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Irish Citizenship2022-06-17T13:21:45+00:00

Sinnott Solicitors are Ireland’s leading immigration law firm. We specialise in obtaining Irish Citizenship/ Naturalisation for many of our clients. This can be a complex process for those who are not familiar with the rules surrounding entitlements, but we are on hand to guide you through it.

Sinnott Solicitors can help you with your application and will carry out a full review of your circumstances in order to determine whether you are entitled to Irish Citizenship.

Citizenship / Naturalisation Rules

The rules governing Irish Citizenship are set out in the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Acts 1956 to 2004.

A person with 60 months of lawful reckonable residency in the State is entitled to apply for naturalisation/ citizenship provided that certain requirements are met. The time spent in the International Protection process (unless granted refugee status), on a student visa, and on some other immigration permissions is discounted for the purposes of citizenship reckonable residency.

You may be eligible to apply for Irish citizenship by naturalisation if you are living in the State (i.e. the 26 counties of the Republic of Ireland), or if you are living on the island of Ireland and married to an Irish citizen (S15A (1) Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 1956 as amended). 

You may also be eligible to apply for Irish citizenship if you are of Irish descent or have Irish associations * or have been resident abroad in the Irish public service or have been declared to be a refugee or stateless as defined by law.

In order to be granted a Certificate of Naturalisation, applicants must satisfy the following conditions:

  • Are of full age (aged 18 or over, or if aged under 18 you are married)

  • Meet the relevant conditions for residence

  • Intend to reside in the State or if you are spouse/civil partner of an Irish citizen intend to reside on the island of Ireland
  • Are of good character

  • Will attend a citizenship ceremony and make the declaration of fidelity

Irish Citizenship

Adults (including spouses of Irish nationals) apply using the Form 8 application form (CTZ3).

Criteria for applying as a dependant young adult.

A ‘dependant young adult‘ is someone who depends on their parents for accommodation and general living expenses.

You may apply for citizenship as a dependant young adult if you meet the eligibility requirements for an adult application and you:

  • Are aged 18-23 when you apply

  • Entered the State legally as part of a family unit

  • Are currently attending secondary school in the State, or you went directly from secondary school into third level education in the State

  • Are continuously dependent on your parents, you are not financially independent

Dependant young adults should apply using the Form 8 application form (CTZ3).

Minors (children)

Minors may also be eligible to apply for Irish citizenship/naturalisation.

Definition: A minor (child) is someone aged under 18 who is not married at the time of application. A child cannot make the application by themselves. The application must be made on their behalf by their parent, legal guardian or a person acting on the child’s behalf ‘in loco parentis’.

Minor children can apply under the following circumstances:

  • Where the minor child’s parent is a naturalised Irish citizen, and the child has resided in the Irish State for a minimum of three years. This application should be submitted on a Form 9.

  • Where the minor child is of Irish descent or related by blood, adoption or affinity to an Irish citizen (Irish associations). This application should be submitted on a Form 10 which has been completed by the child’s parent or legal guardian on behalf of the child.

  • Where the minor child was born in the State after the 31st of December 2005 but was not entitled to Irish citizenship at the time of birth. This application should be submitted on a Form 11 which has been completed by the child’s parent or legal guardian on behalf of the child. Both the child and their parent or legal guardian must have accumulated five years of lawful reckonable residence in the State prior to the birth of the child.

Foreign Birth Registration/ Irish Ancestry

You may be entitled to apply for Citizenship on the basis of your Irish Ancestry which is discussed in detail below.

Citizenship On The Basis Of An Irish Born Child/Parent Or Close Affinity

In relation to citizenship applications generally if you have an Irish Citizen Child you can apply for citizenship after three years of residency as you are related by blood or affinity to an Irish citizen. Persons can submit an application for citizenship in circumstances where they are the parent of an Irish citizen child or based on Irish associations by asking the Minister to exercise his discretion under s. 16(a) of the Citizenship Act to waive the residency condition contained in s. 15(1)(c) of the 1956 Act.

Citizenship Based On Marriage To An Irish Citizen

If an applicant is married to an Irish Citizen, the application can be made after three years of residency as opposed to five years.  The applicant must be married to the Irish citizen for a minimum of three years in order to apply. Persons who are married to an Irish citizen and residing in the North of Ireland can also apply. When being granted Irish citizenship, an applicant who is the spouse of an Irish citizen must declare an intention to continue to reside on the island of Ireland as opposed to the Irish State.

Citizenship Based on Refugee Status

If a person has been granted Refugee Status, they are entitled to apply for Irish citizenship after three years. A person does not need to have accrued three years of residence as a refugee in order to apply as the time starts from the date upon which they applied for international protection/refugee status. Holders of Subsidiary Protection are not granted this exemption and can only apply for citizenship after five years of reckonable residence (unless they are the spouse or parent of an Irish citizen).

Contact Sinnott Solicitors today if you have any questions regarding Irish Citizenship.

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How to apply for Irish citizenship /naturalisation as an adult

Applicants must complete and submit the specified application form relevant to their circumstances.

A list of the relevant application forms for citizenship applications is available on the Immigration Service Delivery Website here.

Adult applicants must submit their application using the Form 8 application form (CTZ3).

