The Immigrant Council of Ireland welcomes the announcement by Justice Minister Alan Shatter that he has taken steps to address the unjustifiable delays in processing citizenship applications. The Minister gave a commitment last week to cut processing times to six months, unless there are exceptional circumstances. The ICI’s research publication, “Living in Limbo: Migrants’ Experiences of Applying for Naturalisation Ireland” documented cases where migrants had waited almost five years for a decision on their application. Since the Minister’s announcement, we have been contacted by many migrants who have been waiting years for a decision, anxious to know when the changes will take effect.
In addition, the Minister has announced a pilot citizenship ceremony for successful applicants, in recognition of the importance and significance of the occasion. Migrants who have gone through the process of swearing their oath of fidelity in court have told the ICI how deflating the experience could be to have such a momentous occasion slotted into a court schedule between criminal cases.
The ICI has stated that it is delighted with the Minister’s announcement. However, they will continue to campaign for reforms of the citizenship process, especially for clearer and fairer rules, particularly in relation to the “good character” requirements and the impact of having accessed a social welfare payment.