Last year, a client of our office attended GNIB with his wife and son to obtain re entry visas prior to their holiday outside the State. To his shock, our client was informed by both a GNIB officer and an official from INIS that his son was not legally resident in the State, and on this basis he was refused a re entry visa for his son. As such, our clients were unable to travel as planned, and lost the substantial value of their flights. Of more concern to them was the fact they were informed that their son should leave the State immediately, and apply for a visa to enter the State from outside the State in order to regularize his status.
The Minister’s current immigration policy is that children cannot independently register their status in the State until they are 16 years of age. It has been confirmed to us by INIS on a number of previous occasions that children assume the lawful status of their parent/s until they are 16. If this is the correct position, it appeared clear to us that our clients’ son was in fact lawfully resident in the State, and had at that point acquired over three years of reckonable residence. We calculated his reckonable residence on the basis of his mother’s stamp 3 residence permission, as he entered the State with his mother and resided continuously with his mother in the State. However, why was he refused the re entry visa? The glaring problem was that the Minister’s lack of policy in respect of the status of non EEA children in the State is causing utter confusion, not just for the public, but within the Department and GNIB also.
Eight months after we first took our client’s instructions , and after numerous letters from our office and threats of High Court proceedings, the Department finally clarified in writing that non EEA children who enter the State accompanied by a parent are deemed to be in the State on the same conditions as the accompanying parent, and they are deemed to have dependant status on that parent. On this basis it was confirmed that our client’s son was eligible for a re entry visa. However, our clients were not reimbursed for the lost expenditure incurred because of that earlier mistaken decision to refuse the re entry visa.
The lack of clear stated policy regarding the status of children in the State is a huge failing within the current immigration system and urgently needs to be addressed. Many cases concerning children are treated at odds from each other by different GNIB and INIS officials. It is impossible for our clients to understand what are the requirements to have their children’s status regularized and accounted for in terms of reckonable residence. Are they to present their children at GNIB on arrival? What if one parent becomes undocumented, does the child’s status shift and align with the second parent who is undocumented? What status does the child acquire on turning 16? From our experience, some children acquire stamp 2 permission, and some stamp 3 permission. Both residence permissions are unsuitable once the child turns 18, and wishes to attend third level education or become employed on a full time basis.
The current unclear position on the status of children in the State is breach of the Minister’s obligation to apply good administration, and causing unnecessary and unfair hardships for many families. The area requires the Minister’s urgent attention.