At the end of April 2022, the median processing time for successful naturalisation applications was 19 months.
There are currently 26,934 applications on hand at various stages of processing, of which 4,631 applications (17%) were received prior to 1 May 2020. Of the applications in progress, 3,191 have been issued with a decision but the applicant has yet to complete the required declaration of fidelity process.
I am deeply conscious of how important the granting of naturalisation is to those who apply for it and my Department has continued to accept and process citizenship applications throughout the pandemic and during all levels of public health restrictions. However, the combined impact of the 2019 High Court judgment in the Jones case, the necessary health restrictions arising from the pandemic, and my Department's response to the Ukraine crisis has resulted in the processing time for standard applications increasing. However, my Department is taking a number of steps to speed up the processing of applications and a number of digitisation measures have also been introduced to increase efficiency in the process, including eTax clearance, eVetting and online payments. The end result of the digitisation process will be to free up more staff to focus on processing applications in a timely and efficient manner, to improve service to our customers and reduce waiting times.In 2021, my Department issued 11,512 citizenship decisions, which is the highest number of decisions made since 2015, and reflects positively the significant changes undertaken to date. To date in 2022, some 4,840 citizenship decisions have issued by my Department.