Tuesday, 12 October 2021
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
Foreign Birth Registration
223. To ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if partial processing of foreign birth registrations can resume at level 5 given that many persons who submitted applications for foreign birth registrations from 1 February 2020 have not been corresponded with and have included important personal documents such as passports along with the applications; if his Department will be refunding the substantial fee of €278 to those persons whose applications have not been processed within 12 months; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49650/21]
My Department is responsible for citizenship by descent through the Foreign Births Register under the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 1956, as amended.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the processing time for FBR applications stood at 18 months due to an unprecedented surge in applications as a result of Brexit, and the necessary rigorous processing that applies to citizenship applications.
Due to the pandemic, FBR staff have been reassigned to assist in the delivery of essential services. This has resulted in a pause in overall FBR processing. FBR staff have continued to provide an emergency service for Foreign Birth Registration in cases of exceptional urgency, such as expectant parents, or stateless persons. Over 4,700 emergency FBR applications have been processed so far in 2021. In cases of exceptional urgency FBR applicants may continue to contact the Passport Service directly.
Applicants are not required to submit their passports in order for an FBR application to be processed, and any such passport can be returned if required. Where an applicant wishes to cancel their application and receive a refund of the application fee, they should notify the Passport Service by e-mail at email@example.com. When regular FBR processing resumes, their supporting documentation will be returned and the fee refunded.
The Passport Service is actively planning to resume processing FBR applications as soon as possible and I will arrange to have the Deputy informed once a date for the resumption of processing these applications has been finalised. My Department is committed to allocating further resources to assist with the high volume of applications, with a focus on reducing turnaround times by the end of 2021. In the medium term, changes to the FBR process to increase efficiencies and improve the customer experience will be delivered under the next phase of my Department's Passport Reform Programme.