In recent months Sinnott Solicitors have been contacted by a large number of clients who have been refused permission to enter Ireland at one of the ports of entry for example Dublin Airport. We have noticed an increased trend in leave to land refusals in recent months particularly in relation to certain nationalities. Being refused leave to land (permission to enter Ireland) can be an extremely stressful and shocking experience for many individuals who are coming to Ireland for various purposes such as tourist, to visit family members, to commence a course of studies etc. Quite often it is non-visa required nationals i.e. citizens of countries who not require a visa to travel to Ireland who are refused in circumstances where visa required nationals will have had their case examined by the visa office prior to travel.
According to the Immigration in Ireland Annual Review 2018, 4776 individuals were refused permission to enter Ireland at the port of entry in 2018. Figures are not yet available for 2019, however we have no doubt following recent trends and the increase in numbers of people traveling to Ireland in general, that the number of refusals of entry for 2019 to date has been greater than 2018.
Only last week one of our clients who is a dual Portuguese and Brazilian national was denied entry at the airport, detained by immigration officials who would not accept that he was a national of Portugal and arrangements were made in order for him to be removed from the state. Following swift action from this office, an application for an injunction was made to the High Court to prevent the removal, and our client was thankfully released from custody and allowed to remain in the country. Had the client not contacted our office then he certainly would have been illegally removed from the state in circumstances where the immigration officials refused to accept that he was a Portuguese citizen. This is just one example of a person unlawfully being refused entry to Ireland.
Section 4(1) of the Immigration Act 2004 provides that, an immigration officer may, give to a non-national or place on his or her passport or other equivalent document an inscription authorising the non-national to land or be in the state. A non-national means a person who is not a citizen of Ireland or the United Kingdom and the inscription is the permission to remain stamp placed on a person’s passport upon entry. The provisions of the Immigration Act afford a wide discretion to immigration officers to allow a person to enter the state or to refuse them and it is due to this wide-ranging discretion that the problems arise.
Permission to enter the state can be refused by an immigration officer under the following grounds as set out under section 4(3) of the Immigration Act 2004:
(a) That the non-national is not in a position to support himself or herself and any accompanying dependants;
(b) That the non-national intends to take up employment in the state but is not in possession of a valid employment permit;
(c) That the non-national suffers from a condition set out in schedule 1 of the 2004 Immigration Act;
(d) That the non-national has been convicted either in the state or otherwise, of an offense that may be punished under the law of conviction by imprisonment for one year or by a more severe penalty;
(e) That the non-national, not being exempt, by virtue of an Order under section 17, from the requirement to have an Irish Visa, is not the holder of a valid Irish Visa;
(f) That the non-national is the subject of:
(i) A Deportation Order;
(ii) An Exclusion Order; or
(iii)A determination by the minister that it is conducive to the public good that he or she remain outside of the state.
(g) That the non-national is not in possession of a valid passport or equivalent document issued by or on behalf of an authority recognised by the Government, which establishes his or her identity and nationality;
(h) That the non-national:
(i) Intends to travel whether immediately or not to Great Britain or Northern Ireland; and
(ii) Would not qualify for admission to Great Britain or Northern Ireland if he or she arrived there from a place other than the state.
(i) That the non-national having arrived in the state in the course of employment as a seaman has remained in the state without the leave of an immigration officer after the departure of the ship in which he or she arrived;
(j) That the non-national’s entry into or presence in the state could pose a threat to national security or be contrary to public policy;
(k) That there is reason to believe that the non-national intends to enter the state for the purposes other than those expressed by the non-national;
(l) That the non-national:
(i) Is a person to whom leave to enter or leave to remain in a territory other than the state of the common travel area (within the meaning of the 2005 International Protection Act) applied at any time during the period of 12 months immediately preceding his or her application in accordance with section 2, for a permission;
(ii) Travel to the state from any such territory; and
(iii) Enter the state for the purpose of extending his or her stay in the said common travel area regardless of whether or not the person intends to make an application for international protection.
It is clear from the above that the powers afforded to immigration officers to refuse leave to land are extremely broad and in our experience (k) is the most frequent reason cited by immigration officers for refusing a person entry into the state i.e. that there is reason to believe that the non-national intends to enter the state for purposes other than those expressed by the non-national.
A non-national who has been refused permission under section 4(3) of the Immigration Act 2004 to enter the state may be removed under section 5 of the Immigration Act 2003. Where permission to land is refused an immigration officer must inform the person of the grounds for the refusal in writing.
Where a person is wrongfully refused leave to land, then they may be entitled to damages.
If you are refused leave to land in Ireland at the port of entry, then we advise that you are entitled to seek legal advice and should request to contact a solicitor if this should happen to you. If you are unable to contact a solicitor yourself, then a friend or family member should do so for you. The above example of our client who was refused leave to land last week, and who was a Portuguese national, is just one example of a recent situation which we have come across. In this instance, our client was a Portuguese national but many non-EEA nationals are wrongfully refused entry to Ireland on a daily basis.
If you are refused leave to land in the state, then do not hesitate to immediately contact our immigration department on 01 406 2862 Monday to Friday (9.00am to 5.30pm), or our out-of-hours mobile on 0876218444 if you have a problem outside of usual office hours.