The Immigrant Council of Ireland (ICI) has commented on the new Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) guidelines for immigrants that are victims of domestic abuse, specifically if the right to reside in Ireland is dependent on the abuser. The guidelines contain information on how to “obtain immigration status independent of their relationship with the perpetrator.” These guidelines are important for someone who is here on a family visa, or because of EU Treaty Rights, where their permission to reside is dependent on their partner’s immigration status, their citizenship of the EU, or their status as a worker. The person suffering the abuse might be frightened to seek a safer situation, and leave the abusive relationship, because they might be afraid that their permission to stay will be revoked. The majority of those affected are women, and these women should know that they have clear options for staying in the state while leaving the abusive relationship.
The INIS report is “aimed at explaining how a victim of domestic violence whose relationship has broken down can apply for independent immigration permission in his/her own right.” The guidelines then specifically define domestic violence, and then clearly state that “you do not have to remain in an abusive relationship in order to preserve your entitlement to remain in Ireland.” Applications must be made from within the state, and the applicant must have a current, valid immigration status. In the application, the applicant must state out the circumstances of the abuse, whether or not the family home has been broken up, and any supporting evidence possible, including a Protection Order from the Courts, a Garda report, and medical records. Generally, the applicant will retain the same immigration status they held previously, a stamp 3. However, stamp 3 does not enable a person to work, so if it becomes necessary for the applicant to work to provide for herself and any dependent family members, special consideration will be given.
Brian Killoran, of the ICI, has called for INIS to ensure that these women will be granted unrestricted access to the labour market and emergency support. There are a few other issues with the guidelines, as it is not clear exactly what status will be given, since the applicant is no longer dependent on their abusive partner. However, the guidelines do contain helpful information for victims of domestic violence. They are in an extremely vulnerable position, and it is crucial for them to be aware of the fact that they can leave their abusive relationship and still retain permission to reside in Ireland.