Tag Archive for: Naturalisation

NEW VISA REQUIREMENTS ANNOUNCED FOR NATIONALS OF BOTSWANA AND SOUTH AFRICA

NATURALISATION APPROVAL BASED ON STAMP 2A (SPOUSE OF PHD STUDENT)

Clients of Berkeley Solicitors have recently received a positive decision regarding a naturalisation application for a minor child of a Stamp 2A holder, based on their parent’s residence. It was previously thought that Stamp 2A was not reckonable for naturalisation purposes and this continues to be stated on the ISD website.

The applicant child’s parent was the spouse of a PhD student and held Stamp 2A on that basis.  We argued that the Stamp 2A permission was reckonable for naturalisation purposes pursuant to Section 16A(1) of the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 1956 (as amended) as the permission issued to the child’s parent as the spouse of a financially independent student, not for the purpose of engaging in a course of education or study. The application was ultimately successful.

We note that this is an extremely positive development, and we are grateful for the decision issued to our clients.

Please note that this legal argument would not apply to other categories of Stamp 2A holder who are themselves studying in Ireland.

For more information on citizen and naturalisation please see the link below:

https://berkeleysolicitors.ie/citizenship-and-naturalization/

If you or a family member have any queries regarding Stamp 2A and citizenship, please do not hesitate to contact us.

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.

RECENT HIGH COURT JUDGMENT UPHOLDS DECISION TO REFUSE IRISH PASSPORT TO CHILD OF SUBSIDIARY PROTECTION HOLDER

RECENT HIGH COURT JUDGMENT UPHOLDS DECISION TO REFUSE IRISH PASSPORT TO CHILD OF SUBSIDIARY PROTECTION HOLDER

The High Court has recently delivered a judgement in T.R.I. (A Minor Suing by his Mother and Next Friend L.B.) v The Minister for Foreign Affairs and the Minister for Justice [2024] IEHC 96.

The case concerned a minor child born in Ireland in September of 2019, whose mother holds a declaration of subsidiary protection status.

Subsidiary protection is granted to individuals facing a real risk of suffering serious harm if returned to their country of origin, or their country of former habitual residence.

In August of 2021, the Applicant’s mother applied for an Irish passport on behalf of her child.

Section 6A(1) of the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 1956 states that a person born on the island of Ireland “shall not be entitled” to Irish citizenship unless their parent has, during the four years immediately preceding the birth, a period of reckonable residence of not less than three years.

However, Section 6A(2)(d)(i) qualifies that section 6A(1) does not apply to a child born on the island of Ireland if one parent is entitled to reside in the State “without any restriction” on their residence.

As the mother is a subsidiary protection holder, it was argued that she fell within this subsection of persons who are entitled to reside in the State without any restriction on their period of residence. This would mean the child was entitled to Irish citizenship by birth, even though the mother had less than three years’ reckonable residence in the four years immediately prior to the child’s birth.

This application was refused on the 15th of November 2022, on the basis that Section 6A (2)(d)(i) of the 1956 Act does not apply to a person with subsidiary protection.

The Applicant, through his mother, challenged this decision by way of Judicial Review proceedings in the High Court. It was argued that the mother is entitled to reside in the State without restriction, as the relevant law states that her permission “shall” be renewable, and it is not in any way restricted by time.

The Applicants relied on the Court of Appeal decision in AJK v The Minister for Defence [2020] 2 IR 800, where the Court found that subsidiary protection was “in effect an open-ended right of residence.”

Ms Justice Bolger considered the decision in AJK and stated that she did not consider it established an open-ended right of residence for a person with subsidiary protection. She stated that the comments of Donnelly J must be read in context of the entire judgement and highlighted that the case did not concern citizenship.

Ms Justice Bolger stated that although the law states that the subsidiary protection permission “shall be renewable”, its renewal is in fact conditional; firstly on the continuation of the circumstances that justified the grant of subsidiary protection in the first place, and secondly on there being no compelling reasons of national security or public order.

The Judge stated:

“The mother’s right to renew her permission to reside in the State via her grant of subsidiary protection… is and always was for a temporally restricted permission of a period less than three years subject to conditions.”

Ms Justice Bolger therefore upheld the decision of the Respondent to refuse the child’s application for an Irish passport.

The full judgement can be found here.

If you or a family member have any queries regarding Citizenship, please do not hesitate to contact us.

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.

NEW VISA REQUIREMENTS ANNOUNCED FOR NATIONALS OF BOTSWANA AND SOUTH AFRICA

IMMIGRATION IN IRELAND STATISTICS MID-TERM REVIEW

 

The Department of Justice has provided up to date statistics from January 2022 to June 2022 in relation to, Residency and EU Treaty Rights, Visa, Citizenship statistics, International protection, and Removal/Deportation. The statistics were broken down by nationality, gender, and age group.

