Tag Archive for: DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE AND EQUALITY

REFUSAL OF NATURALISATION APPLICATION ON GOOD CHARACTER GROUNDS OVERTURNED BY HIGH COURT

REFUSAL OF NATURALISATION APPLICATION ON GOOD CHARACTER GROUNDS OVERTURNED BY HIGH COURT

Mr Justice Garrett Simons of the High Court has recently delivered a judgement in the case of A.J.A v Minister for Justice [2022] IEHC 162 JR.

The case concerned a refusal of an application for naturalisation.

The application was refused on the grounds that the Applicant did not meet the good character criterion under Section 15(1)(b) of the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act, 1956. The Applicant was found to have submitted a potentially false Somali passport with her application.

The Applicant subsequently issued judicial review proceedings in the High Court to challenge the decision to refuse her application for a certificate of naturalisation. This was the second set of judicial review proceedings issued by the Applicant in respect of her application for naturalisation. The Applicant had issued judicial review proceedings in 2021 challenging the delay in processing her application. These proceedings were struck out of the High Court in January 2022, following the issuance of a decision on the Applicant’s application in December 2021.

The primary issue that was considered in the second set of judicial review proceedings was whether fair procedures had been observed in the Minister’s decision-making process.

The Applicant submitted her application for naturalisation on the 29th May 2017. On the 6th November 2017, the Applicant’s solicitors submitted a letter to the Minister that highlighted the Applicant’s concern as to the genuineness of the passport that she had submitted with her application. On the 10th May 2018, the Applicant’s solicitors sent a further letter to outline attempts made by the Applicant to have a new Somali passport issued. The Respondent then sent a letter in response, confirming that a thorough investigation was required as to the genuineness of the Applicant’s passport.  It was the Applicant herself who proactively contacted the Minister in relation to this issue and confirmed that she had always acted in good faith in respect of her application for a passport and in respect of her application for naturalisation.

The Applicant was ultimately successful in the High Court on the grounds that the Minister’s decision did not consider the Applicant’s explanation nor the exculpatory factors at issue.

Mr Justice Garrett Simons found that submission of the Minister did not meet the prescribed standard of fair procedures as it failed to acknowledge the explanations offered by the Applicant in respect of her passport. Ms Justice Garrett Simons found that, “The omission from the submission/recommendation of an accurate record of the explanation and exculpatory factors is fatal to the validity of the decision made.” The Court further found that the Minister’s decision did not meet the legal test for the adequacy of reasons.

The Court acknowledged that the submission of a false passport is an extremely serious issue and could of course legitimately give rise to a decision to refuse an application for Irish citizenship by way of naturalisation. The Court found that it was the manner in which the decision was made that was problematic, it was not clear whether the Applicant’s explanation that due to the circumstances in Somalia and the lack of Government, she could not confirm if her passport was valid or not,  had been provided to the Minister when the decision to refuse was made. The Court held that “The failure of the respondent in the present case to take the basic step of identifying the precise documents which had been submitted to the ultimate decision-maker is regrettable”.

The Minister of Justice’s decision to refuse the Applicant’s naturalisation application was quashed. The Court held:

 

  1. The submission/recommendation in the present case failed to meet the prescribed standard of fair procedures. The principal deficiency is that the submission/recommendation fails to record, even in the most cursory form, the explanations offered by the Applicant, through her solicitors, for the submission of the false passport. There is no reference to the practical difficulties asserted by the Applicant in obtaining a passport from Somalia given what is said to be the absence of a functioning central government there. Nor is there any reference to the efforts made by the Applicant to travel to the Somali Embassy in Belgium for the purpose of obtaining a passport. Although these events occurred after the submission of the false passport, they are, 13 arguably, indicative of the practical difficulties which a Somalia national, who has been long-term resident in the Irish State, faces in obtaining a passport from that country

The full judgement can be found here.

This blog article has been prepared on the basis of current immigration law and policy, which is subject to change. Please keep an eye on our blog and Facebook page where articles relating to updates and changes in immigration law and policy are regularly posted.

VISA REQUIREMENTS BETWEEN UKRAINE AND IRELAND LIFTED WITH IMMEDIATE EFFECT

Up until today, nationals of Ukraine required entry visas to travel to and enter Ireland.

This involves submitting a detailed visa application to the Irish Embassy prior to travel. This process can often incur long delays and requires a huge array of original documentation.

On the 25th February 2022, Minister for Justice, Helen McEntee has announced that nationals of Ukraine are now non-visa required persons in the Irish immigration context and that this emergency measure will be implemented with immediate effect.

