Written Answers. - Asylum Applications.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

141 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the time taken to process an application for residency, refugee or asylum seeking status; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17302/03]

I assume that the Deputy is referring to a situation where a person arrives in this jurisdiction and makes an application for asylum. If successful, a grant of refugee status results in legal entitlement to residency in the State. If unsuccessful, the issue of residency falls to be considered in the context of a proposal to make a deportation order.

In relation to asylum applications, the Government's asylum strategy envisages that such applications should be processed within a six-month timescale. Significant progress continues to be made in relation to the processing of asylum applications, which is evidenced by the fact that the number of cases which are over six months old in the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner, ORAC, and the Refugee Appeals Tribunal, RAT, was in the region of 1,800 at end May 2003 as compared with a figure of 6,500 approximately at end September 2001. The vast majority of these applications are in the final stages of processing. The ORAC is now scheduling for interview in June 2003 some applications made in March 2003.

If a claim for asylum is unsuccessful the person concerned may advance an alternative basis for residing in the State. Generally, the alternative basis claimed was residency in the State on the basis of an Irish-born child. These applications are not being processed at present. In other cases the person is issued with a letter stating the options open at that point, that is, to leave the State before the decision had been made whether or not to make a deportation order in respect of him or her; to consent to the making of a deportation order in respect of him or her; or to make written representations setting out reasons as to why he or she should be allowed to remain temporarily in the State. The timescale for determining whether or not a person is to be deported can vary depending on the circumstances and complexity of the case. It should be noted in that context that the Minister is required to have regard to 12 separate statutory considerations in determining the matter. Consequently, it is not possible to state without the expenditure of a disproportionate amount of resources what the average length of time taken to determine a case is at present.
Question No. 142 answered with Question No. 48.