What is International Protection

International Protection means the recognition by an EU Member State of a non-EU national or a stateless person as a refugee or as a person eligible for subsidiary protection.

The International Protection 2015 sets out the  is the process whereby a person who arrives to Ireland as an asylum seeker can submit their application to be granted Refugee Status or Subsidiary Protection to the Irish authorities.

A person applying for international protection in Ireland will have their claim considered pursuant to s.34 of the 2015 Act which provides that:

An international protection officer shall examine each application for international protection for the purpose of deciding whether to recommend, under section 39(2)(b), that—

(a) the applicant should be given a refugee declaration,

(b) the applicant should not be given a refugee declaration and should be given a subsidiary protection declaration, or

(c) the applicant should be given neither a refugee declaration nor a subsidiary protection declaration.”

Refugee Status

If you match the legal definition of a Convention Refugee, you will be given refugee status in Ireland.

A refugee is defined in s.2(1) of the 2015 International Protection Act as:

“(…) a person, (…), who, owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership of a particular social group, is outside his or her country of nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself or herself of the protection of that country, or a stateless person, who, being outside of the country of former habitual residence for the same reasons as mentioned above, is unable or, owing to such fear, unwilling to return to it”.

As a refugee you can stay in Ireland and will have many of the same rights as an Irish citizen.

Note: A Convention Refugee is someone who matches the definition of a refugee in the Geneva Convention on Refugees.

Programme Refugee is someone who is invited to Ireland by the government, usually in response to a request for protection from the UNHCR. You cannot apply directly to become a Programme Refugee.

Subsidiary Protection

A person eligible for subsidiary protection, means a person who:

  1. is not a national of a Member State of the European Union,
  2. does not qualify as a refugee, [and]
  3. in respect of whom substantial grounds have been shown for believing that he or she, if returned to his or her country of origin, would face a real risk of suffering serious harm and who is unable or, owing to such risk, unwilling to avail himself or herself of the protection of that country”.

Serious harm’ is defined as:

  1. death penalty or execution,
  2. torture or inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment of a person in his or her country of origin, or
  3. serious and individual threat to a civilian’s life or person by reason of indiscriminate violence in a situation of international or internal armed conflict.

Humanitarian Leave to Remain

If a person is refused a declaration of Refugee Status and/or Subsidiary Protection, then the Minister for Justice will then consider whether or not to grant a person permission to remain in the State (Ireland) on a Humanitarian basis.

Factors which are taken into consideration in assessing and application are:

  1. the nature of a person’s connection with the State (Ireland) if any,
  2. humanitarian considerations,
  3. character and conduct both within and outside the State (Ireland) (including criminal convictions),
  4. considerations of national security and public order, and
  5. any other considerations of the common good.

Do you need help with International Protection/Asylum? Contact Sinnott Solicitors Dublin and Cork Today!

How and where to apply for International Protection/Asylum

To claim Asylum/International Protection, a person must be in the Irish State (the 26 counties of the Republic of Ireland) and submit an application.

This can be done at the State borders (airport, seaport etc)  by notifying the authorities that you are seeking to apply for asylum, or by attending the International Protection Office located at 79/83 Lower Mount Street, Dublin 2.

When applying at an airport or seaport, you should tell an immigration officer at Passport Control that you want to apply for asylum.

It is very important that you make it clear that it is your intention to apply for asylum and request the assistance of an interpreter to do so if you do not speak English.

If you do not apply for asylum at the Irish border, you should go to IPO’s offices as soon as possible to submit your application.

Note: If you are detained by An Garda Síochána (Irish police) and wish to apply for asylum, you should inform a police officer. They will arrange for an application to be made for you.

Who can apply for Asylum/ International Protection

A person who is 18 years of age and over and who is at the frontier of the  Irish State (Republic of Ireland) or who is in the State can make an application for international protection

  1. on his or her own behalf
  2. on behalf of another person who is under 18 and for whose care and protection he or she is taking responsibility.

You can apply for Asylum/International Protection in Ireland if you arrive here and cannot return to your home country because of various reasons to include your fear of persecution and/or serious harm if you were to return. 

Your family and their applications for asylum

If you have dependant children under the age of 18 with you in Ireland, they will be automatically included in  your application.

Spouses and other family members, including children over 18 must submit their own separate applications.

If you are under 18

If you are under 18 and you are with an adult relative who is claiming asylum, you will normally be included in your relative’s application.

If you are under 18 and alone, you should tell an immigration officer or police officer at the Irish border when you arrive. If you do not do this, you should go to IPO’s offices as soon as possible.

You will be allocated a social worker who will help decide whether an asylum application is in your best interest. You will also be given access to legal assistance for your application.

The International Protection/Asylum process

First interview

When you apply for International Protection/Asylum you will then be interviewed and asked to complete a short application form. An interpreter will be provided if necessary. This first interview is to confirm that you want to apply for asylum and to gather basic information about you and to assess if you should be admitted to the International Protection Process.

Your biometrics (fingerprints and photograph) will be taken to check whether you previously made an application for international protection in another country.

During your interview you will be asked to explain why you are claiming asylum.


When you visit the IPO, you should bring important documents with you (if you have them). They will help with your application. These include:

  • Passports and travel documents such as air tickets.
  • Identification documents for you (and your children, if any), such as identity cards, birth and marriage certificates or school records.
  • Anything else you think will help your application.

Next Steps

You will be given the International Protection Questionnaire and told about next steps. These are:

  • To complete the application form and return it to IPO.
  • To visit IPO again for a second detailed interview (called the ‘substantive’ interview) to review your application.

You will be given a date when you must return your application form and a date for your second substantive interview.

Note: If you fail to return your application by the specified date or if you fail to come to your interview, your application may be refused.

