629. Deputy Holly Cairns asked the Minister for Justice if it is still the case that a refugee may not hold a national passport; the reason her Department requires refugees who apply for naturalisation to submit an affidavit stating the reason that they cannot supply a national passport; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [25511/21]
Minister of State at the Department of Justice (Deputy James Browne): All applicants for international protection must surrender their passports to the International Protection Office at the time of making their application. Applicants who are refused international protection have their passports returned to them at the time of refusal and people who are granted subsidiary protection have their passports returned at the time they are granted such protection.
Passports are not returned to those who have been given a refugee status declaration. People granted refugee status under section 55 of the International Protection Act 2015, are entitled to a 1951 UN Convention travel document, sometimes referred to as a refugee travel document, which is used in lieu of a passport to travel from and into the State.
Use by a refugee of a passport issued by her or his country of origin can be construed as continuing to avail of the protection of that country, thereby undermining the grounds on which refugee status was granted, and can potentially provide a basis for revocation of that status. Therefore, the passport is retained and, as I have indicated, refugees are entitled to a travel document for travel to or from the State.
In exceptional circumstances, a person can have their passport returned on a temporary basis if there is a demonstrable and well-founded reason for such return. For example, if it is required by a State or other organisation for the purpose of identity verification as a condition of service. Refugees must undertake to use them only for the purpose declared and to return them when the business for which they were required has been transacted.
The identity of all applicants for a certificate of naturalisation is of paramount importance and significant checks are carried out to ensure that there are no incidents of identity fraud.
If a refugee applying for naturalisation cannot produce their national passport, they are required to provide a full explanation stating the reasons the documentation cannot be provided. The Citizenship Division of the Immigration Services of my Department will consider the explanation given and, if satisfied it is for reasons genuinely beyond the applicant's control, will request a sworn affidavit.