In relation to EU Treaty Rights Applications from January to June 2022, the data shows that nationals from Brazil, South Africa, and Pakistan were the top nationalities of applications received by the Department of Justice. 1356 applications were received from Brazil, 240 from Pakistan, and 153 from South Africa.

The statistics found that nationals from India, Egypt, and China were the top nationalities for Long Term Residency Applications. 30 applications for Indian nationals, 26 applications for Egyptian nationals, and 25 for Chinese nationals (including Hong Kong).

The total visas decided from January to June 2022 were primarily from India, Nigeria, and Turkey. With 21535 visas from Indian nationals, 3396 visas from Nigerian nationals, and 3019 visas from Turkish nationals. In total, most of the visas granted were for Indian (20736 visas), Turkish (2812 visas), and Chinese nationals (2477 visas). The most refused visas were for nationals from Nigeria (1568), India (799), and Pakistan (541), with an overall number of 5825 visas refused. The total decided re-entry visas from January to June 2022 were from Indian, Pakistani and Egyptian nationals.

From January to June 2022, there were 7039 citizenship certificates issued, mainly in respect of United Kingdom, Indian, and Pakistani nationals.

In total, there were 6495 applications received relating to International Protection Applications for 2022. Mainly from Georgia (1811), Somalia (938), and Algeria (698). Out of those applications, there were 1037 applications that have been approved, primarily from Somalia, Afghanistan, and Zimbabwe. Moreover, 1657 applications were refused primarily from Nigeria (216), Georgia (216), Zimbabwe (204).

In relation to Family Reunification Applications, there were 1137 applications submitted from January to June 2022, mainly from nationals of Somalia (489), Afghanistan (247), and Syria (69). 1911 applications for access to the labour market were submitted from January to June 2022, mainly from Somalia, Georgia, and Nigeria nationals.

There were 23 total removals effected, primarily from Romania, Lithuania, and Poland nationals. 54 deportations effected primarily from Pakistan, Nigeria, and Georgia nationals.

The book for the full statistics can be found here: https://www.irishimmigration.ie/wp-content/uploads/2023/01/Mid-Year-Review-Statistics-Booklet-2022.pdf

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.

NEW VISA REQUIREMENTS ANNOUNCED FOR NATIONALS OF BOTSWANA AND SOUTH AFRICA

UPCOMING CITIZENSHIP CEREMONIES

The Department of Justice has announced that the next citizenship ceremonies will take place on Monday the 19th and Tuesday the 20th of June 2023. The ceremonies are being hosted at the Killarney Convention Centre in Killarney, Co. Kerry.

Invitations will issue in due course to eligible candidates. Candidates are required to produce identity documents, for example a valid passport, on the day of the ceremony for verification purposes. At the ceremony candidates take an oath of fidelity to the nation, receive their certificate of naturalisation and become Irish citizens.

Berkeley Solicitors wishes to congratulate our clients who have recently been approved their applications for a Certificate of Naturalisation, and all who will be attending these ceremonies.

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.

IMMIGRATION IN IRELAND STATISTICS MID-TERM REVIEW

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.

NEW VISA REQUIREMENTS ANNOUNCED FOR NATIONALS OF BOTSWANA AND SOUTH AFRICA

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

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

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

Covid-19 restrictions have resulted in delays for over 24,000 people awaiting approval for naturalization.

With in-person citizenship ceremonies not set to resume until December, the approved applicants can now sign a statutory declaration in the presence of a designated official.

In a letter, the Minister for Justice offered her ‘warmest congratulations’ to the approved applicants as they begin a new chapter in their lives as Irish citizens.

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

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.

ESTABLISHMENT OF A SINGLE PERSON COMMITTEE OF INQUIRY INTO REFUSALS OF IRISH CITIZENSHIP WHERE NATIONAL SECURITY CONCERNS ARISE HAS BEEN ANNOUNCED

On 30th September 2020, the Minister for Justice and Equality announced the establishment of the awaited Single Person Committee of Inquiry into refusals of naturalisation applications where the refusal is in whole or in part based on national security concerns.

A new enhanced procedure was set up in compliance with the findings of the Supreme Court decision of A. P -v- Minister for Justice and Equality [2019] IESC 47, delivered on the 31st May 2019.

Our blog relating to this judgement can be found here.

Mr. Justice John Hedigan has been appointed as member of this single person committee. Mr. Justice John Hedigan was a Judge of The Court of Appeal in Ireland until his retirement. Prior to that, he was a Judge of The High Court from 2007 until 2016 and from 1998 until 2007 he was a Judge of The European Court of Human Rights.

This is a new procedure and it is yet to be seen how it will operate in practice. It appears that the system will operate on the basis that an applicant who has been refused naturalisation on basis of nationality security concerns can apply to the SPC. The SPC will then undertake an assessment and make a report to the Minister. The report will recommend to the Minister that the information used to form the basis of the refusal decision be provided in whole to the applicant, in part (“the gist” of the information) or that the information not be released to the applicant. The Minister will make her decision based on the report from the SPC.

