Tag Archive for: Irish citizenship

RECOMMENCEMENT OF CITIZENSHIP CEREMONIES

The first citizenship ceremony since early 2020 was recently held on the 20th June 2022 in Killarney, County Kerry.

The in-person ceremonies were postponed for over two years due to Covid-19 restrictions.

The ceremonies were temporarily replaced with the signing of a declaration of fidelity to the State.

Berkeley Solicitors wishes to congratulate all those who have recently received their Irish Citizenship and we welcome the return of the citizenship ceremonies which allows the recipients to celebrate this occasion.

If you or a family member has any queries regarding your immigration status please do not hesitate to contact us.

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a current permission to reside in Ireland, whether they arrived illegally or whether their permission expired or was withdrawn years ago.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.

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.

CHILDREN BORN IN IRELAND WITHOUT ENTITLEMENT TO NATIONALITY OF ANY OTHER COUNTRY

Berkeley Solicitors continues to act for a number of children born in Ireland without an entitlement to nationality of any other country.

We believe that our clients are entitled to Irish citizenship pursuant to Article 6(3) of the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 1956.

Section 6 (3) of the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 1956 as amended by section 3(1) of the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act, 2001, states as follows:

“A person born in the island of Ireland is an Irish citizen from birth if he or she is not entitled to citizenship of any other country.”

Berkeley Solicitors is proud to have successfully acted for one client who was approved a Certificate of Nationality on foot of Section 6 (3) of the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 1956 as amended.

We currently have a number of similar applications pending. However, these applications tend to be subject to very long delays.

Further difficulties arise because the Minister has failed to implement a lawful application procedure for such children applying for recognition of their Irish citizenship.

Berkeley Solicitors calls on the Minister to implement a lawful procedure for the small cohort of children resident in Ireland, who are entitled to Irish citizenship pursuant to Section 6 (3) of the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 1956 as amended.

 

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.

REVOCATION OF IRISH CITIZENSHIP – IRISH SUPREME COURT DECLARES SECTIONS OF THE IRISH NATIONALITY AND CITIZENSHIP ACT ARE UNCONSTITUTIONAL FOLLOWING JUDGEMENT IN DAMACHE V MINISTER FOR JUSTICE

On 14th October 2020, the Supreme Court found that the system in place for the revocation of Irish citizenship by way of naturalisation, as set out in section 19 of the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 1956, was unconstitutional.

Under the provisions of Section 19 the Minister for Justice is required to notify a person that she intends to revoke their certificate of naturalisation. The affected person can then apply for an inquiry as to the reasons for revocation, and this application is referred to an independent committee of inquiry appointed by the Minister.

The Supreme Court held that this process does not meet the high standards of natural justice applicable to a person facing the severe consequence of losing their Irish citizenship. Central to this decision was the fact that the Minister for Justice is not bound by the findings of the independent committee, and that there is no right of appeal from the Minister’s decision.

Ultimately, the revocation process under Section 19 resulted in a situation where the same person who initiated the revocation process (the Minister), and whose representatives make the case for revocation before the committee, also makes the final decision to revoke.

The Supreme Court therefore found that Section 19 of the 1956 Act was unconstitutional. However, it deferred making its final orders until it had heard further submissions from the parties and the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission, who acted as amicus curiae in the proceedings, as to whether any aspects of Section 19 should be upheld, or whether Section 19 should be struck down in its entirety.

The Supreme Court heard these additional submissions on 21st January 2021.

On Wednesday 10th February 2021, the Court granted declarations that Sections 19(2) and 19(3) be struck down in their entirety but found that it was not necessary to strike down section 19(1), which contains the ministerial power to revoke and the grounds for such revocation.

As a result of these declarations, new statutory provisions for the revocation of certificates of naturalisation will have to be implemented. Until this occurs, the Minister for Justice cannot exercise her statutory power to revoke a certificate of naturalisation.

As reported by the Irish Times, Ms Justice Dunne said it is “inconceivable” that the Minister for Justice could revoke a grant of citizenship until a new process is in place with safeguards to meet natural justice requirements.

The full judgement of the Supreme Court can be read here (https://www.courts.ie/acc/alfresco/9f6e2c6d-eb77-4c9f-ad57-fffe7ffc65f6/2020_IESC_63.pdf/pdf) and the Irish Times article can be read here (https://www.irishtimes.com/news/crime-and-law/courts/supreme-court/supreme-court-ruling-to-require-new-rules-for-revoking-citizenship-1.4481073)

Berkeley Solicitors will post further updates on the ever-evolving law surrounding revocation of Irish citizenship as it become available.

If you or a family member have queries about the naturalisation process, please contact our office.

