Tuesday, 7 March 2006

Ceisteanna (440)

John Curran

Ceist:

478 Mr. Curran asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of people who applied for leave to remain here under the Immigration Act 1999 for the years 2003, 2004 and 2005; and the length of time it is currently taking to process such an application. [9353/06]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform)

I presume that the Deputy is referring to applications for leave to remain made pursuant to section 3 of the Immigration Act 1999 as amended. Leave to remain in these circumstances arises where a non-national is served with a notice of intent to deport under section 3(3)(a) of the Immigration Act 1999. Persons served with such a notice of intent, including persons refused refugee status and those otherwise illegally resident in the State, are afforded three options, namely to leave the State voluntarily, to consent to the making of the deportation order or to make representations in writing within 15 working days setting out reasons why a deportation order should not be made and why temporary leave to remain in the State should be granted instead.

Under section 3(6) of the Act the Minister, in determining whether or not to make a deportation order, shall have regard to 11 specified considerations, one of which is any representation made by or on behalf of the person. The determination as to whether a deportation order is made or whether leave to remain is granted is not dependent on whether the person has made representations for leave to remain. Thus, statistics are not maintained to distinguish between cases where representations have been made for leave to remain from those where no such representations were made.

It is not possible to state an average period of time taken to process a case to the point where a person is either granted leave to remain or has a deportation order issued against him or her. In the first place, priority is given to accelerated processing arrangements for nationals of those States which are subject to ministerial prioritisation directions, namely Nigeria, Romania, Bulgaria, Croatia and South Africa. Under these arrangements applications are processed at the initial stage in ORAC in an average of 16 working days, and for appeal determinations in RAT in an average of 14 working days. These five nationalities currently account for almost 40% of all asylum applications. Many persons leave the State or, as explained below, are granted leave to remain arising from a change in their circumstances without having their cases determined in the context of the deportation process described above.

Details of those granted leave to remain in the three years in question, in the context of the deportation process, are as follows.

Year

2003

2004

2005

Temporary leave to remain granted under the Immigration Act 1999

86

207

137

The figures in the preceding table do not include persons who have been granted permission to remain in the State on the basis of parentage of an Irish-born child either under the revised scheme announced in January 2005 or under the earlier arrangements, or those granted residency on the basis of marriage to Irish or EU nationals. Many of these persons would otherwise have been considered for leave to remain in the context of the deportation system described above. For example, in the case of the Irish-born child scheme initiated in January of last year a total of 17,917 applications for leave to remain were received, of which 16,693 were granted.