Citizenship decision a relief for many, but we still need to reform immigration laws
Today’s decision by the Court of Appeal to overturn the controversial High Court ruling that people cannot leave the State at all in the year preceding their citizenship application is welcome, but provides a crucial opportunity for the Minister for Justice and Equality to properly reform our discretionary immigration laws, the Immigrant Council of Ireland said today.
In effect, today’s judgment means the previously existing discretion applied by the Minister for Justice and Equality to allow up to 6 weeks outside the State is reinstated.
Catherine Cosgrave, Managing Solicitor, Immigrant Council of Ireland, said, “While this judgment will be welcomed by anxious applicants, including our own clients and all those making the happy journey to Irish citizenship, today’s Court of Appeal judgment does not address the root problem. The Immigrant Council has long called for greater guidance to applicants on what it means to be legally resident and the type and length of absences allowed, e.g. for work, health, family life. A clearer and fairer legislative framework would be a massive help to our clients and everyone seeking to navigate the opaque immigration system.”
Colin Lenihan, Information and Support Services Coordinator, Immigrant Council of Ireland, said, “Since the original judgment was made, we’ve had more than 350 calls to the helpline relating to citizenship queries, with 150 specifically mentioning this ruling.
“While the advice from the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service has consistently been for prospective applicants not to change travel plans and to continue submitting citizenship applications as normal, it has been an incredibly stressful four months for those awaiting a decision. Making this application is a culmination of many years living and contributing to Irish society. It is a hugely significant process and additional uncertainties in an already highly discretionary process has a profound effect of people’s lives.”
Mr Lenihan added, “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.”
Notes for editors:
The Immigrant Council of Ireland runs an immigration information and support helpline. If you have any queries about your citizenship application, our helpline is open Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, 10am until 1pm: 01 674 0200 and also on Tuesday evenings from 7-9pm.
Contact: Pippa Woolnough, Communications and Advocacy Manager, Immigrant Council of Ireland, firstname.lastname@example.org, 085 864 0682