This means that nationals of Ukraine no longer require an entry visa in advance of travel to the State and can travel to the State and request entry at the border as a non-visa required national.

In the Minister’s press release it is stated that those who travel to Ireland from Ukraine without a visa during this time will be given 90 days to regularise their immigration permission in the State.

The appropriate immigration application to make upon arrival in Ireland will differ depending on the particular circumstances of the person arriving.

In a statement, Minister McEntee stated that she is “appalled by the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and the unjustified and unprovoked attack against a democratic sovereign state in Europe.” Minister McEntee confirmed that Ireland stands in solidarity with the Ukrainian people.

The full announcement can be read here.

We welcome the Minister’s action which may assist citizens of Ukraine to flee to safety and assist families in Ireland to be reunited with their Ukrainian family members on an urgent basis and avoid a delayed visa processing system.

Berkeley Solicitors wishes to express our deepest concerns for the people of Ukraine and if you or your family require legal advice in respect of the matters raised in this blog please do not hesitate to get in touch.

NEW ENTRY AND TRANSIT VISA REQUIREMENTS FOR CERTAIN AFRICAN COUNTRIES AMENDED

We refer to our previous blog on 30th November 2021:

https://berkeleysolicitors.ie/new-entry-and-transit-visa-requirements-for-certain-african-countries-announced/

The Minister for Justice has amended the  entry visa and transit visa requirements for nationals of South Africa, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho  and Namibia.

The priority categories for which visa applications will be accepted and processed  has been amended and severely reduced to the following:

  • has obtained or is entitled to apply for a right of residence under EU Free Movement;
  • has a valid Residence Permission in the State under the immigration Acts (including persons covered by the interim arrangements that apply from 15 November 2021 to 15 January 2021
  • is a family member of an Irish citizen
  • has not been in one of the following countries (South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique, and Zimbabwe) in the previous 14 days prior to the date of travel to the State;
  • is a diplomat and to whom the privileges and immunities conferred by an international agreement or arrangement or customary international law apply in the State, pursuant to the Diplomatic Relations and Immunities Acts 1967 to 2006 or any other enactment or the Constitution.

This is severely reduced from the previous notice, which included employment permit holders and all join family visa applications.

Affected persons  should also take note of the Minister’s note of caution that further changes may take place at short notice.

If this affects you or your family, please get in contact with Berkeley Solicitors to discuss your case.

 

MINISTER FOR JUSTICE ANNOUNCES NEW REGULARISATION SCHEME FOR LONG-TERM UNDOCUMENTED MIGRANTS

On 3rd December 2021, the Minister for Justice announced a new scheme which will enable many undocumented migrants to apply to regularise their residency status.

The scheme will open for online applications in January 2022 and applications will be accepted for six months.

The scheme will include those who do not have a current permission to reside in Ireland, whether they arrived illegally or whether their permission expired or was withdrawn years ago.

In order to be eligible, applicants must have been undocumented for a period of four years, or three years in the case of those with dependent children.

According to a briefing session with Department of Justice officials held on 2nd December  2021, a short period of absence from the State in the undocumented period for those who would otherwise qualify will be disregarded. This will be limited to a max of 60 days absence from the State and the documented period arising from the short-term tourist permission (up to 90 days).

Applicants must meet standards regarding good character, though having convictions for minor offences will not, of itself, result in disqualification.

There will be no requirement for applicants to demonstrate that they would not be a financial burden on the State, as the scheme is aimed at those who may be economically and socially marginalised as a result of their undocumented status.

The scheme will also be open to individuals with expired student permission, those who have been issued with a section 3 notice under the Immigration Act 1999, and those who have received deportation orders.

The scheme is also expected to include international protection applicants who have been in the asylum process for a minimum of 2 years, though full details on this are yet to be announced.

There will be an application fee of €700 for family unit applications, while a fee of €550 will apply to individuals’ applications. Children up to 23 years, living with their parent(s), can be included in a family unit application.

Successful applicants will be granted residence permission which will allow access to the labour market and will provide a pathway to Irish citizenship.

Announcing the scheme, the Minister for Justice Helen McEntee stated:

“I’m delighted that the Government has approved my proposal for this momentous, once-in-a-generation scheme.

Given that those who will benefit from this scheme currently live in the shadows, it is difficult to say how many will be eligible, but we are opening this scheme for six months from January to allow people come forward and regularise their status.

It will bring some much-needed certainty and peace of mind to thousands of people who are already living here and making a valuable contribution to our society and the economy, many of whom may be very vulnerable due to their current immigration circumstances.”

