Procedures discourage immigrants from becoming Irish citizens, study finds

Documentation requirements more onerous in Ireland than in all EU-15 countries except Italy and Greece

Minister for Justice Alan Shatter. ‘Access to Citizenship and its Impact on Immigrant Integration’ found that the Minister for Justice had absolute discretion in granting citizenship, which led to a lack of transparency of conditions and unequal treatment of applicants. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill

Minister for Justice Alan Shatter. ‘Access to Citizenship and its Impact on Immigrant Integration’ found that the Minister for Justice had absolute discretion in granting citizenship, which led to a lack of transparency of conditions and unequal treatment of applicants. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill

 


Long, discretionary and costly procedures discourage many eligible immigrants from becoming Irish citizens, a study examining how European states regulate citizenship has found.

Access to Citizenship and its Impact on Immigrant Integration found that, by 2008, just 13 per cent of foreign-born immigrants here had become Irish citizens compared to an average of 34 per cent in the EU-15 countries, the second lowest rate after Luxembourg.

The study found that documentation requirements were more onerous in Ireland than in all EU-15 countries except Italy and Greece. It also found that application costs, coupled with the additional fee for a naturalisation certificate, were higher here than in nearly all other European countries.

It also found that the Minister for Justice had absolute discretion in granting citizenship, which led to a lack of transparency of conditions and unequal treatment of applicants. Migrants who have been refused citizenship do not have access to a formal appeal system to challenge the decision and are not provided reasons for the refusal of applications.

Despite recent improvements in processing applications, not processing family applications jointly and “sub-optimal communication between departments and authorities” can cause severe delays too.

The Irish handbook was prepared by the Migration Policy Group, a Brussels-based think tank, in cooperation with the Immigrant Council of Ireland. The project was funded by the European Fund for the Integration of non-EU Immigrants.