161. Deputy Ivana Bacik asked the Minister for Justice if Irish citizens in receipt of disability allowance are required to provide evidence of cumulative income of at least €40,000 over and above any State benefits in the three years prior to sponsoring a visa application for a non-EEA national spouse. [59493/21]
Minister for Justice (Deputy Helen McEntee): Under my Department's Policy Document on non-EEA Family Reunification, all sponsors, that are Irish citizens, must not have been totally or predominantly reliant on benefits from the Irish State for a continuous period in excess of two years immediately prior to the application. They must also over the three year period prior to application have earned a cumulative gross income over and above any State benefits of not less than €40,000.
However, disability allowance payments are excluded from the requirement that the sponsor must not have been reliant on State benefits from the Irish State for a continuous period in excess of two years immediately prior to making the application.
Therefore, people receiving a disability allowance are considered eligible sponsors, subject to meeting any other necessary requirements, including the €40,000 financial requirement. However, it is important to say that each application is examined by my Department on a case-by-case basis and any humanitarian factors will be taken into consideration in making a decision.
Financial capacity is, of course, also just one of the conditions to be satisfied for family reunification to take place.
When considering the matter of family reunification it is important to look at this in the wider context of public policy. The State must strike a fair balance between the sometimes competing interests of the individual and of the community as a whole. Economic considerations are therefore a very necessary part of family reunification policy.
While it is not proposed that family reunification determinations should become purely financial assessments, the State cannot be regarded as having an obligation to subsidise the family concerned. The sponsor must be seen to fulfil their responsibility to provide for their family members if they are to be permitted to come to Ireland.