MINISTER FOR JUSTICE ANNOUNCES NEW TEMPORARY PROCESS FOR GRANTING CITIZENSHIP DURING COVID-19 RESTRICTIONS

On 18th January 2021, the Minister for Justice Helen McEntee announced a new temporary process for the granting of citizenship during Covid-19 restrictions.

In normal circumstances, successful applicants are required to attend a citizenship ceremony in order to obtain a certificate of nationality.

However, citizenship ceremonies have been suspended since March 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Under the new temporary system, qualifying applicants will be asked to complete a statutory declaration that will be emailed to them by the Citizenship Division of the Department of Justice. They will be required to bring the statutory declaration to one of the listed designated officials who will witness the applicant sign the statutory declaration.

The applicant must then send the signed statutory declaration, the appropriate fee and any other requested documentation to the Department’s Citizenship Division. A certificate of naturalisation signed by the Minister for Justice will then be sent to the applicant.

This new system is in place from 18th January 2021.

Commenting on the new system, the Minister stated Minister McEntee said:

“The granting of Irish citizenship through naturalisation is a privilege and an honour which is recognised by the thousands of people who apply every year. I am pleased that we can now bring some certainty to the people whose applications have effectively been on hold during the pandemic.

Approximately 4,000 applicants have not been able to receive a certificate of naturalisation due to the temporary suspension of citizenship ceremonies. The process I am opening today means that certificates can now be granted again, once the signed and witnessed statutory declaration and relevant fee has been received by my Department.”

The Department of Justice will be in contact with qualifying applicants regarding the requirements on a phased basis over the next few months until in-person citizenship ceremonies are able to recommence.

The Department stated that the 4,000 applicants currently waiting on naturalisation will have been provided with an opportunity to gain citizenship by the end of March.

The Minister also commented that in-person ceremonies are provisionally scheduled to resume in December 2021.

In addition to this, Minister McEntee outlined some additional digital measures that she intends to implement in order to simplify the naturalisation process:

“I am putting the Justice Sector on a Digital First footing and will move our services away from old, paper-based systems.

Plans for the digitalisation of the naturalisation process are well advanced, through increased digital and ICT investment. As part of this process, eTax-clearance for citizenship applicants has been introduced. Online payments have been trialled for applications from minors and the process is currently being rolled out to adult applications on a phased basis.”

If you have any queries about the naturalisation process, please do not hesitate to contact our office.

SUPREME COURT JUDGEMENT ON FAMILY REUNIFICATION FOR NATURALISED REFUGEES: M.A.M. (SOMALIA) AND K.N. (UZBEKISTAN)

Berkeley Solicitors are delighted to congratulate our client who won her appeal in the Supreme Court today in the joint test cases of – M.A.M. (Somalia) v The Minister for Justice and Equality and K.N. (Uzbekistan) and Others v The Minister for Justice. The judgement of Mr Justice McMenamin was a unanimous judgement of the Supreme Court in favour of the appellants, and was delivered on the 19th June 2020.

The judgement is very significant as it affects not just the individual families taking the appeal, but approximately fifty other applicant families who have cases pending in the High Court holding list awaiting the outcome of this Supreme Court appeal.

The case arose from a challenge to the decision of the Minister for Justice to refuse family reunification to our client’s family members under The Refugee Act of 1996 (as amended). The sole reason for the Minister’s decision was the fact that our client had become an Irish citizen by naturalisation prior to her family reunification application, and the Minister held she was not therefore entitled to the family reunification rights as a refugee.

During the course of the proceedings, the Minister accepted that the Department of Justice had previously interpreted Section 18 of the 1996 Refugee Act to permit naturalised refugees to apply for family reunification for their family members, and this favourable scheme was in operation between 2010 and October 2017. The Minister also accepted that in October 2017, following new legal advices, the Minister commenced a new procedure to preclude naturalised refugees from applying for family reunification. This change in policy resulted in many naturalised refugees being refused family reunification during the period of 2017 and 2018, prior to the commencement of the family reunification provisions of the International Protection Act 2015.

The Minister argued that in order for a person to have rights to family reunification under Section 18 of the 1996 Act, not only must they hold a declaration confirming their refugee status, but they must also be a refugee in line with the definition of a refugee in Section 2 of the Act. As this definition requires a person to be outside their “country of nationality” to be a refugee, the Minister’s argument was that a refugee who becomes naturalised is no longer deemed to be a refugee as they are not outside their country of nationality, when that country becomes Ireland.

The Supreme Court disregarded this argument, holding that there was nothing to suggest in the Act that the appellants’ “country of nationality” had altered from Somalia and Uzbekistan to Ireland, as their well-founded fear of persecution remained  in those countries and not Ireland.

