The most significant change in the International Protection Act 2015 relates to the family reunification provisions under sections 56 and 57 IPA. A beneficiary of international protection must apply for family reunification within 12 months of being issued with a refugee declaration or subsidiary protection declaration. No reference is made in the legislation to any income or health insurance requirement. It is the duty of the sponsor (refugee or subsidiary protection beneficiary) and the person who is the subject of the application (family member) to co-operate fully in the investigation including by providing all relevant information in his or her possession, control or procurement which is relevant to the family reunification application.
No differences exist between the right to apply for family reunification for refugees and subsidiary protection beneficiaries. Once a family reunification application has been granted that permission will cease to be in force if the family member does not enter and reside in the State by a date specified by the Minister when giving the permission in accordance with section 56(5) IPA. It remains to be seen how this will be applied in practice.
One significant change from the previous legal regime is that there is now no possibility for beneficiaries of international protection to apply for dependent family members i.e. adult children, parents of adult applicants, nieces, nephews who are dependent on the refugee or are suffering from a mental or physical disability to such extent that it is not reasonable for them to maintain themselves. Under the previous Refugee Act 1996 as amended it was possible for the Minister to use her discretion to grant family reunification in such circumstances. There is no reference to dependent family members in the IPA.