PQ: Asylum Application Processing Times, Number of Grants of Asylum 2008-2011

Tue, June 12, 2012

Deputy Robert Dowds asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the average length of time which an asylum seeker waits for a decision on whether or not they will be granted asylum.
Deputy Robert Dowds asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of persons granted asylum here in the years 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011 respectively.

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): I propose to take Questions Nos. 488 and 489 together.

The median processing time for asylum decisions in 2012 is 8 months (or 32 weeks) from date of initial application at the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner. I should point out that some cases can take longer to complete due to, for example, delays arising from medical issues, or because of judicial review proceedings. All asylum applications and appeals are processed in accordance with the Refugee Act 1996 and high quality and fair decision-making in all cases continues to be a key priority at all stages of the asylum process. For the sake of completeness, I should also state that persons who are refused a declaration under Section 17 of the Refugee Act 1996 (as amended) enter what is commonly referred to as the “leave to remain” process which generally has two elements to it; an application for subsidiary protection and further consideration to be given under Section 3 of the Immigration Act 1999 (as amended). This is separate to the asylum or refugee status determination process.

The processing of cases at this point is complex and extremely resource intensive given that where an application for subsidiary protection is lodged in addition to representations for consideration under Section 3 of the Immigration Act 1999 (as amended), the subsidiary protection application must be considered first to assess whether the applicant has an identifiable need for international protection. Where such an application is refused, consideration must then be given to the case in accordance with the provisions of Section 3 of the Immigration Act 1999 (as amended), at which point the Minister must make a decision whether or not to make a deportation order in respect of the person. All of this must be done in strict compliance with the Constitution, together with relevant international law including the European Convention on Human Rights.

The total number of persons granted asylum for the years 2008 – 2011 was 586, 393,157 and 132 respectively. While there is not an exact correlation between the number of asylum applications and the decision date of applications, there has been a very substantial reduction in new applications over the same period and accordingly the numbers granted asylum should be seen in this context.

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