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.

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.

Some thoughts on Irish Citizenship for a British person

As a British person living in Ireland, I am afforded all the “freedom of movement” rights of EU citizens to work and live wherever I want in Europe.

I am free to reside and work in Ireland, and can travel without restriction in and out of the country. I don’t need to apply for visas or work permits, unlike non-EU migrants. And as such, I’m treated pretty-much as if I was an Irish citizen.

The freedoms are so universal that it’s hard to come up with many tangible differences between being an Irish or EU citizen. Here’s the only restrictions I can find:

  • I’m not allowed to vote in Presidential elections
  • I’m not allowed to vote in any referendum votes
  • I can’t stand as Irish President, or become a member of the Dáil or Seanad

I place quite a lot of value on the voting rights – as I’ve missed out on numerous referendums since moving here – and I feel a bit disenfranchised by not being able to vote on constitutional changes that will have a direct effect upon my life.

But are the voting rights on their own worth the €1,125 naturalisation fees, and the 6 months of bureaucracy and paperwork?

Personal Experience

For the last couple of years I’ve been pondering the idea becoming an Irish citizen. I’ve been living here over 8 years, my wife is Irish, and Ireland looks like it’ll be my home for the foreseeable future. I have deepening roots in this country, and yet sometimes I still feel like a foreigner.

I don’t know if citizenship will help me feel more Irish. I guess my British accent will always set me apart from those who grew up in Ireland. But maybe an Irish passport will help me feel less of an outsider.

Any maybe how I “feel” is what it all comes down to. With few tangible benefits, the major driving force to go for naturalisation would be to feel more at home.

The Numbers

I was hunting around the web for some statistics about the number of British people that apply to Irish naturalisation, but couldn’t find any breakdown of naturalisation by country. The naturalisation numbers just don’t appear to be published anywhere, which seems strange.

There are loads of figures about immigration , and the census breaks down the population by country of origin. Indeed, the last census recorded 390,000 EU nationals resident in Ireland, which amounts to about 8% of the population.  But I suspect that the number of those people applying for Irish citizenship is tiny.

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