been asked for Garda Vetting in order to secure employment. There should be no issue or risk involved in this, the section involved will not ask for immigration status.

Can I access housing assistance or homeless accommodation?

Wherever you are in Ireland, Focus can help you. In Dublin, the Capuchin Centre can provide free food and a health check up. You can also access Dublin City Council Homeless Section and Central Placement Service at Parkgate Hall, 6-9 Conyngham Road, Dublin 8.

How do I find a job?

We find the best way to find work is to build connections with other undocumented people. They can share information with you on safe employers and jobs available. Get involved with Justice for the Undocumented (JFU) and we can put you in touch with other undocumented people – email, it’s safe and confidential. Some undocumented people also risk using Gumtree and other job sites but if doing this you need to be careful with the employer and sharing your status.

What rights do I have in work?

As a worker, even if you are undocumented you still have FULL labour rights. This includes

  • the right to minimum wage
  • paid notice if your employment is terminated.

If you think your rights are not being met, please talk to MRCI. Make sure to record your hours of work or any incident in the workplace. There can be a danger in reporting but if you speak with us we will advise if you should do it or not.

What do I do if my workplace is raided?

If you are undocumented and have been recently in contact with the Gardaí (police) following an investigation at your workplace or elsewhere, please remember the following:

  • You must provide them with an address
  • It is important that you reside in that address.  Failure to do so can result in your future arrest.
  • There is NO SUMMARY DEPORTATION (being picked up and put in a plane) in Ireland. This means that no one can send you away from Ireland before following a legal process.
  • You might be put on what is called a section 14(1) notice. This requires that you live at a certain address and you report to a Garda station at a given time and date.
  • We recommend you do not ignore this – remember to sign on or you will be in breach of your order. If you need assistance with amending this order (you move for example) you can speak with us about this.

Can I get a work permit?

We believe it is not possible to get an employment permit without an up to date immigration status. If you apply you may put yourself at risk of deportation. Please stay safe! If you are being promised a work permit and are undocumented please come to MRCI for more information. We will explain to you the risks involved and the chances of success and you can then make up your own mind.

Can I get married here in Ireland?

All undocumented migrants can apply for a marriage licence. Yes, the form asks for immigration status but being undocumented does not prevent anyone from obtaining a marriage licence. You need a PPS number and other supporting documents (e.g. birth cert etc). Everyone will be called for an interview like everybody else where their relationship will be “assessed” as “genuine or not”. If you have a complaint in Dublin write to the Registrar

Can I go home and come back?

It is extremely high risk to leave the country and try to come back. You should only do this if completely necessary. You may be unable to re-enter the country on your return.

Assistance is available for going home permanently if experiencing financial difficulties.

What is a Section 3?

If you are issued with an intention to deport letter from INIS and a Section 3 Form DO NOT IGNORE THIS CORRESPONDENCE. Contact your legal representative or engage a qualified lawyer.

An intention to deport process gives you 3 options:

a) To consent to deportation

b) To return voluntarily to your country of origin

c) To make representation to the Minister of Justice and apply for a Leave to Remain on Humanitarian grounds (Section 3 form)

We recommend that you seek legal representation ASAP. Failure to respond to intention to deport letter and make representations within requested timeframe could lead to deportation order served against you.

Can I enter this process voluntarily?

Yes you can BUT it is very difficult to be successful and should only be a last resort. MRCI can advise on your chances of success to help you make an informed decision. It can take between 1 month and 3 years for response. You should always view and retain a copy of your application. Make sure to follow up on your application and notify INIS on any change of address/contact details.

What happens if I am refused humanitarian leave to remain from Section 3?

You will be issued with a letter stating the refusal. We do not recommend you ignore this letter or hide – we recommend you report to the Gardaí on schedule. You can apply for revocation or injunction through a solicitor. It is very hard to overturn a deportation order as this requires extensive legal work.

If you hold a deportation order and have been recently in contact with the police following an investigation at your workplace or other place, please remember the following:

  • You may have been issued a deportation order in the past without your knowledge. This may be for a number of reasons; you could have failed to respond to correspondence as a result of changing your address or post not reaching you.
  • Once you have been issued a deportation order, you are required to comply to certain terms – these include residing at one single address and notifying the authorities of any change. If you fail to do so, you will be categorised as evading a deportation order and be liable for arrest.

If you are arrested and detained, remember that you are entitled to an interpreter and a phone call. You are also entitled to engage a solicitor at your own cost.

