522. Deputy Bríd Smith asked the Minister for Justice if she will clarify the steps a family (details supplied) need to take in order to receive or apply for citizenship; the steps expected of the family to retrieve their passports from Serbia, the state they fled; if she can offer any further advice; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [47811/21]


Minister of State at the Department of Justice (Deputy James Browne): The granting of Irish citizenship through naturalisation is governed by the provisions of the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 1956, as amended. All applications for a certificate of naturalisation are processed and assessed individually in line with the eligibility criteria set out under the Act. A determination on whether an applicant satisfies the statutory criteria attendant to naturalisation, can only be made after an application is received.
The Act requires that, any person, prior to making an application for naturalisation, has five years reckonable residence in the State, except for spouses of Irish nationals where the requirement is three years. In both cases, the final 12 months must be continuous residence in the State with up to six weeks absence currently allowed to facilitate foreign travel for business, family or holiday purposes. In June, when announcing the publication of the General Scheme of the Courts and Civil Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2021, I confirmed that the continuous residence requirement will be amended to allow for total absences of up to 70 days from the State in the year preceding the citizenship application being made. Up to a further 30 days may also be allowed where necessitated by exceptional circumstances.
All applicants for a certificate of naturalisation must supply original passports in support of their applications due to the requirement for applicants to firmly establish their identity. The requirement to supply original, in date and valid passports applies to all applicants. In rare circumstances, where an applicant cannot produce their current passport, the applicant will be required to provide a full explanation. This should, where possible, be supported by satisfactory evidence that they have attempted to obtain such documentation and correspondence from the relevant authorities or embassy responsible for the issuing of passports in their country and clearly stating the reason the documentation cannot be provided.
My Department will consider the explanation given and, if satisfied it is for reasons genuinely beyond the applicant’s control, may suggest alternative means to the person to assist them in establishing their identity and nationality.
It is open to any individual to lodge an application for citizenship if and when they are in a position to meet the statutory conditions as prescribed in the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 1956, as amended and pay the appropriate fees.