Free immigration information clinics next week for migrant women

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galway daily news immigrant council clinics for women

The Immigrant Council of Ireland will host free online immigration information clinics for migrant women based in the west of Ireland next week, on Wednesday, 26 January 2022.

The clinics are available to migrant women who are victims of gender-based violence, and who may be at risk of further abuse due to their immigration status.

The aim of the clinics is to help migrant women in abusive situations better understand their immigration rights and seek independent residence status for themselves and their children.

The confidential immigration sessions will take place via Zoom in the form of 20-minute appointments with interpretation services available for certain languages, if required.

Commenting on the upcoming clinics, Jess Bolton, Legal Information Officer and Caseworker at the Immigrant Council of Ireland, said: “From our work at the Council, we know that migrant women are at increased risk of gender-based violence, because of their immigration status and that there are significant barriers to these victims accessing available supports.

“These barriers include language issues, public service providers lacking appropriate training, and an overall lack of general awareness for both migrants and service providers on what legal and immigration rights victims possess.

“We have also found that the issue has been compounded in the Covid-19 era where lockdowns have increased the need for but limited access to supports for victims of domestic violence.”

Ms Bolton said that undocumented women fear deportation and are afraid to report domestic or gender-based violence or seek safety away from their abusive environment.

“Asylum-seeking women are reluctant to seek support out of fear that it may negatively impact their international protection applications. Women on spousal dependent visas also face difficulties,” she said.

“Although they can seek independent status if experiencing domestic violence, the level of knowledge about the legal framework is low. On many occasions women are given misleading information on purpose by the abuser as a way of control.

“No one should feel forced to stay in an abusive environment because they fear for their immigration status.

“We would encourage any migrant women who are in an abusive environment to get in touch with us and schedule an appointment so that we can help in giving them the information and advice they require.”

Interested individuals can book an appointment by ringing 01-6458053 or emailing jess.bolton@immigrantcouncil.ie.

This service is made possible thanks to funding from the Lifes2good Foundation.