Minister McEntee makes customer focused immigration changes
- From 1 January, new applicants for citizenship will not be required to submit their original passport with the initial application.
- Re-entry visas for minors are suspended over Christmas to facilitate families making travel plans.
- Customers in the State benefitting from the extension of immigration permissions to 15 January 2022 will see their Irish Residence Permits extended to the same date
15 November 2021
The Minister for Justice, Helen McEntee TD, has today announced that she is making a number of immigration changes to simplify and streamline the processing of citizenship applications and to facilitate immigration requirements for our customers over the Christmas period.
The Minister is deeply conscious of how important the granting of naturalisation is to those who apply for it. The Department has continued to accept and process citizenship applications throughout the pandemic and at all levels of public health restrictions and is on track to make 11,000 citizenship decisions this year.
The Minister and her officials continue to explore new ways of processing citizenship applications in a timely and efficient manner, improving service to our customers and reducing waiting times.
Speaking today, Minister McEntee was pleased to announce a further measure to reduce the administrative burden on applicants:
“From 1 January, new applicants for citizenship will no longer have to submit their original passport with their application. Instead, they can provide a full colour copy of their entire passport, including the front and back covers. The colour copy must be witnessed by a solicitor and submitted with the application form.
“I know that this change in practice will be very much welcomed by our customers. They may need their passport to travel to see family or friends abroad, something many of us have not have been able to do for a long time due to Covid-19. It will also free up valuable staff that up to now have been engaged in returning passports to applicants.
“Arrangements are being made to return all passports on hand by the end of the year and we thank customers for their patience while we work through this. Anyone who intends travelling between now and the Christmas holidays and will require the use of their passport to do so, may wish to consider waiting until the New Year to make their citizenship application when the new arrangements will apply.”
In January 2021, a temporary system was opened to enable applicants that were in the final stages of processing to complete their naturalisation process by signing a statutory declaration of loyalty. Commenting on the progress made since the temporary statutory declaration process was introduced, Minister McEntee said,
“Since January, my Department has contacted almost 8,200 citizenship applicants and has issued more than 7,400 certificates of naturalisation.
In addition, significant changes are also being introduced for customers regarding the number of proofs required to establish their identity and residency as part of the application process. The Minister said,
“From January, my Department will be moving to a scorecard approach, which will bring added clarity regarding what information applicants will be required to provide to establish their identity and residency. In particular, for doctors who are employed in the HSE or in Voluntary Hospitals, the provision of a “Medical Practitioner Employment History Summary” will be accepted as proof of residence. I know that this will be very much welcomed by doctors who face very unique challenges arising from moving hospitals as part of their training.”
Customers in the State who are entitled to receive a new Irish Residence Permit (IRP) card may use their current expired card to enable them to depart from and return to Ireland in confidence over Christmas and until 15 January 2022. The re-entry visa requirements for children under the age of 16 are also being suspended during this period. Outlining the plans, Minister McEntee said,
“For many families, the Christmas holiday period will be the first opportunity to travel since the pandemic began. We want to make this as simple and stress-free as possible, so that people can look forward to spending time with their loved ones abroad. Therefore, I am also suspending the re-entry visa requirement for any minors travelling with a legally resident parent or guardian between now and 15 January. This will benefit up to 6,000 children and their families.”
The Department is processing those applications already submitted. If customers plan to travel abroad beyond 15 January 2022, they will need to secure a re-entry visa in Ireland before travelling or in an overseas visa office before returning.
In September, a final temporary extension of immigration and international protection permissions was announced to 15 January 2022. Minister McEntee said:
“The temporary extensions of permissions that we have provided on eight occasions since the pandemic began have provided legal certainty for tens of thousands of people who have made their homes here in Ireland. As international travel has reopened in recent times, we want to ensure that people can travel from and return to Ireland unhindered. This will be especially important during the upcoming holiday period.”
“For this reason, I am announcing today that customers holding an Irish Residence Permit card that was in-date at the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020, now has its validity period extended to 15 January 2022. Anyone travelling during this time will be able to print a copy of the travel confirmation notice provided by my Department and display this with your existing IRP card to show proof of residence when returning to Ireland. We are engaging with airline carriers to notify them of this new arrangement and to ensure that the process runs smoothly. It can also be displayed as proof of residence for employment purposes or to access any State services and supports that people are ordinarily eligible for.”
The travel confirmation notice is available on the Department’s Irish Immigration website at: https://www.irishimmigration.ie/
The Minister also encouraged customers to use the time between now and 15 January 2022 to make all efforts to get an appointment to register a first time permission or to renew their existing permission, and not to wait until the last minute when demand may be high.
“Everyone covered by the final temporary extension should either register or renew their permission by 15 January 2022 to ensure that they have a qualifying permission to remain in the State after that date, if that is their intention.”
The public registration office in Burgh Quay is open for appointments for first time registrations, and Dublin-based customers can renew a permission online at https://inisonline.jahs.ie.
Renewals outside of the Dublin area are processed by the Garda National Immigration Bureau through the Garda Station network. Information on the contact details for all the registration offices outside Dublin is available at: www.garda.ie/en/contact-us/station-directory.
Notes for Editors
The relevant notices will be published on the Department’s Immigration website (irishimmigration.ie) from 10am, Monday 15th November.
The Department is on track to make 11,000 citizenship decisions in 2021. This is a significant achievement in the context of the COVID-19 working environment, and positively reflects the dedication of staff and the impact of the suite of changes implemented over the past year.
By way of context, the number of citizenship decisions for each of the past five years are as follows:
Additional details on the changes announced by the Minister to citizenship processing will be set out on the Department’s Irish Immigration website (www.irishimmigration.ie), over the coming weeks.