Nasc concerned at high rate of visa refusals from Muslim countries

Thu, February 16, 2017

Nasc are deeply concerned about responses to Parliamentary Questions submitted by Deputy Fiona O’Loughlin this week indicating a high number of refusals of family reunification visas for people from countries like Syria, Iraq, Eritrea, Libya, Jordan, Turkey, Yemen and Afghanistan.

According to the figures provided by the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality Frances Fitzgerald on Wednesday, 15th February, 2017 (Questions 99-101), there have been 27 refusals of D “join family” visas for family members from the Syrian Arab Republic and 18 refusals for family members from Iraq since 2016, as well as a total of 3,592 undecided EU Treaty Rights applications pending for over 6 months.

According to Nasc’s Legal Services Manager Fiona Hurley:

“Nasc has provided support to several Syrian families currently residing or naturalised in Ireland in their applications for family reunification visas, including “join family” and “EU Treaty Rights”, which have been subsequently refused or remained undecided in the past year. These include applications for elderly parents and women and children trying to join their families here in Ireland. Given the horrific conditions in Syria, we are deeply concerned for the safety of our clients’ family members.”

“The commencement of the International Protection Act, 2015, which significantly erodes family reunification rights for refugees, means that refugees will now be pushed into the visa process to try to bring extended family members to join them here. The high number of visa refusals from refugee producing countries is particularly worrying, and is a clear indication that the visa process is not fit for that purpose,” continues Ms. Hurley.

“The Irish Refugee Protection Programme, which the Tánaiste referenced in her response, cannot be the Government’s solitary response to the global refugee crisis. The ability to apply positive discretion on humanitarian grounds in visa decision making is there in the Justice Department’s Policy Document on non-EEA Family Reunification. The Department only has to act humanely and implement that discretion. Especially when it comes to visa applications for family members living in conflict zones. In addition, the introduction of a humanitarian visa programme, as proposed by Nasc in our Safe Passage campaign, would provide a much needed safety net for families fleeing conflict.”

“Given current anti-Muslim trends globally and the attempted introduction of extreme border controls in the United States in recent weeks, we must be especially vigilant in ensuring that Ireland does not ‘go low’ in following America’s lead in this regard. This is particularly relevant in the context of Ireland’s ongoing ban on visa applications from Libya since 2014. This should not be a race to the bottom and instead should be an opportunity to ‘aim high’ and show our support for those fleeing persecution and violence, by renewing our commitment to reuniting families, and condemning policies that would endanger a human rights response to global crisis,” finishes Ms. Hurley.

For media queries, click here.