The Immigration Service Delivery (ISD) regularly update the application form. It is important to ensure that applications are submitted using the most up to date version of the application form otherwise it will not be accepted for processing. The most up to date application form is always available to download on the ISD website.

Applicants must sign the application form in front of a solicitor, notary public, peace commissioner or commissioner for oaths. It is important to ensure that the witnessing is carried out correctly for example the correct date of signing the application should be inserted, full contact details of the witness should be included, correct passport numbers and date of issue of passports should be included. Whilst these may seem like minor details, any small errors may result in the application being returned to the applicant, thereby delaying the application.

Passports and other documentation such as birth and marriage certificates must also be certified by the witness who signs the application form. Any of our solicitors based in Sinnott Solicitors Dublin and Cork can witness the application form and certify the required documentation.

Copies of documentation should be submitted in support of the application only. Where a document is not in English such as a birth certificate, a certified translated copy should be submitted as well as a copy of the original document.

Documentary evidence – Scorecard approach

Applicants must submit sufficient evidence to prove their identity, nationality and residence as part of the application. In January 2022, the Immigration Service Delivery introduced a Scorecard approach for the supporting documentation required to establish an applicant’s residence and identity. Each document is assigned a predetermined point value, for example 6 months consecutive bank statements is worth 50 points. A score of 150 points must be achieved for each year of residence. Full information on the Scorecard points system is available here.

Doctors who are employed in a HSE or Voluntary Hospital can submit a “Medical Practitioner Employment History Summary” as proof of residence.

Where a person does not reach the 150 points for each year, they will need to engage with the citizenship division in relation to the matter.

The following is an example of the documentation required for an adult citizenship application:

  • Completed Application Form 8.
  • The Statutory Application Fee of €175 in the form of a Banker’s Draft only, made payable to the Secretary General, Department of Justice and Equality.
  • Certified Full Colour Copy of current passport and any previous passports valid during periods of residence in the State.
  • Certified copy of original Birth Certificate.
  • Copy of current Irish Residence Permit.
  • A letter, on headed paper, from current employer showing the date of commencement of employment (if applicable).
  • Copies of three recent pay slips (dated within the previous 6 months).
  • Two colour passport photographs taken within 30 days of the date of application, signed and dated on the back by the witness who signs the Statutory Declaration.
  • Proofs of residence for each year of residence claimed. Proof of residence documentation is based on the scorecard approach above outlined.
  • Tax clearance certificate – https://www.irishimmigration.ie/etax-clearance/

  • Online Residency Calculator – this should be completed with details of each residence permission stamped on your passport, please see link: https://www.irishimmigration.ie/naturalisation-residency-calculator/

Reckonable Residence in the State

In order to ensure that you are eligible to apply for Irish Citizenship, you must ensure that you meet the Residence criteria. A person with 60 months of lawful reckonable residency in the State is entitled to apply for naturalisation/ citizenship. In the year before you apply, you must show that you have not been absent from the State for a period in excess of Six Weeks. Some exceptions to that rule may be entertained. For example if the absences were work related or family emergencies.  It is important that you outline in detail those absences and the reason for those absences in your application.

Exceptions to the general reckonable residency requirements occur in cases where a person is the spouse or legally registered civil partner of an Irish citizen, is a recognised Refugee under the 1951 Geneva Convention Relating to the Status of Refugee’s, a Stateless person under the 1954 UN Convention Relating to Stateless persons, has been resident abroad in the public service or related by blood, affinity, or adoption to an Irish citizen.  Generally in such cases the Minister for Justice  and Equality will waive the residency requirements from five years to three years. If applying based on marriage or civil partnership to an Irish national, lawful residency means residing on the island of Ireland ( North of Ireland or Republic of Ireland) .

Ensure that you have renewed your Permission to Remain Stamps on time

In order to make a successful Citizenship application, it is important to ensure that that you keep your residence permission renewed at all times with no gaps. You should allow plenty of time to facilitate the renewal of your immigration permission before it expires. Otherwise, if you delay, you may create a gap in your residence permissions thereby creating a scenario whereby your residence is not considered to be continuous residence for the purposes of your citizenship/ naturalisation application and will delay your application.

How to calculate your reckonable residence

Count backwards from the date that you intend to apply for citizenship. You must show that you have lived in the State legally for at least 1825 or 1826 days over the last 9 years. This includes:

  • 365 days immediately before the date that you apply (or 366 days if it includes 29 February)
  • Plus 1460 days in the 8 years before the period above (plus 1 day for years that include 29 February

On the residency calculator explained below,  enter the dates for each of the periods of permissions granted.

Online Residency Calculator and Non-EEA Nationals

Non-EEA Nationals must complete an online residency calculator when submitting their applications for citizenship.  The residency calculator is completed by entering the dates of an applicant’s registration stamps (or permission to remain letters in some circumstances) to prove that they are eligible, and this must be enclosed with the application.

EU nationals do not complete the online residency calculator.

Spouses of Irish citizens residing in the North of Ireland do not complete the online residency calculator.

Citizenship based upon Irish Associations

If you are of Irish associations, the Minister for Justice and Equality has absolute discretion to waive the conditions for naturalisation. Irish associations means being related by blood, affinity or adoption to an Irish citizen. The Minister is entitled to waive the normal requirements in certain circumstances. If a person is applying for Irish citizenship based on Irish associations and is not or has never resided in Ireland, then it is unlikely that they will be granted Irish citizenship unless there are some exceptional circumstances in their case.

