118. Deputy Mick Barry asked the Minister for Justice her plans for the scheme to regularise undocumented persons; when the scheme will be opened; if she will consider broadening the scheme to ensure all time living in Ireland will count towards eligibility to the scheme; if she will consider changes to citizenship law to allow for time being undocumented to count towards the residency condition for eligibility for citizenship; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [51716/21]
Minister of State at the Department of Justice (Deputy James Browne): As the Deputy is aware, the Programme for Government contains a commitment to bring forward a regularisation scheme within 18 months of the formation of the Government, to create new pathways for long-term undocumented people and their dependents with due consideration of Ireland's European Union and Common Travel Area commitments.
Proposals for the draft scheme and the criteria to apply are being developed by my Department in line with this commitment. These are informed by research and consultation with key stakeholders and engagement with Government Departments as appropriate.
Following this engagement with stakeholders, my Department is now working to finalise the details for the scheme, including eligibility considerations and qualifying criteria, with a view to bringing a proposal to Government shortly to allow for the launch of the scheme before the end of this year.
In finalising a proposal, my Department is examining the implications of the principles underpinning this scheme for various groups who have spent extended periods in the country without an immigration permission to remain. It is not possible at this stage to confirm the details of the scheme until it has been finalised, considered and approved by the Government.
The aim of the scheme is to provide an opportunity to regularise those who have been living for many years in Ireland without a legal status in light of the uncertainty and vulnerability that this brings. Many adults and children are expected to benefit from this scheme, for example through increased career and educational opportunities and enabling those who qualify to get on the pathway to one day applying for Irish citizenship, if they so wish.
With regard to citizenship more generally, 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 accordance with the provisions of the Act.
While all legislation is kept under review, there are no plans at the moment to amend the applicable rules relating to undocumented periods of residency for applications for a certificate of naturalisation. However as noted above persons who are accepted under the undocumented scheme will in future be able to qualify for naturalisation.