The Department of Justice has approved 250 applications under the regularisation Scheme for long-term undocumented migrants.

Minister for Justice Helen McEntee confirmed permission letters are arriving in homes across the country and said more decisions will be issued soon.

The scheme opened in January and since then around 5,000 applications have been made under the two separate stands of the programme.

The first is for people in a long-term undocumented situation, and in the second category for those who have been in the asylum process for at least 2 years

Minister McEntee said the first successful applicants have been informed of what she called the ''life changing news''.

They will now be able to remain and reside in the State, seek employment and regularise their residency

Estimates suggest there could be up to 17,000 undocumented people living in Ireland, including up to 3,000 children.

The scheme remains open for another four months.

As part of the next phase, the Department of Justice is to work with the NGO sector to reach vulnerable members of migrant communities and to encourage them to apply for what has been described as a "once-in-a-generation opportunity" to regularise their status here.