Positive immigration updates in Ireland
The authorities have announced some welcome developments in the last couple of days in Ireland.
Read on for details below.
Foreign Birth Registration
The Department of Foreign Affairs has announced that processing has resumed on a 'phased basis' from Monday 15 November. The DFA further state that applications that have been sent to the FBR team have been securely held and will now be processed in strict date order and that 'due to the complex nature of the Foreign Birth Registration and the pause in the Service due to the Covid-19 restrictions you should allow approximately 2 years for processing of Foreign Birth Registration applications at this time.'
It is not clear what the 'phased basis' is but it is certainly welcomed that processing has started again. I have applications in processing well in excess of 2 years and it is hoped some approvals or communications will be received in the coming weeks as clients have understandably querying the position.
The Citizenship Unit has announced that from 1 January 2022, new applicants for citizenship will not be required to submit their original passport with the initial application. Instead, a full colour copy of their entire passport, including the front and back covers as witnessed by a solicitor may be submitted with the application form.
Those intending on travelling between now and the Christmas holidays should consider waiting until the New Year to make their citizenship application when the new process will apply.
Also significant changes are also being introduced regarding the number of proofs required to establish identity and residency as part of the application process.
The Citizenship Unit further state:
'From January, the Department will be moving to a scorecard approach, which will bring added clarity regarding what information applicants will be required to provide to establish their identity and residency. In particular, for doctors who are employed in the HSE or in Voluntary Hospitals, the provision of a “Medical Practitioner Employment History Summary” will be accepted as proof of residence.'
Allowing applicants send certified copy passports will certainly help the extremely uncertain and indeed laborious task for applicants and the Citizenship Unit. It is unclear how passports will be used in the future for citizenship applications given the current practice of online renewals of immigration registration (and related lack of continuous stamps) and apparent gaps in stamps from COVID despite automatic extensions.
The new proofs process will also be welcomed by those searching for utility bills from five or six years ago but any processes should be extended to all applicants rather than to a select group.
Changes to immigration requirements for travel over the Christmas period
Immigration Service Delivery has also announced that all those holding an Irish Residence Permit card that was valid at the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020, will now have its validity period extended to 15 January 2022. ISD state 'that they may use their current expired card to enable them to depart from and return to Ireland in confidence over Christmas and until 15 January 2022.'
Anyone travelling during this time will be able to print a copy of a travel confirmation notice (see link here) and display this with an existing IRP card to show proof of residence when returning to Ireland before the 15 January 2022.
Re-entry visa requirements for children under the age of 16 have also been suspended until 15 January 2022.
A return to FBR processing is welcomed after the lengthy hiatus over the previous 18 months. I have had a large volume of queries from many parts of the world seeking advices on securing citizenship for children and grand-children of Irish citizens. Hopefully the backlog which must surely have built up will clear and that new applications will be accepted again.
Improvements on citizenship requirements are also positive and should improve processes for all. The ability for those to travel this Christmas on expired IRP cards is announced at a time many residents in Ireland are considering travelling for the first time since the pandemic locked many parts of the world down. However many residents have expired IRP cards as they cannot obtain an online appointment to attend Burgh Quay and/or their IRP cards have not been processed and shipped to them. These issues require attention too.
Aaron Flynn Solicitors is a boutique practise specialising in immigration matters across many years and can be contacted here.