Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Mystery of the "Stamp 0"



We are confused and concerned about the application of the new residency “Stamp 0” and in particular, the recent grants of this stamp to two clients who are dependent family members. On reading the guidance, it appears that a grant of stamp 0 to such dependent family members is inappropriate and misguided.

According to INIS, the new stamp was created in December 2011 as our blog post reported. It is described as a “low level immigration permission” that permits individuals to remain in the State only for a “specific, temporary and limited purpose”. The guidance explains that the holder cannot work or engage in any business or trade without specific permission, they must be of independent means or fully supported by a sponsor in the State, and finally the holder is not entitled to receive any State benefits and must have private medical insurance.

The guidance goes on to give examples of the types of people who may be eligible for this mystery stamp. They include a “service provider” sent to Ireland by an overseas company to carry out a particular task. Which is confusing, because presumably such a service provider would need permission to work and is therefore not suited to a stamp that specifically stipulates a prohibition on employment. And the stamp is also envisaged for “visiting academics”, who, we also guess are working too. Or are they just on their holidays?

And what is the application process for this mystery stamp? According to INIS, “there will be no specific application process for a stamp 0. “  And what happens at the end of the stamp? It is stated simply that “it is not intended to be a pathway to any more permanent form of migration.”

The guidance is unclear and confusing and this is of concern to us.

We have recently had two clients issued with stamp 0. Both are elderly persons who are wholly dependent both financially and emotionally on their Irish citizen family members who are permanently resident in the State. Such dependency is increasing with age and is likely to continue indefinitely. There is no intention or prospect of our clients returning to their countries of origin. They intend to reside in the State indefinitely, financially self-sufficient and dependent on their families. This much has been categorically stated to the Minister.

We are therefore unclear and concerned as to why a stamp 0 has been issued in each case. It appears, from the guidance, that such a stamp is entirely inappropriate. The clients have categorically stated that they are not here for a temporary or limited purpose. They are here as dependent family members and have an expectation that they will be permitted to settle in the State by applying for some more permanent form of residency, for example citizenship. Yet the guidance on the stamp 0 specifically precludes using the stamp as a pathway to a more permanent form of residency. What, therefore, are the clients expected to do at the end of their stamp 0?

Our expectation for these clients was that they would be issued with a Stamp 3 by the Minister. They would therefore later be in a position to apply for a more permanent form of residency, for example citizenship, relying on their accrual of the appropriate period of reckonable residency on a Stamp 3.

We note that the restrictions that apply to a holder of a stamp 0 tally closely with those of Stamp 3. In fact, there appears to be little difference between the two stamps except for the emphasis in the stamp 0 guidance that it permits only temporary residence for a specific and limited purpose and is not intended to lead to any more permanent forms of residency.  It is unclear therefore whether a period on a stamp 0 will be classified as a period of reckonable residency that would ordinarily accrue towards a more permanent form of residency, such as citizenship. It is this particular aspect of stamp 0 that is causing us unease.

We have therefore written to the Minister to seek clarification on the application of stamp 0. We will also be making a Freedom of Information request in order to obtain the full internal guidelines for deciding officers on the circumstances in which stamp 0 is to be applied. We will keep you updated and ask you to contact us should you have any queries regarding the mystery stamp 0.

Brophy Solicitors
18.09.12 

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  4. My parents who are dependents of mine were granted 1 year stamp 0 as well. Just wondering have you received any clarification from the minister on your inquires, specifically what happens after the expiry of stamp 0, is it renewable? does it count as reckonable residency towards citizenship in the future? Thank you very much for sharing of this information.

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  5. Have you received the internal guidelines used for Stamp Zero decisions? Also, any idea how long the decisions take?

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