Are you having issues with your citizenship application?
We can help, contact Sinnott Solicitors Today!

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Revocation of Irish citizenship / Naturalisation

Over the past number of years Sinnott Solicitors have seen a stark increase in cases where individuals who have been granted Irish Citizenship through naturalisation have received notifications of intention to revoke their citizenship by the Department of Justice. Whilst previously it was most uncommon for Certificates of Irish Naturalisation to be revoked it is certainly an issue which we have seen a lot more of in recent years.

Examples of situations where this may arise are where individuals obtained their Irish citizenship on foot of residency as the spouse of an EU national who later had their residency revoked, or situations where individuals had given false information in their applications for refugee status, subsidiary protection, leave to remain etc.

From the point of view of international protection or humanitarian leave to remain applications it is quite common where persons have come to Ireland and applied for immigration permission under the alias of being from a different country. An example of this would be an Albanian citizen applying as a Kosovan national or a Pakistan national applying as a national of Afghanistan.

Revocation of Irish citizenship is dealt with under Section 19 of the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 1956.

Section 19(1) states that the grounds upon which citizenship may be revoked are as follows:

  • That the issue of the certificate was procured by fraud, misrepresentation whether innocent or fraudulent, or concealment of material facts or circumstances, or
  • That the person to whom it was granted have, by any overt act, shown himself to have failed in his duty of fidelity to the nation and loyalty to the State, or
  • That (except in the case of a certificate of naturalisation which is issued to a person of Irish decent or association) the person to whom it is granted has been ordinarily resident outside Ireland (otherwise than in the public service) for a continuous period of seven ears and without reasonable excuse has not during that period registered annually in the prescribed manner his name and a declaration of his intention to retain Irish citizenship with an Irish diplomatic mission or consular office or with the Minister, or
  • That the person to who it is granted is also, under the law of the country at war with the State, a citizen of that country, or
  • That the person to whom it is granted has by any voluntary act other than marriage acquired another citizenship.

Under Section 19(2) the Minister for Justice before revoking a person’s citizenship is obliged to give intention of notice to revoke a Certificate of Naturalisation and must clearly set out the reasons for this intention.

Section 19(3) provides that if the person wishes they may request an inquiry before a Committee which is chaired by a person having judicial experience and that Committee then reports its findings to the Minister for Justice.

In the case of Damache v Minister for Justice [[2020] IESC 63], the Supreme Court found that Section 19 was unconstitutional.

The court found that as the Minister began the revocation process, appointed the committee to undertake the inquiry and made the final decision to confirm or revoke the statutory process, that it was contrary to fair procedures. It  granted declarations that Sections 19(2) and 19(3) be struck down in their entirety but found that it was not necessary to strike down section 19(1), which contains the ministerial power to revoke and the grounds for such revocation.

Paragraph 134 of the judgment states the following:

“….the issue with s. 19 comes from the fact that the process provided for does not provide the procedural safeguards required to meet the high standards of natural justice applicable to a person facing such severe consequences as are at issue in these proceedings. In particular, an individual facing the prospect of revocation of a Certificate of Naturalisation must be entitled to a process which provides minimum procedural safeguards including an independent and impartial decision-maker. In the circumstances, I have come to the conclusion that s.19 does not meet the high standards of natural justice required and is therefore invalid having regard to the provisions of the Constitution. For that reason, I would allow the appeal from the decision of the High Court.”

Following the declarations, new statutory provisions for the revocation of certificates of naturalisation need to be passed however this has yet to happen. Until it does, the Minister for Justice cannot exercise the statutory powers to revoke a certificate of naturalisation.

Another important case regarding the refusal/revocation of Irish citizenship is the case of UM (a minor) -v- The Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Passport Appeals officer David Barry [2020] ICEA 154. In this case the minor child was born in the State to Afghan national parents. The father was granted refugee status in 2006, whilst his mother came to Ireland in 2012 through family reunification and was later granted refugee status in 2015.

The fathers refugee status was revoked with effect from the 31st of August 2013 due to a previously fraudulent asylum claim in the UK. An Irish passport application was submitted on behalf of the child in February 2014 however the Minister for Foreign Affairs failed to accept that UM was an Irish Citizen and UM’s application for an Irish Passport was refused on that basis.

Stewart J in the High Court [2017] IEHC 741, held that residence procured in that way could not be deemed to be reckonable residence for the purposes of citizenship.

The Court of Appeal upheld the High Court’s finding and found that the revocation of the applicant’s fathers declaration of refugee status meant that the declaration was not ‘in force’ during the time he was physically present in the State and therefore his residence was not deemed reckonable for the purposes of his son’s citizenship application. The Court of Appeal relied on the principle that “fraud unravels everything” and no benefit could therefore flow from the father’s refugee status which should never have been granted.

The matter was further appealed to the Supreme Court who overturned the decisions of the High Court and Court of appeal on the 2nd  of June 2022.