The maximum length of detention is 8 weeks, after which if they fail to enforce your deportation they should release you. If you are released you should comply with the terms and conditions stipulated – namely residing at the given address and reporting upon request.

What is a section 14 Notice?

When you have come to the attention of the immigration officer and a document is given to you as a reporting mechanism. Your passport will be taken and you will be asked to report to GNIB on the date indicated in the document. Ask for help from MRCI or solicitor.


The Immigration Service have introduced a NEW PRE-CLEARANCE policy for certain categories of Non-EEA nationals who are seeking to reside in the State. Obtaining a preclearance makes the immigration process easier when you arrive at border control and when you register your immigration permission.

Legal disclaimer

These materials have been prepared by the Migrant Rights Centre Ireland (MRCI) for information purposes only with no guarantee as to accuracy or applicability to a particular set of circumstances. The materials are not intended and should not be considered to be legal advice. The information given may change from time to time and may be out of date. The Migrant Rights Centre Ireland disclaims any legal responsibility for the content or the accuracy of the information provided. MRCI is not a practising law centre.

What is pre-clearance?

Pre-clearance is when non-EEA nationals get permission to enter the State before travelling to Ireland.

Who needs pre-clearance?

Certain categories of both visa and non-visa required non-EEA nationals can apply for pre-clearance before entering Ireland, depending on the purpose of your visit.

How can I apply?

You need to complete a pre-clearance form (follow the links above) and pay a fee of €100 for each application.

How will I know if my application is approved?

You will be issued with a pre-clearance letter which is valid for 6 months. You will need to submit a new application if you do no not use it in time. If you are a visa-required national and have received the pre-clearance letter, you need to apply for a visa online before coming to Ireland.

How will I know if my application is refused?

You will receive a letter of refusal outlining the reasons in writing. 

How can I make an appeal?

You will have a chance to make an appeal of this decision within 6 weeks from the date of the letter and the appeal process is free of charge. DO NOT ATTEMPT to come to Ireland without pre-clearance letter (and a visa if applicable) as you will not be allowed into the country.

Where will I present this pre-clearance letter?

You will show the original valid pre-clearance letter (together with a visa if applicable) to the immigration officer at the border upon arrival in Ireland.

However, your preclearance letter and visa does not guarantee your entry in the State.

If successful, you will be given permission to enter which allows you to stay for a maximum of 3 months.

Important note

If you are a non-EEA national in Ireland and will stay longer than 3 months, you must register at the Burgh Quay Registration Office if you live in Dublin and at your regional registration office or local Garda office if you are from outside Dublin.

Online Registration Renewal

The Minister for Justice and Equality has introduced a new online immigration registration renewal system for all non-EU/EAA nationals based in Dublin.  This scheme applies to all non-EEA nationals who have previously registered with Immigration Service Delivery (ISD) will be able to renew their IRP cards through an online application system.

Note: If you qualify for online renewal you can no longer present in person, so you must apply under the new scheme.

Legal disclaimer

These materials have been prepared by the Migrant Rights Centre Ireland (MRCI) for information purposes only with no guarantee as to accuracy or applicability to a particular set of circumstances. The materials are not intended and should not be considered to be legal advice. The information given may change from time to time and may be out of date. The Migrant Rights Centre Ireland disclaims any legal responsibility for the content or the accuracy of the information provided. MRCI is not a practising law centre.

Who can apply for this service?

This scheme applies to ALL non-EEA nationals residing in Dublin, who have previously registered with Immigration Service Delivery (ISD).

How can I submit my application?

You can submit your application and all supporting documents online, including the payment of registration fees. However, you need to send your original valid passport, original Irish Registration Card (IRP) and a copy of the acknowledgement email to the Immigration Services by registered post. 

How much do I need to pay?

You must pay the standard fee of €300 online. There is no extra charge. 

What documents must I submit by post?

You need to submit your original passport in order that it can be stamped with your new permission stamp, and your IRP card so that it can also be updated. Your passport will be stamped with the relevant immigration stamp and returned to you by post.  Your IRP card will be returned to you by post separately. 

Where do I post my supporting documents?

Submit your application online and place the required documents i.e. the original in-date passport, the original IRP card and a copy of the confirmation page in a strong envelope.



OREG, Immigration Service Delivery, 13-14 Burgh Quay, Dublin 2 D02XK70.


Please Note: Documents sent by ordinary post will not be processed, and you cannot deliver your passport by hand to the INIS office