An article in the Sunday Times, dated 17th January 2021 states that as of the 31st December 2020, more than 6,000 people had been waiting for over two years for their certificate of naturalisation in the State, with the total number of applications pending reaching 24,000.

This article states that many of the applicants awaiting a determination are healthcare workers, whose careers have been affected by the inordinate delay by the Department of Justice. One Doctor of an Irish hospital stated “As much as I enjoy the warmth of people and society in Ireland, I find it’s almost impossible to progress in a career without citizenship”

The standard processing time for an application for naturalisation, according to the website of the Department of Justice, is 12 months. The pandemic has of course delayed the issuance of certificates over the last 11 months, but not to the point where some people are waiting almost three years.

With this in mind, the Minister has released information on a temporary process within which 4,000 naturalization applicants awaiting the determination of their applications will be permitted to gain naturalization by the end of March. More information on the scheme can be found here.

This new scheme means one sixth of the applications currently pending, will receive their certificate of naturalization within the next three months. Many of those who have already been waiting in excess of 2 years, without a decision, will continue to wait.

It is important to note that naturalisation is a privilege and not an entitlement of any applicant, irrespective of how long they have been resident in the State. The Department of Justice, in not issuing a decision either way, is leaving many applicants in limbo.

Many of our clients will welcome the new temporary scheme issued by the Minister for Justice, as a positive move in the direction of clearing the backlog of 24,000 applications. We hope this will be the first scheme of many as we continue to navigate life virtually for the foreseeable future.