Frequently Asked Questions

Questions and answers about the
asylum system in Ireland.

What is the difference between asylum seekers and refugees?

An asylum seeker is someone who is seeking international protection but whose claim for refugee status has not yet been determined. A refugee is someone who has been granted the status to remain in the country under the 1951 Convention.

Who and how can someone apply for asylum?

The application can be made if the person is in Ireland, and is unable to return to their home country because of fear of persecution.

The International Protection Office (IPO) will review the case. Any negative determination by IPO can be appealed to the International Protection Appeals Tribunal (IPAT).

If the application is successful, the Minister for Justice and Equality will make a declaration that you are entitled to protection.

Requirements for eligibility to apply for asylum:

  • Be unable to go back to their own country (if the person is stateless, this is the country they usually live in) because of fear of persecution.
  • Be unable to live safely in any part of their own country.
  • Have failed to get protection from authorities in their own country.

This persecution must be for one of the following reasons:

  • Race
  • Religion
  • Nationality
  • Political opinions
  • Membership of a particular social group that puts them at risk, e.g. their gender, gender identity, sexual orientation

Applications for asylum can be made at any age. However, in cases of applicants under 18 and alone in Ireland, a social worker will help them decide whether an asylum application is in their best interest.

Note: Applications for asylum aren’t a guarantee to be successful. However, the person can appeal a negative decision.

Are there any exceptions for the applications?

Ireland does not accept asylum applications from citizens of other European Union member states.

Unless it is proven otherwise, the application will not be successful if:

  • The person is a citizen of a country that has been designated as a Safe Country of Origin
  • The person has the right to live in a Safe Country of Origin

A Safe Country of Origin is one that:

  • Respects human rights
  • Offers state protections
  • Does not normally produce refugees

The Minister for Justice and Equality decides if a country is a Safe Country of Origin, in conjunction with the Minister for Foreign Affairs.

If the applicant applied for asylum in another country, they may be returned there for the application to be processed.

What are the types of status that an asylum seeker can get?

If the asylum seeker matches the legal definition of a Convention Refugee, they will be given refugee status in Ireland.

As a refugee they 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. A 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.

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Subsidiary Protection

If the applicant does not qualify for refugee status but is at risk of serious harm if sent home, he or she can get a status called Subsidiary Protection.

The application for Subsidiary Protection can be made at the same time as the application for asylum.

As someone with Subsidiary Protection, will be allowed to stay in Ireland and be given many of the same rights as an Irish citizen.

Permission to Remain

If the applicant does not qualify for refugee status status or for Subsidiary Protection, they may be given permission to stay in Ireland for humanitarian or other reasons. This is called Permission to Remain.

As someone with Permission to Remain they will be given many of the same rights as an Irish citizen.

How to apply for asylum in Ireland?

To claim asylum, the person must be in Ireland and apply.

The International Protection Office (IPO) will then review the case. If the application is successful, the Minister for Justice and Equality will make a declaration statin the entitlement to protection.

It may take weeks or months for the application to be processed. During that time, a safe place to stay and other essential services will be provided.

How does the International Protection Program work?

The International Protection Program is composed of two interviews where the asylum applicants and their applications are examined. During this process, the applicants have the right to legal assistance from the Legal Aid Board (LAB). LAB can help with the application and also attend the interviews, if required.

First interview

After registering the application for asylum officially, the petitioners must go the offices of IPO. Then they will be interviewed and asked to complete a short application form. An interpreter will be provided if necessary. This first interview is to confirm that they want to apply for asylum and to gather basic information about them. During the interview they will be asked to explain why they are claiming asylum.

At the end of the interview, they will be given a longer application form 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 the application.

On the day, a date for returning your application form and a date for the second interview, will be provided.

Second (“substantive”) interview

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

At this interview the candidates will be asked to explain:

  • How they were persecuted in their home country.
  • Why they are afraid to go back to their home country.

They will need to bring any evidence that they have of persecution. This can then be used to support your case.

Asylum decision and next steps

After the second (substantive) interview, IPO will prepare a recommendation about whether the application should be approved. The application should be decided within 6 months. It may take longer in some circumstances.

If the application is successful, the Minister for Justice and Equality will make a declaration that they are entitled to protection. if the application is refused, it may be appeal the decision.

How are the asylum seekers supported during the course of their application?

Temporary Residence Certificate and accommodation

At the end of the initial interview, They will be given a Temporary Residence.

If help with accommodation is needed while the application is being processed, IPAS will arrange a reception centre for the asylum seekers.

At the reception centre, IPAS will review the needs and arrange a place for them to stay.

Support & services for asylum seekers

While the application is being reviewed, a safe place to stay and access to basic services will be offered. This includes food and healthcare, as well as legal services if required for the application.


After you make an application at the International Protection Office (IPO) the IPAS will arrange for you to go to a reception centre, if you have nowhere else to stay.

Accommodation centres are located around Ireland, including former hotels, guesthouses, hostels, and apartments.

Regular meals and other services (eg washing, laundry) are also provided.


Applicants will have access to the same basic health services as an Irish citizen. This includes:

  • Prescriptions for medicine
  • Dental care for your teeth
  • Eyesight tests
  • Pregnancy services
  • Children's health


Children between the ages of 6 and 16 must attend school, the centres with IPAS will organise their enrolment on the local school. School is free although some payments may be needed from time-to-time. Where possible, children will be given language support.

This does not include university education.


If the applicants are living in Accommodation Centres, they will be given a small payment each week to help them buy things like toiletries and clothes.

  • Each adult receives €38.80 per week.
  • Each child receives €29.80 per week.


The Legal Aid Board (LAB) provides legal assistance for the asylum application or appeal.

Transition to independent living

If Refugee or Subsidiary Protection status, or Permission to Remain is granted, IPAS can help to make the transition to independent living.

Other supports

  • Translation
  • Exceptional needs payments
  • English language classes for adults

Permission to access the labour market

International protection applicants can apply for a permission to access the labour market. They may be eligible for this permission, if they have not yet received a first instance recommendation on your international protection application after 9 months.

This permission allows access to employment and self-employment and is valid for 6 months. The permission may be renewed if a final decision on your international protection application hasn’t been received within the 6 months.

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