The Supreme Court held as follows:

“On the face of it, it is difficult to argue with the conclusion of the Court of Appeal that a declaration of refugee status which is revoked in circumstances where the revocation took place because the applicant had provided false and misleading information would appear at first instance to give rise to a view that the declaration, being based on a false premise, was void ab initio. However, it seems to me that, in order to reach that conclusion, it is necessary to ignore the fact that the Minister has a discretion as to whether or not to revoke and is only required to do so when it is considered appropriate to do so. The giving of such a discretion to the Minister would have enabled the Minister in an appropriate case to consider the effect of a decision to revoke on those who would appear to have obtained derivative rights prior to revocation. Taking that language into consideration, together with the language used in s.5 of the 2004 Act, it seems to me that, while a declaration is in force, and until such time as it is revoked, it must be regarded as being valid. I simply cannot accept the view that the effect of revocation in such circumstances is to render the declaration void ab initio. In those circumstances, I would allow the appeal. “

The court also found that in the absence of clear language to the contrary, statutes could not retrospectively change the legal nature of past conduct. The revocation of refugee status took effect from the date of revocation and did not relate back to the facts leading to the revocation.

This decision is significant in circumstances where the court highlights the importance of taking account of derivative rights, such as those of children impacted by any decision to revoke refugee status.

If you have any concerns in relation to your Irish citizenship do not hesitate to contact our highly experienced team of immigration professionals on +353 1 406 2862 or .

Delay in processing Citizenship/Naturalisation Applications

Many of our clients are experiencing significant delays in having their applications processed by the Immigration Service Delivery. In some cases excessive delays of four years and more are experienced which causes significant distress to applicants and their families.

When a person satisfies the reckonable residency criteria to apply for Irish citizenship and is a suitable person to be granted a Certificate of Naturalisation, they are entitled to have the application dealt with in a reasonably expeditious timeframe.

The ISD website currently states that it takes 23 months for a straightforward application to be processed from the date that it is received to the date that a decision is made but the processing times can vary depending on the circumstances and we have seen many cases where it has taken far longer than this timeframe to process an application.

Judicial Review of Citizenship/Naturalisation Delay

In cases where a person has not received a decision from their citizenship application it may be possible to bring a Judicial Review against the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service in order to compel the Minister for Justice to issue a decision on their application.

Sinnott Solicitors Dublin and Cork have taken numerous Judicial Review applications to the High Court on behalf of clients that have experienced delays in the processing of their citizenship applications. The type of Judicial Review action which is taken in a citizenship delay case is called an application for an Order for Mandamus. This order when granted by the High Court, compels the Minister for Justice to issue a decision on a person’s citizenship application.

In order to institute High Court Proceedings to compel the Minister for Justice to deal with  a citizenship application, it must be established that there has been an unjustified delay which is tantamount to a refusal.

Factors the Court consider in Citizenship/Naturalisation delay cases

The factors that the Court will have regard to as per Judge Edwards in the KM case are the following:

  • The period of time
  • The complexity of the issues
  • The extent of any enquiries required
  • Any reasons given for the delay
  • Any prejudice

It is important to point out that it is not always appropriate to institute Judicial Review proceedings in all cases where there is a delay in the processing of an application. In a previous case of Sinnott Solicitors, the Minister for Justice relied on a Garda investigation into the Applicant’s marriage to justify the delay in making a decision on the Naturalisation/Citizenship application.  We were unaware of any reference to a Garda investigation prior to issuing those proceedings and the Applicant having made a Freedom of Information application to the ISD received his file which made no reference to a Garda investigation. The Minister for Justice in Naturalisation/Citizenship delay proceedings can however potentially say that the fact of a Garda investigation or the need to await foreign intelligence information or the like is causing the delay.  If the Minister for Justice is in a position to file an Affidavit pointing to anything that justifies the delay, then the Applicant could potentially have to accept those reasons depending on the circumstances. This is just an example of a situation where the Minister for Justice has grounds to argue that a delay is justified.

In general in a straight forward case, where there are no complications, the Minister for Justice is unable to defend proceedings in circumstances where there are no justifiable grounds for the delay in processing the application.

Costs of taking a Judicial Review Application for Naturalisation/Citizenship Delay Cases

In many of these cases, if an decision on the Naturalisation/Citizenship Application issues before the case is heard in the High Court, that generally would render the proceedings moot and the High Court would likely make no Order for costs.  In such a case, the Applicant would be responsible to pay their own costs for those proceedings but not the costs of the Minister for Justice.

There can be a risk in taking a Judicial Review case when there is a delay in the  processing of a Citizenship/Naturalisation application that the Minister for Justice would not issue a decision and would fully defend the proceedings and seek their costs.  This could arise if the delay is less than two years, or the Minister for Justice can provide justifiable reasons for the delay.

The issue of costs in relation to Citizenship/Naturalisation delay cases was considered in the case of Dana Salman .v. The Minister for Justice.  In that case, the Applicant challenged the Minister’s delay in dealing with the application.  The delay involved a period of three years and nine months.  The case subsequently concerned a hearing in order to determine the liability of costs of the Applicant.

Mr. Justice Kearns in the Supreme Court awarded the Applicant the costs on the basis that no reason had been furnished by the Minister for the delay and no system had been put in place to ensure the fair and expeditious processing of such applications.

