Still waiting for my citizenship

There’s a bunch of Irish Citizenship ceremonies going on in Killarney today, 26th November 2018. If it’s anything like recent times there’ll be thousands of new Irish citizens sworn in.

As for me, it’s now just over 8 months since I submitted my application for naturalisation, and I’m still waiting to hear back from INIS if I’ve been accepted or not.

Obviously I’ve missed this opportunity to attend a ceremony, and based on the usual scheduled the chances are there won’t be another one until April or May next year. And so, even if I do hear I’ve been accepted during that time, I won’t become a citizen until I can attend a ceremony – and by that time I’ll be over a year since application.

Hopefully this will be the last Presidential election I can’t vote in

This Friday, 26th October 2018, Irish citizens will go to the polls to vote for their next president and also on the 37th amendment to the constitution.

As a British citizen living in Ireland for the last 11½ years, I’m not eligible to vote in either. I can vote in the Irish general election, I can vote in European elections, and I can vote in local council elections. But only people who are citizens of Ireland (and who are resident in Ireland) are able to vote for the President and in referendums.

Hopefully, however, it’s going to be the last of the elections that I won’t be able to vote in. It’s about 7 months since I applied for my Irish citizenship, and I’m ever-hopeful that I’ll become naturalised and get my Irish passport (and the right to vote) within the coming months.

Since moving to live in Dublin in April 2007 there has been an average of one referendum per year. The one on Friday, about repealing the offence of blasphemy, will be the 12th referendum.  During this time the people have Ireland have voted on such important issues as the rights of children, same-sex marriage, and abortion. But also, they’ve voted on the European Treaty of Lisbon (twice), reducing the minimum age of the president, and judge’s pay.

There’s talk about other referendums possibly taking place next year to address topics such as an archaic reference in the constitution to “women in the home”, allowing Irish citizens living abroad to vote, and maybe even reducing the voting age to 16.

Hopefully, by then, I’ll also be able to have my voice heard in these matters!

Citizenship, the waiting game

I applied for my Irish citizenship back in March this year, just before St Patrick’s day, and now – over 6 months on – I’m still waiting.

The Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) website says that a simple application takes around 6 months to process, but from reading people’s stories on the Immigration Boards site it seems that some people are waiting for a year or two to hear back.

I had hoped that my application would be one of the simple ones. I’m a British citizen, married to an Irish citizen, and I’ve resided in Ireland for over 11 years, have never been in trouble with the law, and have worked consistently and paid my taxes over the time.

Updates on progress

The naturalisation process itself seems to be fairly opaque. Once your application is in, you don’t hear from INIS until your citizenship is confirmed – months or years later. And if you enquire about the progress along way, you are given a fairly generic response.

I emailed them 5 days ago to ask about my application, and this morning got this stock answer:

Your application is currently being processed with a view to establishing whether it meets the statutory conditions for the granting of naturalisation, such as good character and lawful residence, and will be submitted to the Minister for decision as expeditiously as possible.

At the moment to get any update you either need to send an email and wait, or you can phone them during fixed hours per week – Tuesdays and Thursday, 10.00am to 12.30pm – and I’ve read that it’s hard to get through on the phone.

It seems to me that it would be better if they had some kind of web portal, where naturalisation candidates could input their reference number and get a status update on the progress of their application. It would probably save a lot of time for the people currently answering emails and phone calls!

Next citizenship ceremony

The next citizenship ceremony has been announced to take place in Killarney on Monday 26th November 2018. That’s just under 8 weeks from now.

The invites for the ceremony go out about 4-5 weeks beforehand, so I only have a few weeks left to get my naturalisation approved (and also pay the €950 fee) to make it to this ceremony. At the moment it doesn’t look likely.

If I miss this ceremony then I’ll probably have to wait until April or May of next year, as they only have them a few times a year. On some occasions they have multiple ceremonies on the same day to deal with the 3,000 to 4,000 people getting their citizenship.

There’s an average of about 12,000 adults a year going along to these citizenship ceremonies (children getting citizenship don’t need to attend), and it would make more sense to me if they had them more regularly. My suggestion would be have ceremonies at different location around the country once per month, which would still mean welcoming 1,000 people at a time!

Latest news

The latest status of my application can be followed on my Irish Citizenship page.

Immigrants for Yes

On the 25th May 2018 the Irish citizens will be asked to vote on repealing the 8th amendment of the constitution to allow legislation to be created to legalise abortion.

A lot of the discussion ahead of the referendum has been about Irish women and men. But there is a significant portion of the population that has been left out of the debate, and are not allowed to vote in the referendum next week, but are none-the-less affected by its outcome.

According to census data for 2016 there are around 535,000 foreign nationals living in Ireland – that’s 11.6% of the population. These are people who work, make their lives, pay their taxes, contribute to society, send their children to school, and access health care of Ireland.

The average age of immigrants is lower than that of Irish citizens. Nearly half of non-Irish nationals are aged 25 and 42 (child-rearing years), in comparison to only a quarter of Irish nationals. And so the abortion issue disproportionately affects immigrants much more than Irish people.

And yet only Irish citizens are allowed to vote in the referendum.

Non-Irish nationals face the same crisis pregnancies as Irish women – but potentially face bigger problems accessing safe abortion services. They may not be as wealthy as Irish people, face language barriers, and may also be restricted from travelling to countries like the UK because of visa problems.

And so, for the one-in-ten that have no voice in the referendum, we call on the Irish citizens to vote YES for us. For yourselves. For all the people of Ireland.

Irish citizenship

I applied for my Irish citizenship today.

I had been thinking of going through the naturalization process for a number of years now. Although I was born in England, I have made Ireland my home for the last 11 years, and plan to stay here.

The process itself is a little daunting, as there's lots of documentation to gather, 15 pages of forms to fill in, and then there's the fee of over a thousand euros! But I suppose most things that are worth achieving require some effort.

The final process this morning was meeting with a solicitor to have some declarations witnessed and certified copies of official documents made. Then it was off to the post office to send my completed application.

By all accounts it should take around six months to process my application, and one of the complications is that I won't have access to my British passport for the next 6 weeks or so – so I can't travel anywhere.

And with any luck, I'll be attending a citizenship ceremony to swear allegiance to the Irish state some time in the autumn. And after that I can think of applying for an Irish passport.

Progress to date

I'll be keeping my Irish Citizenship page updated with my progress toward becoming Irish.

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