A plan to allow thousands of undocumented migrants permission to stay in Ireland has been set in motion.
There are up to 17,000 people living in Ireland who are undocumented. Three thousand of these are children.
To apply, applicants will need to have been resident in Ireland for four years continuously.
Minister for Justice Helen McEntee described the scheme as a “once in a generation” for those who fit the criteria.
Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Ms. McEntee said that if an applicant has children the four-year criteria is reduced to three years. A 90-day window has also been built into the scheme for anyone who has had to leave the State for a valid reason.
Explaining this she said: “Once you can show that you’ve had a four-year period upon documentation with potentially that small window, as I said, for humanitarian reasons if somebody has to travel home.
“We want to be as responsive as possible to people’s situations; understanding that it’s never straightforward.”
The scheme will close on July 31. However, concerns have been raised about the application fee which is €550 for a single person and €700 for a family.
Neil Bruton of the Migrant Rights Centre of Ireland, said the group had been campaigning on the issue for eleven years.
“It started with a group of four or five undocumented people who were thinking about how to improve their situation,” he said.
“It has grown into a network of over 2,000 undocumented people who, over the years, have taken action and very bravely come forward to push for regularization.”
He added: “Undocumented essentially means they do not have status. Many would have before but were unable to renew. But they decided to stay and try to make a better life here.”