Tuesday, 16 June 2020
Department of Justice and Equality
374. To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality if the Covid-19 crisis has delayed the process of making determinations on naturalisation applications; if so, the extent of the delay; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11262/20]
Applications for certificates of naturalisation continue to be processed during the Covid-19 crisis by the Immigration Service of my Department, albeit at a reduced capacity.
The Citizenship Division of Immigration Service Delivery has encouraged new applicants not to submit applications at this time. This measure has been taken in accordance with Public Health advice regarding maintaining social distancing in the workplace. New applications will be accepted under Stage 4 of the revised Government Roadmap for reopening society and business.
The vast majority of Citizenship staff are working remotely, while a number of staff have been redeployed to support other critical work at this time.
In general, it takes around six months for a standard application to be processed from the date it is received to the date a decision is made. However, on foot of a High Court judgment, that was subsequently overturned by the Court of Appeal, processing of adult applications was paused for a number of months during the second half of last year (2019). My officials are currently prioritising applications that are in the system over 18 months.
The nature of the naturalisation process is such that, for a broad range of reasons, some cases can take longer than others to process. Additional security checks can result in some applications taking longer than this average timescale. Such checks are fundamental to maintaining the legitimacy of the naturalisation process both nationally and internationally.
My officials are currently exploring various options (including virtual ceremonies) that will facilitate the delivery of citizenship ceremonies in a manner that complies with social distancing protocols and prioritises the safety and wellbeing of participants, candidates, their guests and staff of my own Department and from the venue. It is also essential that any arrangements put in place satisfy the relevant statutory requirements while ensuring the event is a meaningful and dignified experience for candidates.
Regular updates will be posted on the Citizenship page of the Immigration Service Delivery website at www.irishimmigration.ie/citizenship/.
I would also encourage the Deputy to view our updates and a detailed Frequently Asked Questions document on the Immigration Service website at: