Justice | Citizenship application numbers and timeframe from January to March 2022
To ask the Minister for Justice the number of applications for citizenship received by her Department from 1 January 2022 to 31 March 2022; the number of applications that were received in this period that have subsequently been granted; when it is expected to process these applications; the anticipated timeframe for same; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
I am deeply conscious of how important the granting of naturalisation is to those who apply for it and my Department continued to accept and process citizenship applications throughout the pandemic and during all levels of public health restrictions.
The total number of applications received between 1 January 2022 and 31 March 2022 is 3,706.
Of these, 3 have been successful in their naturalisation application and received their Certificates of Naturalisation. A further 24 are currently in the final stage of processing.
Regrettably, the current average processing time for naturalisation applications is approximately 19 months, however this has recently been reduced from an average of 23 months.
All applications for a certificate of naturalisation are processed and assessed individually in accordance with the provisions of the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 1956, as amended.
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 assignment of additional staff to the citizenship team, last year, 11,512 citizenship decisions were made. This is the highest number of decisions made annually 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, including 1,005 decisions on minor applications. This exceeds the total number of minor decisions issued during the whole of last year; when 868 minor decisions were made.
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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