Thursday, 17 November 2022
Department of Justice and Equality
264. To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality the current wait time for a decision on a citizenship application from when a person first applies to the issuing of the final decision; the number of applications currently in the system; the current wait time for applications made prior to 2022; the current wait time for applications made in 2022; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [57171/22]
I am deeply conscious of how important the granting of naturalisation is to those who apply for it and my Department continued to accept and process citizenship applications throughout the pandemic and during all levels of public health restrictions.
For a broad range of reasons, some cases will take longer than others to process. In some instances, completing the necessary checks can take a considerable period of time.
The Citizenship division of my Department receives approximately 1000 applications per month and regrettably, the current median processing time for naturalisation applications is 19 months.
My Justice Plan 2022 commits to developing a fully digital, customer-centric immigration service and to enhance the efficiency of our immigration system. In line with these commitments, a number of actions have been taken to reduce the impact on immigration processing times, including the introduction of online applications, a new customer service helpdesk and a new customer-focused immigration website.
As a result of the introduction of the temporary statutory declaration process in January 2021, and the assignment of additional staff to the citizenship team, last year, 11,512 citizenship decisions were made. This is the highest number of decisions made annually since 2015 and reflects positively the significant changes undertaken to date.
For the first six months of 2022, almost 7,900 citizenship decisions have been issued, including 1,005 decisions on minor applications. This exceeds the total number of minor decisions issued during the whole of last year when 868 minor decisions were made.
Since 1 January 2022, new applicants for citizenship no longer have to submit their original passport with their application. Instead, they can provide a full colour copy of their passport. This is freeing up staff that up to now have been engaged in returning passports to applicants and will also help to reduce processing times.
A number of digitisation measures have also been introduced to increase efficiency in the process, including eTax clearance, eVetting and online payments. The end result of the digitisation process will be to free up more staff to focus on processing applications in a timely and efficient manner, to improve service to our customers and reduce waiting times.
The table below sets out the average processing times by year since 2015, along with the number of applications decided in each of those years.
Number of Applications decided
Average Processing Time (Months)
265. To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality the number of persons who are due to receive Irish citizenship at ceremonies before the end of 2022; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [57172/22]
I am pleased to confirm that my Department intends to host the next in-person citizenship ceremonies on the 5th and 6th of December 2022 in the Killarney Convention Centre (Gleneagle Hotel).
It is expected that almost 3250 persons will be invited and it is intended that at least 4 ceremonies will be held over the 2 days.
The granting of Irish citizenship through naturalisation is governed by the provisions of the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 1956, as amended, and all applications are processed in line with the eligibility criteria as set out under the Act. Each application is assessed individually in accordance with the provisions of the Act. A determination on whether an applicant satisfies the statutory criteria attendant to naturalisation can only be made after an application is received.
Applicants are required to have 5 years reckonable residence in the state prior to making an application, except for spouses of Irish nationals where the requirement is 3 years. In both cases, the final 12 months must be continuous residence in the State with up to 6 weeks allowed to facilitate foreign travel for business family or holiday purposes.
Detailed information on Irish citizenship and the naturalisation process, along with the relevant application forms and guidance notes, is available on my Department's Irish Immigration website at: www.irishimmigration.ie/how-to-become-a-citizen/.