Justice | Number of persons awaiting naturalisation
To ask the Minister for Justice the extent to which the number of persons awaiting naturalisation is being addressed with particular reference to those in this jurisdiction for more than five years and anxious to obtain employment; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
A non-EEA national does not necessarily need to become a naturalised Irish citizen before they can access employment in the State. Any person, during the five years reckonable residence required for naturalisation, may have been able to seek employment having been granted an immigration permission from my Department that permits employment, or upon being granted an employment permit from the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment.
My Justice Plan 2022 commits to developing a fully digital, customer-centric immigration service and to enhance the efficiency of our immigration system. In line with these commitments, a number of actions have been taken to reduce the impact on immigration processing times, including the introduction of online applications, a new customer service helpdesk and a new customer-focused immigration website.
As a result of the introduction of the temporary statutory declaration process in January 2021, and the additional staff assigned to the citizenship team, last year, 11,512 citizenship decisions were delivered. This is the highest number of decisions since 2015 and reflects positively the significant changes undertaken to date. For the first six months of 2022, almost 7,900 citizenship decisions have been issued.
Since 1 January 2022, new applicants for citizenship 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. This is also freeing up valuable staff that up to now have been engaged in returning passports to applicants and will also help to reduce processing times.
A number of digitisation measures have also been introduced to increase efficiency in the process, including eTax clearance, eVetting and online payments. The end result of the digitisation process will be to free up more staff to focus on processing applications in a timely and efficient manner, to improve service to our customers and reduce waiting times.
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