The parent, guardian or person who is in loco parentis to a child born in the State without an entitlement to Irish citizenship at birth, may lodge an application for naturalisation on behalf of the child, if and when the conditions for naturalisation are satisfied. This includes a requirement to have a total of 5 years residence in the State. This ensures that there is a path to obtaining Irish citizenship through the naturalisation process for these children.
Entitlement to Irish citizenship is governed by the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 1956, as amended. The Act distinguishes between the entitlement to citizenship by birth and descent and to the acquisition of citizenship through the naturalisation process. Following a referendum in 2004, the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 2004, amended Section 6 of the 1956 Act.
The changes came into effect on 1 January 2005. As of that date, a person born on the island of Ireland is not entitled to be an Irish citizen, unless that person's parents have been legally resident on the island of Ireland for a total of three years during the four years preceding that person's birth. Periods of unlawful residence, periods of residence which were for the sole purpose of having an application for refugee status determined or periods of residence where permission was granted for the purposes of study are excluded from the reckonable residence.
The Programme for Government contains a commitment to create new pathways for long-term undocumented people and their dependents meeting specified criteria to regularise their status within 18 months of the formation of the Government, bearing in mind European Union and Common Travel Area commitments. Ireland along with other Member States of the EU, has committed, under the European Pact on Immigration and Asylum (2008), to a case-by-case approach as opposed to mass regularisation. However, the Government recognises that some of our own citizens face similar challenges abroad and is sympathetic to the situation of people who find themselves in an undocumented position through no fault of their own.
A policy paper on the matter is being drafted by my Department at the present time, which will include an assessment of international best practices. Previous regularisation schemes, such as the 2018 Student Scheme and earlier such schemes, will also be considered in any future policy.