710. Deputy Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Justice the average waiting time for applications to be considered for permission to enter and reside for a member of a family of a qualified person under section 56 of the International Protection Act 2015; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38017/20]
Minister for Justice (Deputy Helen McEntee): Applicants for family reunification under Section 56 of the International Protection Act 2015, have 12 months from the date of receiving their International Protection declaration to make an application for Family Reunification for their eligible family members, as set out in the 2015 Act.
Every effort is made to facilitate applicants if an extension of time is requested to obtain original documentation, to make contact with family members, or where delays are experienced through no fault of the applicant.
As a general rule, my department endeavours to issue decisions on these applications, once all requested documentation has been received, within 12 months. However, given the complexity involved, some cases can take considerably longer to decide.
Regrettably, the COVID-19 pandemic has led to a reduction in the processing capacity of the Family Reunification Unit of the Immigration Service of my Department. However, the Unit remains operational and continues to process applications and issue decisions, working in line with public health advice and the Government’s Framework for Living with COVID-19.