As a result, they may be reluctant to seek medical assistance when ill, assistance from An Garda Síochána when they are the victim of a crime, or a range of other supports designed to assist vulnerable people in their times of need.”

I believe that in opening this scheme, we are demonstrating the same goodwill and generosity of spirit that we ask is shown to the countless Irish people who left this island to build their lives elsewhere.”

The full announcement can be read here.

Studies suggest that there are 17,000 undocumented persons in the State, including up to 3,000 children.

Berkeley Solicitors welcomes the announcement of this scheme, which will allow many undocumented migrants to come forward and apply to regularise their status.

MINISTER FOR JUSTICE ANNOUNCES CHANGES TO NATURALISATION APPLICATIONS AND IMMIGRATION REQUIREMENTS OVER THE CHRISTMAS PERIOD

In notices dated the 15th and 16th November 2021, the Minister for Justice has announced a number of immigration changes to the processing of naturalisation applications and immigration requirements over the Christmas period.

With regards to the processing of naturalisation applications, the Minister has announced that that from the 1st January 2022, new applicants for naturalisation will not be required to submit their original passports with the initial application.

Applicants will instead be required to submit 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 and supporting documents.

In addition, the Minister announced that significant changes are being introduced regarding the number of proofs required to establish identity and residency as part of the application process. More details will be announced on the Department’s website in the coming weeks.

With regards to immigration requirements over the Christmas period, the Minister announced that anyone holding an Irish Residence Permit card that was in-date at the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020 can use their current expired card to depart from and return to Ireland in confidence over Christmas and until 15 January 2022.

It was also announced that re-entry visa requirements for children under the age of 16 have also been suspended until 15th January 2022.

The notice states that holders of expired IRP cards wishing to travel over the Christmas period must be able to show a copy of the travel confirmation notice, available here, and their original expired IRP when travelling.

This is a temporary measure and travellers with expired cards will need to return to Ireland before the 15th January 2022. This measure is not available to persons who do not have a physical IRP card in their possession.

We welcome these changes which will simplify the naturalisation application process and will allow individuals with expired IRP cards to travel and visit family over Christmas.

The full notices can be read here and here.

Further updates will be posted on our blog.

If you or a family member have queries about your immigration status, please do not hesitate to contact our office.

CONGRATULATIONS TO CLIENTS OF BERKELEY SOLICITORS WHO HAVE BEEN RECENTLY APPROVED FOR NATURALISATION

Berkeley Solicitors offers congratulations to a number of our clients who have recently received approval on their naturalisation applications.

This is very welcome news for our clients, many of whom have been waiting in excess of two years to have their applications approved.

The successful applicants have been invited to attend a citizenship ceremony on Monday 13th December 2021, the first in-person ceremony in many months due to Covid-19 restrictions.

Berkeley Solicitors congratulates our clients on receiving this good news after a very long wait.

If you or a family member have queries about the naturalisation process, please do not hesitate to contact our office.

MINISTER FOR JUSTICE ANNOUNCES FURTHER EXTENSION OF IMMIGRATION PERMISSIONS

On 26th March 2021, the Minister for Justice Helen McEntee published a notice announcing a further temporary extension of immigration and international protection permissions. This extension applies to immigration and international protection permissions to reside in the State that are due to expire between 21st April 2021 and 20th September 2021.

It applies to all persons with a current valid permission, whether pursuant to domestic law or powers of the Minister, or pursuant to Directive 2004/38/EC (the EU Free Movement Directive).

All such permissions are automatically renewed by the Minister to the 20th of September 2021.

Any permission that was renewed by the previous notices and was due to expire between 21st April 2021 and 20th September 2021 is automatically renewed by this notice until 20th September 2021.

The automatic renewal is on the same basis as the existing permission and the same conditions will continue to apply.

Announcing the measure, the Minister for Justice commented:

“As the COVID-19 situation continues to evolve, I want to reassure people whose immigration permissions are due to expire shortly that your legal status in the country will continue to be maintained. To do this, I am introducing a further automatic extension to 20 September 2021 for anyone already holding a valid permission.

“This extension will benefit those who cannot get an appointment to register or renew an existing permission. However, I encourage anyone who can renew, particularly Dublin-based customers who can use the online system, to do so and not to wait until September.

The notice also confirms that the Registration Office in Burgh Quay remains closed due to Covid-19 restrictions. Persons who were issued with appointments for first time registrations will be contacted directly by the Immigration Service and they will be prioritised for appointments once the Public Office can safely reopen.

The notice can be read in full here.

If you or a family member have queries about your immigration permission, please do not hesitate to contact our office.

