Wednesday, 3 November 2021
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
Foreign Birth Registration
103. To ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade when applications for foreign birth registration for the purpose of obtaining Irish citizenship on the basis of a parent or grandparent were suspended; when it is expected that they will be resumed; his plans to deal with the backlog which will have inevitably arisen; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53542/21]
My Department is responsible for citizenship by descent through the Foreign Births Register under the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 1956, as amended.
Individuals may apply for Irish citizenship through Foreign Birth Registration if one of their grandparents was born in Ireland or if one of their parents was an Irish citizen at the time of their birth, even if the parent was not born in Ireland. Once a person is entered onto the Foreign Births Register, they are an Irish citizen and are entitled to apply for an Irish passport.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the processing time for Foreign Birth Registration 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 pandemic-related restrictions, the current pause in Foreign Birth Registration processing began in late December 2020. Since their return to the workplace, Foreign Birth Registration staff have been reassigned to assist in the delivery of essential services. There are approximately 31,000 Foreign Birth Registration applications currently on-hand. Foreign Birth Registration 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 5,000 emergency Foreign Birth Registration applications have been processed so far in 2021. In cases of exceptional urgency, Foreign Birth Registration applicants may continue to contact the Passport Service directly. For other applications, the Department will operate a transparent general policy of processing Foreign Birth Registration applications in order of receipt.
The Passport Service is actively planning to resume processing Foreign Birth Registration 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. In the medium term, changes to the Foreign Birth Registration process to increase efficiencies and improve the customer experience will be delivered under the next phase of my Department's Passport Reform Programme.