The Supreme Court carried out a detailed statutory interpretation exercise in respect of the 1996 Refugee Act, and highlighted the absurdities that would follow if a refugee with a declaration of refugee status would also have to be “deemed” to be a refugee in order to avail of the important rights of family reunification.

The court stated:

“The consequence of the interpretation urged by the Minister would be to create substantial legislative uncertainty when the purpose of the 1996 Act was to achieve clarity. The case advanced would run counter to the legislative aim of the Oireachtas, which was, by a carefully devised procedure defined in the Act, to identify one definitive “mark” of recognition to persons who were entitled to refugee status in this State, which, in turn, would grant them benefits and entitlements.”

In conclusion, the Supreme Court held as follows:

“This judgement concludes that the fact that the appellants became citizens did not deprive them of the right to apply for family reunification under s.18 of the 1996 Act.”

This is a very welcome decision from the Supreme Court, because it gives certainty to the definition of a refugee and the interpretation of the family reunification provisions in the 1996 Refugee Act.

In effect it means that all the decisions issued by the Minister during the period of 2017 and 2018 to refuse applications for family reunification under the 1996 Act because the sponsors were refugees who had naturalised as Irish citizens, were unlawful.

It also means that the decisions granting family reunification to naturalised refugees during the 2010 to 2017 period are lawful, bringing legal certainty to the status of countless families now settled in Ireland.

We would expect that Minister will now agree to withdraw these previous unlawful decisions refusing family reunification, and reconsider and re determine the applications in line with the Supreme Court’s judgement.

We welcome the clarity that this judgement brings and look forward to working with our clients to have the unlawful family reunification decisions withdrawn and re determined.

The full judgement can be read here.

We are happy to advise further to anyone believes they are affected by this judgement.

Berkeley Solicitors

UK GOVERNMENT PUBLISHES DRAFT IMMIGRATION BILL GUARANTEEING RIGHT OF IRISH CITIZENS TO LIVE AND WORK IN THE UK POST BREXIT

Last month, the UK Government published the Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill, which provides the legislative basis for ending EU free movement arrangements in the UK once the Brexit transition period has expired.

The Bill aims to retain the Common Travel Area rights of Irish citizens to live and work in the UK without restrictions. Section 2 of the Bill provides that “an Irish citizen does not require leave to enter or remain in the United Kingdom”. Exceptions to this include the possibility to deport Irish citizens for serious criminal offences.

The British Immigration Minister Kevin Foster has stated that the Bill “provides certainty and clarity for Irish citizens on their rights to enter and live in the UK, reflecting the reciprocal arrangements for British citizens in Ireland.”

In practice, the Bill will ensure that there is no change to free movement between Ireland and the UK for Irish citizens. This follows repeated assurances from both the Irish and UK governments that the Common Travel Area, which has been in place since 1922, will remain valid post-Brexit.

However, in its current form, the Bill does not provide Irish citizens with any right to have family members reside with them, unlike EU free movement law.

Other EU citizens may require visas to enter and reside in the UK from as early as 2021. The UK Home Office has announced its intention to introduce a points-based immigration system for both EU and non-EU citizens.

At present, these proposals are at a very early stage and are subject to change as the Bill moves through the legislative process. Members of Parliament are scheduled to consider the Bill for a second reading on Tuesday 21 April 2020.

The full text of the Bill can be found here.

2,000 PEOPLE FROM OVER 100 COUNTRIES CONFERRED WITH IRISH CITIZENSHIP

Congratulations to the almost 2,000 people who were conferred with Irish citizenship at ceremonies in Co. Kerry on Monday 9th December 2019.

We especially wish to congratulate a number of our clients who have recently received positive naturalisation decisions.

The new citizens are originally from 103 different countries, with over a quarter originating from Poland and the United Kingdom.

The ceremonies took place at the Gleneagle INEC in Killarney and were presided over by retired High Court judge. The Minister for Justice, Charlie Flanagan, and Minister of State for Equality, Immigration and Integration, David Stanton, were also in attendance.

Such ceremonies had been placed on hold following the High Court ruling in the Jones case in July 2019 that anyone applying for citizenship could not spend a day outside Ireland in the 12 months before applying.

Last month the Court of Appeal overturned this ruling, calling it “unduly rigid” and “unworkable”.

Minister Stanton described the ceremony as a major life event for the candidates, stating:

“Ultimately it’s about building a society where we all live in harmony while, at the same time, respecting our cultural and religious differences… The possibilities open to you in Ireland today are almost limitless. You are now beginning a new journey and a new phase in your life by becoming Irish citizens.”

Approximately 127,000 people have received Irish citizenship in the last 18 years. If you or a family member wish to discuss applying for naturalisation, please do not hesitate to contact our office.