Thursday, 1 April 2021
Department of Justice and Equality
290. To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality the number applications with respect to the new temporary process for granting citizenship which involves the signing of a statutory declaration of loyalty to the State instead of attending a citizenship ceremony received to date; the number of these applications that have been processed to date; if her Department has met with members of a group (details supplied); if she has taken into consideration the requests made by this group; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18030/21]
Officials from the Citizenship Division of the Immigration Service of my Department have recently held a virtual meeting with representatives of the group referred to by the Deputy to listen to their concerns. A number of suggestions were made by the group regarding the processing of applications and these are under active consideration. The engagement process, which has been very positive and productive, is ongoing. It has provided my officials with valuable customer insights on our service standards and procedures.
On 18 January 2021, I was pleased to announce a temporary system that enables citizenship applicants to complete their naturalisation process by signing a statutory declaration of loyalty.
This signed statutory declaration replaces the requirement for citizenship applicants to attend citizenship ceremonies, which have been temporarily suspended during COVID-19. The Citizenship Division of my Department is communicating with applicants regarding the requirements, on a phased basis.
Under the temporary new system, up to 4,000 qualifying applicants are currently being asked to complete a statutory declaration that is sent to them by email from the Citizenship Division of the Immigration Service of my Department and bring it to one of the listed designated officials. The designated official must witness the applicant sign the statutory declaration. The applicant must then send the signed statutory declaration, the appropriate fee and any other requested documentation to Citizenship Division. Final processing will then take place and a certificate of naturalisation, will be sent to the applicant.
My Department expects to continue the current statutory declaration process beyond March and we are aiming to have communicated with an additional 2,500 applicants in the system by the end of June.
To date, 3,615 communications have issued, 1,605 declarations had been returned and 887 certificates of naturalisation have already issued. More will issue in the coming weeks once the final processing of the returned declarations is completed.
It remains my intention that large scale ceremonies will recommence once circumstances allow. Since their establishment in 2011, citizenship ceremonies have been joyous occasions which mark the granting of Irish citizenships in a dignified manner and they have become a welcome addition to our public and civic life. In-person ceremonies have been provisionally scheduled to resume in December 2021, subject to the safety of all involved being assured.