What to do when you are experiencing excessive delay in getting a Citizenship/Naturalisation decision

Sinnott Solicitors Dublin and Cork receive daily reports from our clients of extremely lengthy delays in the processing their Citizenship/Naturalisation applications.  The first stage in the process in order to compel the Minister to make a decision is to assess the application and the circumstances of the Applicant fully.  We generally send a warning letter threatening court proceedings and giving the Minister for Justice an option to issue a decision within a reasonable period.  In the event that no decision issues, or no justification or reason is put forward for the delay, then the Applicant will have the option of taking judicial review proceedings before the High Court.

Sinnott Solicitors Dublin and Cork have had a lot of success with Judicial Review High Court litigation in the area of Irish Citizenship.  If you have experienced a considerable delay in having your citizenship application processed, then please do not hesitate to contact us for further advice and assistance.

We have had a lot of success in dealing with Judicial Review High Court litigation around the area of Citizenship. If you have experienced a considerable delay in having your citizenship application processed, please contact us as we may be in a position to get you a faster decision from the Irish Naturalisation & Immigration Service.

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What happens after the grant of citizenship

Sinnott Solicitors Dublin and Cork are always well represented at citizenship ceremonies due to the number of successful citizenship applications that we have submitted on behalf of our clients.  The grant of Irish citizenship is a privilege and the importance and value which it means to our newest citizens is not to be underestimated.

The conferral of Irish citizenship opens an abundance of doors. It allows individuals voices and opinions to be heard by enabling them to vote in referendums and presidential elections. It entitles persons to apply for and travel on Irish passports exposing them to travel opportunities which would previously have been impossible for many individuals originating from visa required countries. It gives people greater access to opportunities such as education when they do not have to pay crippling fees as international students. It entitles individuals to certain social supports which they previously may not have been able to access, and which may greatly improve their lives.

For many people it is the pride attached to the status of Irish citizenship which is most important to them in circumstances where Ireland is their home, they have committed themselves to the country and have sworn an oath of fidelity and loyalty to our great nation.

Passport Application

Once a person is granted their certificate of naturalisation, they often wonder what they should do next. We recommend anybody who has been granted a certificate of naturalisation to apply for their Irish passport as soon as possible, particularly if planning to travel.

Irish citizens can apply for first time passports and renewals online if they are resident in Ireland, Northern Ireland, Great Britain, the European Union, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway Switzerland. The online passport application process is the fastest way to apply for an Irish passport.

The following documentation should be submitted in support of a first-time passport application following the grant of Irish citizenship:

  • original naturalisation certificate,
  • passport from country of origin,
  • original long form birth certificate and marriage certificate if applicable,
  • certified copy photographic identification,
  • proof of name,
  • proof of address
  • application fee.

Register Your Vote

A persons voting rights in Ireland depend on their nationality. Irish citizens are permitted to vote at all elections and referendums. UK nationals can vote at Dáil elections, European and local elections. EU nationals can vote at European and local elections, whilst non-EU nationals can vote in local elections only.

A person must be listed on the Register of Electors to entitle them to vote. We would encourage all Irish residents to register to vote according to the above entitlements. In particular our newest Irish citizens, we would recommend that you register on the Register of Electors to ensure that you have full voting rights so that your voice and opinion is accounted for in all future elections and referendums. Application forms to register are available on www.cheacktheregister.ie, from local authorities, post offices and public libraries.

Residing Outside of Ireland After the Grant of Citizenship

When a person submits their application for Irish citizenship, they are asked if they intend to have their usual place of residence in Ireland following naturalisation and the answer to this is always yes. There are occasions where people’s circumstances change which results in them leaving Ireland, for example due to offers of employment or family circumstances.

Under the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 1956 as amended, the Minister for Justice has the power to revoke a certificate of naturalisation where an individual has been ordinarily resident outside of the State for seven years unless they have registered their intention to retain their Irish citizenship.

This is done by submitting a Form 5 (Form CTZ2) Declaration of Intention to retain Irish citizenship by a naturalised Irish citizen residing outside of Ireland.

We strongly advise all naturalised Irish citizens to file the Form 5 if ordinary resident outside of Ireland to ensure that no issues arise regarding their Irish citizenship in the future.

The Immigration team at Sinnott Solicitors has extensive experience in all Irish immigration matters. If you have any queries do not hesitate to contact our Immigration Department today on +353 1 406 2862 or .

Foreign Birth Registration / Ancestry and Irish Associations

OBTAIN IRISH CITIZENSHIP THROUGH YOUR IRISH ANCESTERY

Sinnott Solicitors Dublin and Cork deal with all types of Naturalisation and Citizenship applications. In recent years we have received thousands of queries from persons seeking to obtain Irish citizenship through descent and Irish ancestry. Sinnott Solicitors Dublin and Cork provides full advice and assistance to applicants who wish to register their birth through the Foreign Births Register in order to acquire Irish citizenship by descent.

DO YOU HAVE AN IRISH PARENT OR GRANDPARENT?

Hundreds of Thousands of  people  have Irish Grandparents and ancestry and if you are fortunate enough to be one of those people, you should use this golden opportunity to ensure that you claim your Irish citizenship by descent by registering on the Foreign Birth Register.