UPCOMING CITIZENSHIP CEREMONIES

MINISTER FOR JUSTICE ANNOUNCES CHANGES TO REQUIREMENTS FOR CHILDREN APPLYING FOR IRISH CITIZENSHIP

On 23rd March 2021, the Minister for Justice, Helen McEntee, announced that she will make it easier for children born here, whose parents are not Irish citizens and who are not entitled to citizenship at birth, to gain Irish citizenship themselves.

The current policy is that a child born in the State, but who is not entitled to citizenship by birth, needs to be resident in Ireland for five of the previous eight years before they can apply for citizenship.

Minister McEntee announced that she intends to reduce the residency requirements for such children from five years to three years.

These changes will be contained in the upcoming Civil Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2021, which is expected to be submitted to Government in the coming weeks.

Once this legislation comes into force, the number of years a minor must be resident in Ireland will now be two years out of the previous eight, in addition to the requirement to have one year’s continuous residence immediately prior to their citizenship application.

Announcing this step, the Minister for Justice commented:

“The granting of Irish citizenship is a privilege and an honour which is recognised by the thousands of people who apply every year. It is my hope that reducing the amount of time children of non-Irish nationals born in Ireland have to wait before being eligible for citizenship will provide comfort and reassurance to many families across the country.

 This amendment provides increased security for children where a parent subsequently falls out of permission as the child will be entitled to Irish citizenship and will therefore be an EU citizen with the right to remain in the State with a non-EEA national guardian or parent.

However, it will not broaden the categories of children who are entitled to citizenship and this amendment will only apply to the children of those parents who are legally resident in the State. Children born here to non-national parents who have three years prior residency will continue to be Irish citizens from birth.”

This is a welcome development which will allow children who are currently on a pathway to citizenship to attain this status at a much earlier stage.

The full announcement can be read here.

If you or a family member have any queries about applying for Irish citizenship, please contact our office.

NEW VISA AND PRECLEARANCE APPLICATION SUSPENSIONS EXTENDED

On 29th January 2021, a notice was posted on the Department of Justice website confirming that new measures had been imposed from the 29th January 2021, including the cessation of accepting new visa or preclearance applications from all countries.

On 4th March the Department of Justice website update the notice and has confirmed that these measures have now been extended to at least the 5th April 2021. It is understood that the situation will continue to be reviewed. We understand this is very upsetting news for many of our clients.

The Department are continuing to process applications submitted before the 29th January 2021.

However, the notice further states that:

“For applications which were received prior to January 29th, these will continue to be processed. However, for successful applications, unless your application meets the Emergency/Priority criteria set out above, a visa or preclearance approval letter will not issue until such time as these restrictions have been lifted. You will be notified if your application is successful. Refusal letters for unsuccessful applications on hand will continue to be issued.

We continue to accept and process appeals. However, for successful appeals, unless your appeal meets the Emergency/Priority criteria set out above, a visa or preclearance approval letter will not issue until such time as these restrictions have been lifted (we will notify you that your appeal was successful). Refusal letters for unsuccessful appeals will continue to be issued.”

Therefore, should your visa or preclearance application be approved during this period, the visa or preclearance approval letter will not be issued until restrictions have been lifted.

Priority or Emergency cases will continue to be processed online during this extension in the normal manner and the categories of applications considered to be priority or emergency has remained the same.

The full list of applications currently falling in the above category can be found here.

The notice is available to read in full here.

If this notice affects you or your family please get in contact with us to discuss your case.

UPDATE ON PROMISED SCHEME TO REGULARISE STATUS OF UNDOCUMENTED MIGRANTS

The Minister for Justice Helen McEntee is due to publish her Justice Plan 2021 today, the 22nd February 2021.

The plan contains more than 200 actions which are to be implemented in the next 12 months, including the promised regularisation scheme for undocumented persons.

According to an article in The Journal, the scheme is expected to launch in the autumn and applications will be accepted by the end of the year.

The Minister for Justice was quoted as saying:

“We are all familiar with the plight of the undocumented Irish who have built their lives in the United States but have not regularised their status, even though they are an integral part of their communities. 

We must acknowledge there are thousands of people here in Ireland in a similar position: who have started families here, work here and contribute so much to our society but who want to regularise their position with Irish authorities.

The scheme will be open to applicants by the end of the year and could benefit an estimated 17,000 people, including 3,000 young people or children.”

Berkeley Solicitors welcomes the news that the Department of Justice is prioritising this important issue and we look forward to the scheme being published.

As soon as the intended scheme is published, we will post a further update on this blog.

The full article can be read here.

If you or a family member have any queries about your immigration status, please do not hesitate to contact our office.