Tuesday, 2 December 2008
Dáil Eireann Debate
266. Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of applications for citizenship being processed; the average time it takes to process an application for citizenship; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43362/08]
Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform (Deputy Dermot Ahern): There are currently 15,600 applications for naturalisation with the Citizenship Division of my Department that are still awaiting a decision. The number of applications which were made more than 18 months ago is 6,400 and of these 30% (1,900) are on hold awaiting a response from the applicant and 44% (2,800) are awaiting a response from other statutory bodies as part of the normal applications checking process.
Following the recent decentralisation of the Citizenship Division to Tipperary Town, substantial resources have been made available to it in order to reduce backlogs and provide a better quality service to all applicants. This has had a positive impact on processing times and the average time from application to decision for the generality of valid applications is now at 23 months. It is expected that this will progressively improve over the coming year and the Division is currently commencing further processing of applications received in mid 2007. A significant number of applications are initially found to be invalid for a variety of reasons and these are now being dealt with and returned to the applicant within a week. More complicated cases can at times take more than the current average while an element of straight forward cases are now being dealt with in less than that time scale.
The Deputy will appreciate that there is a limit to the reduction in the processing time that can be achieved as applications for naturalisation must be processed in a way which preserves the necessary checks and balances to ensure that it is not undervalued and is only given to persons who genuinely satisfy the necessary qualifying criteria.
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