As there is often much confusion regarding the pathway of acquiring Irish citizenship by descent, we thought it would be helpful to outline the various application options for potential applicants as follows:

WERE YOU BORN OUTSIDE OF IRELAND TO IRISH PARENTS OR DO YOU HAVE IRISH GRANDPARENTS?

  • If you were born outside of Ireland to an Irish parent who was born on the island of Ireland, you are automatically an Irish citizen. You do not need to do anything to obtain your citizenship and you are fully entitled to apply for an Irish passport.
  • If you are born outside of Ireland to a parent who was also born outside of Ireland then you are entitled to Irish citizenship, but you have to register on the Foreign Births Register in order to become an Irish citizen.
  • If you were born outside of Ireland but have a grandparent who is an Irish citizen who was born on the island of Ireland, you are entitled to Irish citizenship but have to register on the Foreign Births Register to acquire Irish citizenship.
  • If both your grandparent(s) and parent(s) where born outside of Ireland you may be entitled to become an Irish citizen if you register with the Foreign Births Register. However, your parent that you derive Irish Citizenship from must have registered on the Foreign Birth Register before you were born.
  • If you had a parent who was an Irish citizen but was deceased at the time of your birth you are still entitled to Irish citizenship.
  • You also derive citizenship through an Irish parent whether or not your parents were married to each other at the time of your birth.
  • If you were born abroad and adopted to Irish parents, then you may be eligible to apply to register on the Foreign Birth Register.
  • If you are born abroad and your parent is a naturalised Irish citizen, then you are eligible to register on the Foreign Birth Register.

DO YOU HAVE IRISH CITIZEN PARENTS

If you were born in Ireland after the 1st of January 2005 and have parent(s) who are Irish citizens you are then also an Irish citizen.

FOREIGN BIRTHS REGISTER

The Department of Foreign Affairs maintains the Foreign Births Register where people who are eligible to become an Irish citizen apply for their Irish citizenship. If you are entitled to register, your Irish citizenship is effective from the date that you register, not from the date that you were born. 

HOW TO APPLY

Sinnott Solicitors Dublin and Cork can advise you on all aspects of making your claim for citizenship through Foreign Birth Registration. The application form (available here) to commence the application is completed online and the supporting documentation is then submitted to the Department of Foreign Affairs who will process the application.

Once the process is complete, you will be provided with a Foreign Birth Registration Certificate confirming your entry on the Irish Register of Foreign Births. You are an Irish citizen from the date of entry on the register and you can then apply for your Irish passport.

You cannot apply for an Irish passport until you are entered on the Foreign Birth Register.

CHILDREN OF FOREIGN NATIONAL PARENTS BORN IN IRELAND

A child who has a British parent, a parent who is entitled to live in Northern Ireland or the Irish State without restriction is entitled to Irish citizenship. A child born in Ireland to a parent granted refugee status is entitled to Irish citizenship as is a child who is born without the entitlement to citizenship to another country (stateless).

A child born of other foreign national parents (EU/EEA/Swiss and Non-EEA nationals)on the island of Ireland are not automatically entitled to Irish citizenship. Their parents must prove they have a genuine link to Ireland. This will be evidenced by living in Ireland for at least 3 years prior to the birth of the child.

Non-EEA nationals must prove that they have resided in Ireland for three years prior to the birth of the child on a valid immigration permission (e.g., Stamp 1, Stamp 4, Stamp 3,)

Once proven, their child will be entitled to Irish citizenship, and they can apply for an Irish passport for their child.

APPLYING FOR PASSPORT FOR AN IRISH BORN CHILD OF FOREIGN NATIONAL PARENTS

Residence in Ireland: Non-EEA nationals must provide evidence of residence. The passport application must include a letter listing their passport’s immigration stamps which detail their residence in Ireland and their Certificate of Registration.

EU citizens must submit evidence of residing in Ireland for the each of the three years prior to the birth. Examples of acceptable documentary evidence includes tax records, bank statements, utility bills, rental agreements, school letters etc.

Residence in Northern Ireland: Non-EEA nationals who have permission to live in the UK must apply to the Department of Justice and Equality for a certificate of nationality for their Irish born child. The letter of application must be accompanied by a completed declaration form C (pdf) together with 2 documents for each of the 3 years giving proof of address in Northern Ireland such as driving license and utility bills. When the certificate of Irish nationality for the child has been received by the parents, they may apply for an Irish passport for the child, using the certificate of nationality as proof of Irish citizenship.

ADVANTAGES OF BECOMING AN IRISH CITIZEN

  • You are an EU citizen.
  • You can move freely through the 27 EU Member States, 3 EEA states and Switzerland to live and work and travel.
  • Your children can become Irish Citizens and EU Citizens in future and will have all of the benefits of EU citizenship whether it be the freedom to travel, Education or the right to live and work throughout the EU.
  • You can secure your children’s future by ensuring that they gain access to Education throughout Europe in future without paying enormous University and Third level fees that would apply to non-EU Citizens.
  • Avoid the non-EU Citizen queues at airports throughout Europe.

IRISH CITIZENSHIP THROUGH YOUR OTHER IRISH ANCESTORS

Unless at least one parent or an Irish born grandparent was an Irish citizen at the time of your birth, you cannot claim Irish citizenship on the basis of extended previous ancestry (that is, ancestors other than your parents or grandparents). In addition, you cannot claim Irish citizenship on the basis that a relation such as a cousin, aunt or uncle was an Irish citizen if none of your parents or grandparents was an Irish citizen at the time of your birth.

