How to Become an Irish Citizen
I recently had the very great honour of gaining my Irish Citizenship and going to the Irish Citizenship Ceremony on Monday, 27 November. Tá sé iontach ar fad! There were tears! The Department of Justice does an absolutely wonderful job of being both efficient and extremely touching and personal at the same time. Massive bualadh bos.
I have received multiple queries from people regarding what the process was like so I thought I'd write a bit on it. Note: all information is only valid as of Nov/Dec 2017. Immigration laws can and do change. Make sure you have the most current information available.
There are multiple ways to apply for Irish citizenship. I applied on the basis that I have lived in Ireland legally for over five years (naturalisation through "reckonable residence"). One may also apply through marriage if one is married to an Irish citizen and living in Ireland for the past three years. If your parents or grandparents were born in Ireland you may be entitled to Irish citizenship through descent, you will need to register your birth in the Foreign Births Register, a process which includes submitting your original birth cert and marriage cert, your parent's original birth cert and marriage cert and your grandparent's original birth cert, current copy of passport or original death certificate.
In regards to citizenship through naturalisation, in some ways I think it can be easier for non-EU/EEA citizens than for EU citizens as those of us who are non-EU are already in the GNIB system and it is easier to prove our "reckonable residence" due to the stamps in our passport and our GNIB cards. In addition to having over five years "reckonable residence", one is also required to have a public services card, to submit every address one has had for the past 9 years (in Ireland or abroad), to disclose any social welfare payments received in the last 3 years and why you received them, to provide three different proofs of residence (utility bills, bank statements, mortgage bill) for every year resident in the state, information on how you support yourself and other vital information on you and your family. You can find the current application for citizenship through naturalisation here.
If you are serious about applying for Irish Citizenship, the below links are absolutely essential.
The Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service is the source from which you will download your citizenship application and a great resource for all immigration and citizenship requirements. This website also will have information regarding when the next citizenship ceremony is scheduled.
Citizens Information is a state-run information site that is very user friendly, has wonderfully current information and answers many questions.
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade is very helpful if you are looking to take up Irish citizenship through descent.
For me, the entire process from application submission to citizenship ceremony took 12 months. Some of that time is down to when the next citizenship ceremony is scheduled. Note: if your application is successful you will be asked to submit your current, valid GNIB card. Which might have travel implications since one can only apply for their Irish passport after the citizenship ceremony has occurred. I made sure to have no travel planned until I can apply for my Irish passport (since from now on, that will be the official document to show I have a right to enter the state).
Other Important notes:
- If you are a non-EU/EEA citizen legally resident in Ireland, you really want to ensure there are no gaps in your GNIB cards. A gap could mean you were in the state illegally.
- Not specific to Ireland but if you are an immigrant and not a citizen of the country you live in, I would suggest keeping utility bills and other official documents going back 10 years, if possible. Because you never know when/if you may need those documents as proof of residence, etc.
- Time as a student does not count towards "reckonable residence" at all.
- Throughout the naturalisation process, we are reminded that citizenship is a privilege, not a right. All decisions, even if you meet all the requested criteria, are down to the Minister of Justice's discretion.
Sin é! If you have questions as to how the above relates to your personal circumstances, it may be well worth it to contact an immigration solicitor.
I suppose I'll have to change the name of this blog now from An Immigrants Tale to a Citizen's Journey. I am so grateful to be able to do that. Thank you, Ireland, and thank you, Dept of Justice.
Is mise le meas,