Thursday, 13 July 2023
Department of Justice and Equality
522. To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality what action is being taken to reduce the waiting time for the processing and completion of e-vetting applications for applicants of the Irish citizenship by naturalisation application process; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [34801/23]
My Department acknowledges that delays in processing times can be very frustrating and disruptive to applicants for naturalisation.
The backlogs currently being experienced are an unfortunate legacy of the pandemic when staff could only attend the office in a limited capacity. The paper based nature of the application process means it was very difficult to process files during that time.
I would like to assure you that Citizenship Division is committed to reducing how long applicants have to wait for a decision while addressing the backlog as quickly as possible and improving its customer service.
There are currently significant changes underway as the Division examines how it can become more efficient. One of the improvements that has become visible recently has been the reduction in wait times for files to be registered. Last year it took on average about 7 months for a file to be acknowledged. This year it is done in a matter of weeks. A related improvement is that Garda vetting is now carried out earlier in the naturalisation process to help improve processing efficiency.
To ensure older files are also progressing under the new system my Department has recently written to 13,000 applicants with electronic links to commence eVetting. Over the past two months around 3,000 of these vetting files have been progressed and significant work in underway to ensure the remaining vetting is completed in the coming months with the aim of issuing invites to applicants for citizenship ceremonies by the end of this year.
Insofar as vetting arrangements generally are concerned, as the Deputy will be aware, this is carried out by An Garda Síochána in accordance with the provisions of the National Vetting Bureau (Children and Vulnerable Persons) Acts 2012 - 2016.
I am advised by An Garda Síochána that there are currently no backlogs or delays in Garda vetting. I am also advised that the average turnaround time for vetting applications where there is no need to take any further action or make any further enquiries has, since the start of 2023, been seven working days.