Recent Trends on Citizenship by Descent /ancestry Applications

During our many years of applying for Foreign Birth Registration, we have dealt with many cases where there are complex circumstances which if not presented correctly to the DFA, may result in a negative decision. Examples of this arise when there are name changes with no legal documentation to support the change (it was not unusual for a person who emigrated to the UK or USA many years ago to randomly change their name to make it easier to pronounce), cases of adoption where a parent does not appear on a person’s birth certificate, cases where the clients are estranged from their parents and are therefore unable to get a copy of their parent’s passport or a copy of some form of identification for the parent to submit in support of the application for Foreign Birth Registration. These are just an example of the types of cases where there are complex issues where we have assisted client’s in successfully registering on the Foreign Births Register.

Absences from the State and Citizenship/ Naturalisation  

The last year spent in Ireland prior to the Citizenship Application must be unbroken residency. In the year before you apply, you must show that you have not been absent from the State for a period in excess of Six Weeks. Some exceptions to that rule may be entertained. For example if the absences were work related, or for a family emergency, or medical treatment. It is important that you outline in detail the absences and the reason for same in your application, submitting any relevant supporting documentation with the explanation.

If there is an absence of six weeks in any year that must be explained.  Sinnott Solicitors Dublin and Cork on behalf of our client Roderick Jones took a challenge to the six-week rule before the High Court and that case eventually made it way to the Court of Appeal.

The Six-week absence rule in Citizenship / Naturalisation cases explained

In November 2019, The Court of Appeal delivered judgment in the case of Roderick Jones v Minister for Justice and Equality. Mr. Jones was represented by Sinnott Solicitors Dublin and Cork. The decision is of exceptional public importance and provides a welcomed clarification on the law governing absences from the state for persons applying to be granted a Certificate of Naturalisation.

In July 2019 Mr Justice Max Barrett in the High Court ruled  that the discretionary practice of the Minister for Justice in allowing Applicants six weeks out of the country, for holiday or other reasons, and more time in exceptional circumstances, was not permitted by section 15.1.c of the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 1956 (as amended)and that that continuous residence required presence in the state uninterrupted by even a single night’s absence over the 365 days of the year.

The appeal was primarily concerned with the main finding of the High Court which was the continuous residence finding, and the construction of one of the statutory prerequisites to be established before an Applicant is eligible to be considered eligible to be granted a certificate of naturalisation pursuant to the Citizenship Acts, namely the first part of the condition specified in section 15(1)(c) of the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 1956 (as amended) which requires an Applicant to satisfy the Minister for Justice that they have had a period of one year’s continuous residence in the state immediately before the date of the application.

The appeal was heard before the President of the Court of Appeal, Mr Justice George Birmingham, Ms Justice Máire Whelan and Mr Justice Brian McGovern on the 8th of October 2019.

In a welcomed judgment, the Court of Appeal overturned the continuous residency finding of the High Court requiring a person’s physical presence in the state, allowing for no absences whatsoever, in the 365-day period prior to an application. The court also found that the policy of the Minister in allowing absences from the state for work, and other reasons, and more time in exceptional circumstances, was not a rigid or inflexible policy and that the policy was reasonable.

Continuous Residency Finding

Looking at the specific findings regarding the unbroken residence in the previous 365-day period, the Court of Appeal ruled as follows:

  • That the High Court judge erred in law in his interpretation of the term “continuous residence” provided in section 15(1)(c) of the 1956 Act. It found that the construction is unworkable, over unworkable, overly literal, unduly rigid and gives rise to an absurdity. “Continuous residence” within the meaning of the sub-section does not require uninterrupted presence in the State throughout the entirety of the relevant year nor does it impose a complete prohibition on extra-territorial travel as the High Court suggests.
  • That such an approach creates an anomaly which defeats one of the fundamental purposed of the legislation by introducing a significant obstacle to compliance with one of the conditions for eligibility to apply for naturalisation which most applicants would find impossible to meet.
  • The construction accorded to the relevant part of s. 15(1) (c) by the High Court have rise to a clear absurdity so as to engage s. 5(1)(b) of the Interpretation Act 2005, allowing an objective assessment of the “plain intention” of the provision.
  • The term “continuous residence” is wholly distinct and separate from the concept of “ordinary residence” or “residence” per se. The term of words ought to be construed harmoniously. The words “continuous residence” in the context in which they appear in s. 15(1)(c) (first part) do not impose an obligation on an applicant that he be wholly precluded from leaving the jurisdiction at any time during the relevant year.
  • The task of ascribing ordinary meaning to the words “continuous residence” requires that they be construed harmoniously. Contrary to the contentions advanced on behalf of the appellant to the effect that the Minister should merely have examined whether the appellant was continuously resident in the State for the previous year “in the sense of continuously having his home here and not being resident elsewhere” as meeting the test of “continuous residence” such an approach does not withstand scrutiny. The concepts of “residence” and “ordinary residence” are materially different from the concept of “continuous residence”. Such an approach would disproportionately elide the weight to be attached to “continuous” and render that word nugatory – a word which does not appear in the second part of s. 15(1) (c).
  • In ascertaining the plain intention of the Oireachtas for the purposes of section 5(1)(b) of the Interpretation Act 2005 with respect to the words “one year’s continuous residence” it is to be inferred that the legislature attached significant importance to physical presence within the State during the relevant year.

