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Citizenship Applications

Dáil Éireann Debate, Tuesday - 17 May 2022

Tuesday, 17 May 2022

Questions (585, 586, 587, 588)

Neale Richmond

Question:

585. Deputy Neale Richmond asked the Minister for Justice if he will provide an update on a pathway to citizenship for those born in Ireland; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24198/22]

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Neale Richmond

Question:

586. Deputy Neale Richmond asked the Minister for Justice the current number of citizenship applications being processed for minors with a naturalised parent; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24199/22]

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Neale Richmond

Question:

587. Deputy Neale Richmond asked the Minister for Justice the average waiting time for citizenship applications for a minor with at least one naturalised parent; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24200/22]

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Neale Richmond

Question:

588. Deputy Neale Richmond asked the Minister for Justice the number of decisions made per year over the past five years for citizenship applications for a minor with at least one naturalised parent; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24201/22]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 585 to 588, inclusive, together.

The granting of Irish citizenship through naturalisation is governed by the provisions of the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 1956, as amended. All applications for a certificate of naturalisation are processed and assessed individually in accordance with the provisions of the Act. A determination on whether an applicant satisfies the statutory criteria attendant to naturalisation can only be made after an application is received.

The 1956 Act, as amended, provides that an application may be submitted for a minor if the minor's parents have already been naturalised or if the minor is of Irish descent or has Irish associations or, at the time of their birth, was not entitled to Irish citizenship but has since accumulated five years reckonable residency in the State.

Minors cannot apply for naturalisation in their own right. The application must be made by their parent, legal guardian or person acting on the child's behalf "in loco parentis".

If one or more of the minor’s parents has already been naturalised they should apply using Form 9. If the minor is of Irish descent or has Irish associations they should use Form 10. If the minor was born in the State after 1 January 2005, and was not entitled to Irish citizenship at the time of birth, but has since accumulated five years’ reckonable residence they should use Form 11.

Section 6A of the 1956 Act also provides details on the criteria for naturalisation that applies to a child born to parents who were legally resident in the State at the time of their birth.

It is my intention that the forthcoming Courts and Civil Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill will reduce the residency requirements for naturalisation for children born in the State from 5 years to 3 years and will also set out clear procedures that will apply to citizenship applications relating to children.

Detailed information on Irish citizenship and the naturalisation process, along with the relevant application forms and guidance notes, is available on my Department's immigration website at: www.irishimmigration.ie/how-to-become-a-citizen/.

There are currently 3,012 applications in the system in respect of a minor who is the child of a naturalised Irish citizen. Details of the processing time by this application category only are not maintained by my Department.

As a result of the introduction of the temporary statutory declaration process in January 2021, and the additional staff assigned to the citizenship team, last year, 11,512 citizenship decisions were delivered, which is the highest number of decisions since 2015 and reflects positively the significant changes undertaken to date.

Since 1 January 2022, new applicants for citizenship no longer have to submit their original passport with their application. Instead, they can provide a full colour copy of their entire passport, including the front and back covers. This is also freeing up valuable staff that up to now have been engaged in returning passports to applicants and will also help to reduce processing times.

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.

The following table provides a breakdown decisions of per year for minors.

Year

Decisions

2016

1,870

2017

1,375

2018

1,318

2019

778

2020

820

2021

665

Question No. 586 answered with Question No. 585.
Question No. 587 answered with Question No. 585.
Question No. 588 answered with Question No. 585.
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