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Posts Tagged ‘citizenship’

Immigration and ‘Marriages of Convenience’

January 30, 2010 Leave a comment

On Monday, the Irish Times reported on a new operation which has been undertaken by the Garda National Immigration Bureau (GNIB) to detect and prevent what they believe to be marriages of convenience for the purpose of securing EU residency rights. A Pakistani man, Muhammad Shafi, was recently convicted of offences related to the possession of ‘false instruments’. Gardai also intervened to halt his marriage to a Lithuanian woman. The Irish Times reports that marriages designed to circumvent certain legal obstacles to residency in Ireland are an important informal feature of  our immigration regime, with the Minister  for Justice estimating that  “30 per cent of all our applications for recognition under the EU directive on freedom of movement and residency involve persons who were illegally present in Ireland or on a temporary or limited permission when making their applications”. The Times explains:

These marriages are typically arranged by failed asylum seekers or former students from Asia who no longer have permission from immigration authorities to stay in Ireland.

Minister for Justice Dermot Ahern told his EU counterparts at a meeting in Spain at the weekend that there was evidence of growing abuse of immigration laws with a growing number of non-EU nationals marrying women from the Baltic states.

Some 110 of the 384 residency applications made by Pakistanis in the Republic in 2009 were based on marriages to Latvians.

A further 50 applications were based on marriage to Polish nationals while 47 applications were based on Pakistanis marrying Estonians.

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Immigrant Council of Ireland: Probing the Citizenship Regime

November 16, 2009 1 comment

logoThis post is contributed by Ruth Evans, Media and Communications Officer at the Immigrant Council of Ireland.

Earlier this year, a woman came to the Immigrant Council of Ireland for information about a particular issue when, almost as an aside, it emerged that she had applied for citizenship of this country by naturalisation.

She is the single parent of several young children and earns less than €500 a week.  Clearly, she would be granted social welfare assistance of some kind if she applied for it but, knowing that to do so would rule out any chance of her citizenship application being successful, she has never applied for State benefits and struggles by under her own steam. Making a decision not to access social welfare despite financial hardship, even if caused by redundancy, is not unique to this client.  It is something we hear repeatedly from callers to the ICI’s Information and Referral helpline.

Accessing social welfare payments is one of the grounds for refusal of citizenship applications in this country.

After waiting two years for her application to be processed, our client received a letter from the Government, which she assumed would contain the Minister’s decision whether or not her application was successful.  Citizenship decisions are made at the absolute discretion of the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform.

There was no decision in the letter.  Instead, our client was informed that the Minister had deferred making a decision for another 12 months so that he could ascertain that she remained in employment and financially independent of State funding during that time.

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Migrants and Child Citizens: Ireland and Greece

October 23, 2009 1 comment

From the Guardian comes the news that George Papandreou’s newly elected Pasok (Socialist) government have begun to overhaul Greece’s much-criticised immigration policy (I blogged about the Greek connection to the Calais ‘Jungle’ affair here last month and you can read about Greece’s examination by UNCERD in August here). In particular, citizenship will be granted to the Greek-born children of migrants who have legally settled in Greece.  At present, the State does not provide such children either with a birth certificate or with a long-term residence permit. Since December, some such children have been able to apply for long-term residence. Prior to that change in the law, they were obliged to apply for a permit – on the same terms as a new migrant – upon reaching the age of 18. The Guardian reports:

“Absurd is too light a word to describe the lot of these kids,” said Petros Papaconstantinou, a prominent anti-racism spokesman. “Even if born in Greece, even if they attend Greek schools and speak only Greek, which invariably is the case, on paper they don’t exist at all.”

Without official documentation the children were often subject to abuse, arrest and deportation at the age of 18, he said. “There are children whose parents are from Africa, Asia and countries like Albania who are enrolled at schools across Greece but who have no papers whatsoever. In Europe this is unique.”

The Greek developments raise the spectre of the the family rights wing of Ireland’s immigration regime, the flagship initiative of which became the  Twenty-Seventh Amendment to the Irish Constitution – famous enough at this point, even to be considered in Seyla Benhabib and Judith Resnik’s new book.

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