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Foreign Birth Registration

Dáil Éireann Debate, Wednesday - 19 January 2022

Wednesday, 19 January 2022

Questions (643, 644, 645, 646, 647, 648, 653)

Claire Kerrane

Question:

643. Deputy Claire Kerrane asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the number of current applications awaiting decision for citizenship through the foreign births registration. [1245/22]

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Claire Kerrane

Question:

644. Deputy Claire Kerrane asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the number of staff working on citizenship applications through foreign births registration. [1246/22]

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Claire Kerrane

Question:

645. Deputy Claire Kerrane asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the number of applications submitted for citizenship through the foreign births registration in 2020 and 2021. [1247/22]

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Claire Kerrane

Question:

646. Deputy Claire Kerrane asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the number of applications for citizenship through the foreign births registration that have taken longer than 18 months to process. [1248/22]

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Claire Kerrane

Question:

647. Deputy Claire Kerrane asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the length of time in months that decisions on citizenship were delayed for due to Covid-19. [1249/22]

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Claire Kerrane

Question:

648. Deputy Claire Kerrane asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if he has considered simplifying the process for citizenship for applicants with Irish ancestry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1250/22]

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John Brady

Question:

653. Deputy John Brady asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the status of the foreign birth registration process; if the process is up and running; the current waiting times; the number of persons waiting to be registered; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1320/22]

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Written answers (Question to Foreign)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 643, 644, 645, 646, 647, 648 and 653 together.

My Department is responsible for citizenship by descent through the Foreign Births Register under the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 1956 (“the 1956 Act”), as amended.

The processing of Foreign Birth Registration has resumed and will be gradually scaling up in line with the recruitment of additional resources. At present, a total of 36 full time staff work on Foreign Births Registration. Due to the complex nature of the Foreign Birth Registration process, the large increase in applications received following the Brexit vote in the UK, and the pause in the Service due to necessary Covid-19 restrictions, applicants should allow approximately 2 years from the receipt of supporting documentation for processing of Foreign Birth Registration applications at this time. Before this increase in application volumes and Covid-19 restrictions, applications were typically processed within 6-9 months of receipt. Due to Covid-19 restrictions, and the subsequent reassignment of Foreign Birth Registration staff to assist in the provision of essential passport services, the Foreign Birth Registration Service was paused for nearly 15 months across the 2020-2021 period.

There are currently 32,000 applications for which documentation has been received, and which are awaiting processing. In 2020, documents were received for just over 16,000 applications, with 11,000 received in 2021. Of the applications currently on hand, just over 12,000 have been awaiting processing for more than 18 months.

As legislative provision for Foreign Birth Registration is made under the 1956 Act, any changes to application requirements would require amendment of the 1956 Act by the Oireachtas. As the Minister for Justice is responsible for citizenship matters, any such amendment would be a matter for the Department for Justice. In the context of the National Development Plan, my Department is making a major investment in the future of the Passport Service.  Over the next couple of years, we will replace the core technology underpinning the service, which will deliver efficiencies and a more resilient passport and Foreign Birth Registration system.  

Foreign Birth Registration staff continue to provide an emergency service for Foreign Birth Registration in cases of exceptional urgency, such as expectant parents, or stateless persons. In 2021, over 7,000 such applications were processed.  Applicants who require an emergency service may contact the Passport Service directly.

My Department is fully committed to the continued allocation of additional resources over the coming period to assist with the processing of the Foreign Birth Registration applications currently on hand and the high volume of new applications anticipated this year.

Question No. 644 answered with Question No. 643.
Question No. 645 answered with Question No. 643.
Question No. 646 answered with Question No. 643.
Question No. 647 answered with Question No. 643.
Question No. 648 answered with Question No. 643.
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