By Chinedu Onyejelem
The new International Protection Office (IPO) has opened for business, the Department of Justice has announced. IPO replaces the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner (Orac), and staff from there have been transferred to the new office, which is overseen by independent international protection officers. The change follows the commencement of the International Protection Act at the end of 2016 and ushers in new arrangements for the investigation and determination of applications for international protection, whether for asylum or refugee status. Such applications will be processed as part of a single application procedure, according to the IPO website. All new applicants for international protection are now automatically asking for the Minister for Justice to determine whether they qualify to be granted refugee status or subsidiary protection. Asylum seekers who applied for refugee status or subsidiary protection to the Orac before 31 December 2016 or have refugee status appeal pending with the Refugee Appeals Tribunal before that date have been informed about the change. Anyone who has changed address recently is advised to immediately notify the IPO in writing. More information about the new system is available in different languages on the IPO website at ipo.gov.ie.