Minister McEntee has stated in respect of Judge Hedigan’s appointment and to the establishment of this Committee:

“I am pleased that retired Judge John Hedigan has agreed to serve as the Member of the Single Person Committee. The establishment of the Committee will provide greater openness and transparency in the process for applicants who are refused a certificate of naturalisation in the small number of cases where National Security concerns arise.

“It also ensures that the confidentiality of matters of National Security continue to be appropriately maintained for the security of the State.”

The full announcement can be found here.

ANOTHER IMPORTANT JUDGEMENT ON GOOD CHARACTER ASSESSMENTS IN NATURALISATION APPLICATIONS

The Court of Appeal have delivered another important judgement relating to the Minister’s assessement of “good character” for the purposes of applications for naturalisation in the case of MNN v Minister for Justice and Equality [2020] IECA 187.

Along with the recent judgement of Talla v Minister for Justice and Equality [2020] IECA 135 this judgement is an important ruling with respect to the Minister’s obligations when conducting assessments of “good character” and could see a shift in the way in which applications for naturalisation are to be considered by the Minister.

The applicant in this case applied for naturalisation in October 2013 and received a refusal of his application based on good character grounds.

The applicant declared in his application that he had two convictions for road traffic matters, which occurred in December 2012, namely failure to display road tax and failure to display insurance disc. The applicant had only become aware of these matters in 2013 as the fixed penalty notices and summons had been sent to his former address with his spouse, which he never received.

In early 2016, the Minister sought further information from the applicant in relation to an incident in which he was described in the report as a “witness”, where Section 12 of the Child Care Act had been invoked following a domestic altercation.

The applicant provided a thorough explanation for this matter and had instructed legal representation in September 2017 to make further representations to the Minister. The court described the applicant as providing a “frank and forthright explanation”.

Some four and half years after applying for naturalisation, the applicant’s application was refused in February 2018. The Court examined in detail the “submission” upon which the decision to refuse was based. The Court noted that it was unclear if the decision maker had access to all the relevant information and context, including the applicant’s detailed representations in relation to the incidents.

The Court highlighted that the Minister’s absolute discretion in determining applications for naturalisation does not “relieve the Minister of the obligation to operate within the rule of law”.

The Court goes on to outline a set of principles to be applied in assessing good character and notes that even though naturalisation is a privilege, applicants do not enjoy “inferior legal protection”. Good character is to be assessed “against reasonable standards of civic responsibility” and the connection between character and criminality can only be established when the Minister has all information including “context and mitigating factors”. The Minister must undertake a comprehensive assessment of the person and “all aspects of character”, and “Whether the appellant is a model citizen plays no part in what the Minister has to determine…”.

The Court set out the test for assessing applicants who may have a criminal offence in their past:

“Criminal convictions are relevant to the assessment of character, but they are not, in themselves, determinative thereof. Thus, it is not sufficient for the Minister to have regard only to the fact that an applicant for naturalisation has criminal convictions. What is required is a consideration of ‘all aspects of an applicant’s character’ in deciding whether he or she meets the relevant requirement for the purpose of s. 15 of the Act. The correct test is worth repeating. It is not whether an applicant has previous criminal convictions- it is wider in scope than that. An applicant may be assessed as a person of good character even if he has criminal convictions, perhaps, all the more, so if the convictions in question relate to strict liability offence. Such offences do not depend of personal moral culpability. As noted by Lang J. in Hiri, a person may still be of good character notwithstanding a criminal conviction and a person may not be of good character despite having a clean criminal record.”

The Court reiterates that the Minister is entitled to take into consideration “allegations” or matters that do not result in criminal proceedings, however they should be taken into assessment with “all relevant information”.

The Minster in this case was found to have considered the “alleged incidents” as more than alleged.

The Court emphasised that where the Minister relies on traffic offences to determine that the appellant is not of good character, he must have an understanding of the nature of the offences. Also, the understanding that leads the Minister to conclude that the applicant is not of good character must be stated in reasons that can be understood by the Applicant.

The Court was not satisfied that the Minister had before him all the relevant information to enable him to form a reasonable view as to whether the appellant was of good character. The Court emphasised that there was nothing on the face of the decision to suggest the entire file, including the applicant’s submissions regarding the incidents, were considered by the decision maker.

The decision was therefore held to be unlawful as it was not evident that the Minister had considered the applicant’s submissions in reaching the conclusion that the applicant was not of good character.

The decision making process in itself, was found by the Court to be in breach of natural and constitutional justice.

This is a very significant judgement from the Court of Appeal, because it raises questions regarding the legality of many decisions of the Minister in refusing naturalisation on good character grounds.

If you have been refused naturalisation on the grounds of good character please contact the office to discuss your case with us.