Tuesday, 17 September 2019

Ceisteanna (264)

Jack Chambers

Ceist:

264. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of applications for citizenship being processed; the number of active applications being processed for more than one, two, three and five years, respectively; the average waiting time per application; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36989/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I am advised by the Immigration Service of my Department that the number of applications for naturalisation currently on hand, by year of application for each of the years 2016 - 2019 and 2015 and earlier, is as follows:

Year of Application 

 2015 and earlier

 2016

 2017

 2018

 2019 to date

 Total

Applications currently on hand

 563

 753

 2,142

7,331

5,220

 16,009

It should be noted that over 78% of the applications on hands were made either this year or last year. 

The number of cases on hands will always include a cohort where a decision has been made and the applicant has been notified of same, but they have not yet attended the citizenship ceremony to swear their oath of fidelity to the nation and loyalty to the State and be granted their certificate of naturalisation. 

The nature of the naturalisation process is such that, for a broad range of reasons, some cases can take longer than others to process.  In some instances, completing the necessary checks may take a considerable period of time.    Processing timescales can often be impacted due to further documentation being required from the applicant, or payment of the required certificate fee being awaited, or the applicant not engaging with the office.  In some instances, the applicant themselves may request that a hold be put on their application, for example, where they may have returned to their country of origin for a prolonged period, to facilitate them in making arrangements to return to reside in the State, or where they have difficulty in obtaining satisfactory evidence of their identity or nationality.  In other instances, issues can arise at the final stage of the naturalisation process, for example, where additional information comes to light which is required to be considered before a final decision is taken.  

Accordingly, an average wait time for applications is not a meaningful measure.  However, I am advised that, in general, it takes around 6 months for a standard application to be processed from the date it is received to the date a decision is made.  

The granting of Irish citizenship through naturalisation is a privilege and an honour which confers certain rights and entitlements, not only within the State but also at European Union as well as international level.  It is therefore important that appropriate procedures are in place to ensure that the integrity of the regime for granting Irish citizenship through the naturalisation process is held in high regard both at home and internationally. 

The Immigration Service devotes a considerable amount of its overall resources to the processing of these cases. It also operates a dedicated phone helpline and email helpdesk available for all applicants to enable queries to be dealt with, including the progress of their application.  Details are available on the Immigration Service website at www.inis.gov.ie.