Citizenship applications- continuous residence requirement
On Friday 11 July, Justice Max Barrett made a judgment regarding the 'continuous residence' requirement in Section 15(1) of the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 1956.
The issue with ‘continuous residence’:
Although up until recently it was understood the Minister for Justice and Equality allowed for a period of 6 weeks absence or possibly longer in the 12 month period prior to a citizenship application. Justice Barrett held in his judgment last week the Minister doesn’t actually have discretion in this area- that continuous means unbroken and therefore no absence is legally allowed.
In making this conclusion, Justice Barrett found the “continuous residence” requirement puts an illogical burden on applicants. We live in a globalised society. Many people are required to travel internationally as part of their work. Many applicants will have family members in different countries whom they will naturally want to see during a 12 month period. And heaven forbid a close family member is unwell or passes.
What’s happening now?
The Minister has indicated his officials are prioritising the careful studying of the ruling, but our current advice is that it would be more prudent to hold off submitting your application until full clarification has been issued by the Department of Justice and Equality.
We are hoping they will apply a freeze on the issuing of negative decisions for applications submitted in good faith prior to this judgment.
The Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service has issued a statement on its home page advising people they don't need to change travel plans and continue collecting the requisite information and applying as usual.
UPDATE 25 July 2019
An appeal has been lodged against the judgment which is scheduled to be heard in October.
As the judgment made clear: the solution required is an urgent statutory amendment which takes into account modern, globalised living.
We believe the standards set out in relevant EU Directives, such as the Long-Term Residents or Citizenship Directives, could inform the amendment, as they recognise periods of absence often have good reason and should not always have an immediate bearing on citizenship applications.
Please contact us if you have any queries about your citizenship application. Our helpline is open Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, 10am until 1pm: 01 674 0200.