On 15 November 2021, the Department of Justice announced a number of changes to “simplify and streamline the processing” of naturalisation applications. Further information was published on 31 December 2021. The following links provide detailed information on the changes introduced:
NEW APPLICATION FORM 8:
A New Form 8 is now available online: https://www.irishimmigration.ie/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/FORM-8-CTZ3-V-6.3.pdf
PASSPORTS: NO NEED TO SUBMIT ORIGINAL COPIES:
From 1 January 2022, new applicants for citizenship are no longer required 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. The colour copy must be witnessed by a solicitor and submitted with the application form.
SCORECARD APROACH TO ESTABLISH IDENTITY AND RECKONABLE RESIDENCE:
The Department further announced the introduction of a Scorecard approach, from January 2022, in relation to establishing an applicant’s identity and residency in the State. These changes are supposed to bring “added clarity” regarding what information applicants are required to provide.
The Scorecard to establish Identity and Reckonable Residence is available in this link (as an Excel spreadsheet only): https://www.irishimmigration.ie/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/2022-Scorecard-for-proofs-re-Identity-and-Residency.xlsx There are two Tabs at the bottom of the spreadsheet: one called “Poof of Identity” and another called “Proof of Residence”. In summary, the Screboard provides a list of documents acceptable to establish identity and residence, each of which is assigned a particular value in number of points.
In order to establish his identity, an applicant must submit documents from this list the combined point value of which amounts to 150. Similarly, in order that an applicant meets the reckonable residence required, an applicant must submit documents from the list provided, in respect of each year of reckonable residence claimed, the combined point value of which amounts also to 150 points.
DOCUMENTS TO ESTABLISH IDENTITY (150 Points Required)
According to the Proof of Identity Scorecard, the following documents will be accepted as proof of identity, with the corresponding points:
- Genuine Passport (Valid): 150 points
- Genuine Passport (Less Than 1 Year Out of Date): 75 points
- Genuine Passport (Less Thank 2 Years Out of Date): 50 points
- EU Residence Card (EU Regulation 2019/157): 75 points
- National ID Card: 50 points
- Certificate of Identity: 50 points
- Laissez passer / Red Cross / UNHCR IDs: 50 points
- IRP Card: 25 points
- PPS Number / Card: 25 points
- Driving Licence (with photo): 10 points
Where an applicant is not able to achieve 150 points “engagement with the Department will need to be entered into”. The applicant will have to forward all original documents available and a covering letter comprehensively setting out the steps taken to secure identity documents. The covering letter should be supported by documentary evidence as to the attempts made to secure the required documents. The documentary evidence would typically include, copies of emails and or letters to / from relevant third countries agencies and embassies, and proof of meetings with state officials.
If the Department still has doubts as to the person’s identity, additional proofs may be requested. The Department further states:
“Passports and other documents will undergo anti-fraud checks. Instances of suspected fraud will be referred to An Garda Síochána under S.29A of the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 1956. S29A makes it a criminal offence to provide false or misleading information during the course of your naturalisation application. The maximum punishments under the Act are a fine of up to €50,000 and / or imprisonment of up to 5 years.”
DOCUMENTS TO ESTABLISH RECKONABLE RESIDENCE IN THE STATE (150 Points Required)
Applicants are now also required to reach a score of 150 points in each of the years proof of residency required.
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.
For each reckonable year, it is necessary to submit at least one of the 3 following documents:
- P60 Cert / Employment Detail Summary: 75 points
- Department of Social Welfare Annual Statement 50 points
- 6-months’ Bank Statement, showing a minimum of 3 transactions (in Ireland): 50 points
If an applicant can provide these 3 documents for each reckonable year claimed, he or she will meet the 150 points required to establish residence.
If an applicant cannot provide the above 3 documents for each of the years of residency claimed, he or she will be able to submit one or more of the following additional documents:
- Mortgage statement: 50 points
- Rent Agreement 50 points
- 6-months’ Credit Card statements: 50 points
- School Letters (for Minors only): 100 points
- Third-Level Institution Attendance Record (for Adults): 25 points
- Doctor/Hospital Attendance Record:
- Spouses of Irish Nationals: 50 points
- Everybody else: 25 points
- Medical Practitioner Employment History Summary: 25 points
- Car Tax Proof of Payment: 25 points
- TV Licence: 25 points
- Electric / Gas Bill: 10 points
- Medical Insurance: 10 points
- Home / Car Insurance Bills: 10 points
- Dog / Fishing Licence: 10 points
The Department’s website states: “Failure to provide sufficient proofs of residence with the application will result in the application being considered ineligible.”
ISSUES AND QUESTIONS ARISING
- First, it is notable that Passports which are out of date for more than 2 years cannot be relied at all as proofs of identity.
- Second, the reason for allocating different points to a valid passport (150), a passport that is less than 1 year out of date (75) and a passport that is less than 2 years out of date (50) is not explained. A possible explanation might be to account for the possibility that the applicant may have ceased to be a national of the country that issued that particular passport. While the possibility that an applicant may have acquired a new nationality during the at least 5 (or 3) years during which he or she will have been resident in the State prior to applying for naturalisation cannot be completely excluded (for example, he may acquire a new nationality through marriage, become a citizen of his or her spouse’s country, and lose his original nationality in the process), in reality this scenario will arise in a very small number of cases.
- Third, the scorecard does not mention Travel Documents. It does mention “UNHCR identity documents” (50 points only), which it is to be assumed include a 1951 Convention Refugee Travel Document. But what about a Travel Document issued by Ireland to Refugees? And what about Travel Documents issued by Ireland to persons granted subsidiary protection status or permission to remain because they were unable to obtain a national passport?
- Fourth, the Scorecard appears to expect Refugees to submit either a current Passport, a Passport which has expired less than 2 years previously, or else a National ID / Certificate of Identity. Many refugees may not have and/or may be unable to obtain any of these documents, and they may only be able to submit an IRP (25 points), a PPS Number (25 points) and a driving licence (10 points), which will be insufficient to establish their identity. It would be surprising if refugees were refused naturalisation on the basis that they had failed to establish their identity after having had their identity accepted previously by the International Protection Office or the International Protection Appeals Tribunal in the course of their international protection application. It is difficult to understand why the Minister would question a refugee applicant’s identity in the course of a naturalisation application after having accepted it when granting him or her the Declaration of Refugee Status.