It is recommended that you obtain legal advice before completing your questionnaire.

It is important that you answer all the questions in the Questionnaire as fully as you can. The IPO will consider this information when making a recommendation about your application. All Questionnaires should be completed in the Applicant’s own language.

Second (substantive) interview

At the second (substantive) interview, you will usually be interviewed alone without family members unless you are a child. An interpreter will be provided, if you need one.

At this interview you will be asked to explain:

  • How you were persecuted in your home country.
  • Why you are afraid to go back to your home country.

You should bring any evidence you have of persecution/fear of serious harm. This can then be used to support your case. 

Note: If you do not attend the substantive interview and do not provide a satisfactory explanation within 3 working days, your application may be refused.

You have the right to legal assistance from the Legal Aid Board (LAB). LAB can help with your application and also attend your interview, if required.

Decision and next steps

After your second (substantive) interview, the IPO will prepare a recommendation about whether your application should be approved. Your application should be decided within 6 months but in reality it usually takes far longer.

It may take longer in some circumstances. 

The International Protection Office (IPO) will review your case and if your application is successful, the Minister for Justice and Equality will grant you a formal declaration of Refugee Status or Subsidiary Protection.  This is an important letter and the original should be stored in a safe place at all times.

If you are refused Refugee Status and/or Subsidiary Protection the Minister will consider your leave to remain application at that point and you will receive a decision on all three applications at the same time.

As above highlighted it may take weeks or months and in some instances years for your application to be processed. During that time, you will be given a safe place to stay and other basic services.

If you are unsure about how to apply of if you have not applied for Asylum immediately, Sinnott Solicitors Dublin and Cork can advise you of the process.

Under the International Protection procedures, if the case is refused at first instance Sinnott Solicitors Dublin and Cork will always check with our Counsel to see if a judicial review of the decision is possible.  If no judicial review is possible then an appeal to the International Protection Appeals Tribunal for an appeal hearing will be made.

If you are unsure about how to apply of if you have not applied for Asylum immediately, Sinnott Solicitors Dublin and Cork can advise you of the process. Contact Sinnott Solicitors Dublin and Cork Today!

Appealing a Negative Decision

If your application for International Protection is refused, then you may appeal the negative decision to the International Protection Appeals Tribunal (IPAT) within 15 working days.

An appeal and legal submissions will need to be lodged with the IPAT.

You will be given the option of having your case assessed by oral or written appeal.

Should you choose the oral option, you will be called to attend an oral hearing at the IPAT in due course. You should always have legal representation when attending your oral appeal.

If you receive a negative decision, then again an opinion should be sought from Counsel as to whether there are any grounds to challenge the refusal by way of Judicial Review.

Family Reunification

If you are granted refugee or subsidiary protection status, you may apply to the Minister for Justice and Equality within one year of the grant of status for certain members of your family to be allowed to enter and reside in Ireland with you.

Only spouses, civil partners (where you were married or in a civil partnership to that person on the date of your protection application), unmarried children under 18 years are eligible. In the case of a minor granted protection, the parents and siblings of applicants who are under 18 years are also eligible to be granted family reunification.

Temporary Residence Certificate and accommodation

At the end of your initial interview, you will be given a Temporary Residence Certificate. This shows that you have applied for asylum in Ireland and that you have permission to stay here temporarily.

If you need help with accommodation while your application is being processed, the International Protection Accommodation Service will arrange for you to go to a temporary reception centre for asylum seekers.

At the reception centre, IPAS will review your needs and arrange a more permanent place for you to stay.  This is known as Direct Provision accommodation.

Right to Work for Asylum Seekers

Since the 2nd July 2018, asylum seekers/international protection applicants are allowed permission to access the labour market, i.e. permission to work in Ireland. and It will be valid for 6 months. You can renew the permission if you have not received a final decision on your international protection application within the 6 months. A final decision means when you have completed all appeals procedures, including judicial review proceedings.


You are eligible to apply if:

  1. You are an international protection applicant; and
  2. You have not received a first instance recommendation within 9 months; and
  3. You are cooperating with the international protection process – delays in receiving a recommendation must not be due to any actions taken by you.

You can apply if you have not received a permission after 8 months. Your permission will become valid after 9 months.

How to apply

You can access the application form here  http://www.inis.gov.ie/en/INIS/form-LMA3.pdf/Files/form-LMA3.pdf

Here is the information leaflet that is available on the Departments website

Information booklet – Labour Market Access for International Protection Applicants (PDF 317KB)

If your application is successful

If your application is successful, Immigration Service Delivery will issue you a permission letter. Once you begin working, your employer must complete the declaration form LMA5 below.

You must also get your employer to complete the declaration form LMA6 below. These forms must be returned to the following address:

Reception and Integration Agency
PO Box 11487
Dublin 2

Related documents

Form LMA5 – Labour market access declaration form (PDF 221KB)

Form LMA6 – Employment income declaration form (PDF 326KB)

Change of name where false name used in asylum application

Whilst a person should always disclose the truth when submitting their application sometimes individuals will present false information when they apply for asylum/international protection due to the fear which they face if returned to their own country.

For a person who uses a false name to claim asylum and who wishes to revert to their original name after their declaration has been granted it is advisable to write to the Department to explain that they have a different name to that submitted in the original application.  They should also submit the passport and ID card from the actual country that they are from or obtain a copy of it from the various country.  Submitting incorrect information may result in persons refugee status/subsidiary declaration being revoked and may have significant consequences in the future  including when applying for Irish citizenship.

For this reason, we would always recommend that a person would seek legal advices when seeking to change their personal information with the Department of Justice and Equality and Sinnott Solicitors Dublin and Cork are experts in handling such applications.

Speak With An Immigration Expert Today.

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