In 2020, Ireland received 43 000 new immigrants on a long-term or permanent basis (including changes of status and free mobility), -17.2% compared to 2019. This figure comprises 61.3% immigrants benefitting from free mobility, 30.5% labour migrants, 4.3% family members (including accompanying family) and 3.8% humanitarian migrants. Around 15 000 permits were issued to tertiary-level international students and 900 to temporary and seasonal labour migrants (excluding intra-EU migration). In addition, 8 200 intra-EU postings were recorded in 2020, a decrease of -52% compared to 2019. These posted workers are generally on short-term contracts.

In 2021, the number of first asylum applicants increased by 70.4% to reach around 2 600. The majority of applicants came from Nigeria (500), Georgia (300) and Somalia (300). The largest increase since 2020 concerned nationals of Georgia (300) and the largest decrease nationals of Brazil (-30). Of the 1 550 decisions taken in 2021, 94% were positive.

A new centre-right-Green coalition government formed following the general election in February 2020 introduced two main migration policy initiatives. First, a White Paper to End Direct Provision and to Establish a New International Protection Support Service was published in February 2021. The white paper proposed that newly arrived asylum seekers would spend a maximum of four months in state-owned reception and integration centres. In a second phase, accommodation would be offered in own-door self-contained units. Asylum applicants would be allowed access to the labour market after six months and would otherwise be eligible for mainstream social welfare support payments. Reforms are to be achieved by 2024. The main progress up to March 2022 has been the provision of several hundred self-contained apartment units for applicants in the system.

Second, following the commitment in the 2020 programme for government to develop policy for the regularisation of long-term undocumented migrants, a regularisation scheme was announced in July 2021 for those who had been resident and undocumented for four or more years, or three years in the case of those with children in Ireland. The scheme, launched in January 2022, provides for successful applicants to receive an immigration permission, access to the labour market and to be able to begin the naturalisation process.

Eligible applicants include individuals who have been undocumented (i.e. without an immigration permission) for at least four years; individuals who have dependent children living with them will be eligible to apply after three years of being undocumented in the State; international protection applicants who have been in the international protection process for at least two years are also eligible to apply.

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