Six Weeks Policy

The court found that the Minister is permitted to operate the six weeks absence policy and ruled specifically as follows:

  • The Minister’s approach to the construction of “one year’s continuous residence” in the first part of s.15(1)(c) is to operate a clearly communicated practice or policy of allowing Applicants six weeks absence from the state, for work and other reasons, and more time in exceptional circumstances. An Applicant must otherwise generally be physically present in the State during the particular year and an application may be refused if there are significant absences.
  • The Minister has not adopted a rigid or inflexible policy in construing compliance with the first part of s.15(l)(c). It is apparent that the objective of the Minister is to adopt a purposive, reasonable and pragmatic approach to the operation of that part of the sub-section. It is to be inferred from the criteria referenced in the decision sought to be impugned that a reasonable level of absences in connection with an applicant’s employment or otherwise is not inconsistent with “continuous residence in the State” during the relevant one year.
  • The non-statutory rule or policy operated by the Minister whereby the requirement in the first part of s.15(1)(c) of “one year’s continuous residence in the State immediately before the date of his application” could not generally be satisfied in circumstances where the applicant is absent from the State for in excess of six weeks during the relevant year immediately prior to the application in the absence of wholly exceptional circumstances does not amount to a fettering of discretion. Neither does it amount to the imposition of an extra-statutory barrier to naturalisation nor is it unlawful.
  • The ministerial approach does not fetter discretion but rather facilitates flexibility, clarity and certainty in the operation of the first limb of the sub-section and assists applicants in establishing with certainty how the criterion of “one year’s continuous residence in the State” is to be satisfied for the purposes of eligibility to apply for a Certificate of Naturalisation. The approach is sensible and is within the terms of the legislation and is consonant with the public good having regard to the nature of the decision in question and in particular in circumstances where it pertains to what has been described in the jurisprudence as “the purely gratuitous conferring of a privilege in exercise of the sovereign authority of the State.

The court concluded that the approach taken in the case of the Applicant himself was “reasonable” and that the Minister for Justice was correct in finding that the Applicant did not satisfy the continuous residency requirement. They found the fact that most of the Applicants absences from the state were not work related was “material” and thereof the Ministers Policy is not unlawful.

If you have any queries on your application for Irish citizenship or wish to discuss any immigration matter, do not hesitate to contact the office of Sinnott Solicitors Dublin and Cork today on +35314062862 or info@sinnott.ie

If you have any queries on your application for Irish citizenship or wish to discuss any immigration matter, do not hesitate to contact the office of Sinnott Solicitors today.

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Refusal of Irish Citizenship Applications based on National Security Concerns

Minister for Justice and Equality announces the establishment of a Single Person Committee of Inquiry to review Irish Citizenship application refusals

The Minister for Justice and Equality Miss Helen McEntee announced on the 30th September 2020 that a new Single Person Committee of Inquiry has been established to review Irish citizenship application refusals where a person has been refused due to national security concerns.

Mr Justice John Hedigan, a retired and most respected Judge who sat on the High Court, Court of Appeal and European Court of Human Rights will serve as the single member of this committee.

From the 30th of September 2020, where an Applicant receives a negative decision with respect to their application for Irish citizenship, and the application is refused either in whole or in part, due to national security concerns, they may now seek disclosure of the information which the Minister for Justice relied upon in refusing the application.

An application for disclosure of the information must be submitted in writing to the member of the single person committee within three months of the decision to refuse their citizenship application.

The committee member will then consider the request and advise the Minister for Justice and Equality whether to:

  1. Disclose none of the information to the applicant.
  2. Provide partial disclosure of the information to the applicant.
  3. Provide full disclosure of the information to the applicant.

Where partial disclosure is recommended, the member must provide the Minister an indicative wording as to the “gist” of the information that might be shared.

The Minister will then consider the advises of the member but will retain the power to issue the final decision on disclosure.

Whilst we greatly welcome the introduction of a committee of enquiry we do have reservations with respect to whether it would have been more appropriate to establish a committee with a number of members as opposed to a single member committee.  The fact that the member is appointed by the Minister for Justice and reports to the Minister does we feel,  raise some questions with respect to independence. Notwithstanding this, we fully support the establishment of the committee and the fact that applicants who are refused their citizenship applications based on national security concerns will now receive due process in having the opportunity to seek disclosure of the information which has been relied upon by the Minister for Justice in refusing their application, is a significant development.

It is important to note that only applicants who have been refused Irish citizenship due to national security concerns can avail of this process. Applicants who have been refused for other reasons, such as previous criminal convictions, absences from the State or other reasons should seek legal advises to establish whether there are grounds to challenge any such refusal by way of judicial review, or any alternative options available to them.

Sinnott Solicitors in the News

‘Since I got the letter, it’s just silence’: Citizenship delays now a ‘disincentive’ for doctors to stay in Ireland

DOCTORS ARE WARNING that long delays in processing citizenship applications are acting as a disincentive for foreign-trained doctors to continue working in Ireland…

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