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Immigration law is a complex area, so whilst we have provided some basic definitions below for your reference, it is useful to conduct your own research into this area or consult an expert where relevant.

Asylum seekers are people seeking protection as refugees, who are waiting for the authorities to decide on their applications. They are legally entitled to stay in the state until their application for protection is decided. They also have a right to a fair hearing of that application and to an appeal if necessary. There is no such thing as an illegal asylum seeker – everyone has the right to have their claim considered. In Ireland the application process is long and complicated, it can take years.

Refugee The meaning of the term refugee in international law is someone who, ‘owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside of their country of nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail themselves of the protection of that country; or who, not having a nationality and being outside of the country of their former habitual residence is unable or, owing to such fear, unwilling to return to it.’

Migrant someone who changes his or her country of usual residence, irrespective of the reason for migration or legal status. Generally, a distinction is made between short-term or temporary migration, covering movements with a duration between three and 12 months, and long-term or permanent migration, referring to a change of country of residence for a duration of one year or more.

Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children Children under 18 years of age, who are outside their country of origin, and separated from both parents and their previous/legal customary primary caregiver. Young people who fall into this category are under the care of the Health Service Executive (Tusla) in Ireland.

International Protection Office (formerly the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner – ORAC) The International Protection Office (IPO) is the office responsible for processing and deciding applications for international protection under the International Protection Act 2015. It also considers, as part of a single procedure process, whether applicants should be given permission to remain.

Direct Provision The system for accommodating people in the asylum process in Ireland. People are accommodated in communal accommodation centres which are run on a for-profit basis by private contractors. The centres provide food, board and for people’s basic needs. In addition to bed and board people receive a weekly cash allowance of €38.80 per adult and €29.80  per child and a medical card. While in this process people are not entitled to usual social welfare payments, although they may apply for an exceptional needs payment from the local Community Welfare Officer. The weekly allowances and exceptional payments are awarded on a discretionary basis by the Department of Social Protection.

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