Category: Archive

New rules loom for Irish citizenship hopefuls

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Ray O’Hanlon

American or other non-Irish spouses of Irish citizens will, a few years from now, have to live in Ireland for a time if they want to obtain Irish citizenship.

Changes contained in the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act of

2001 will not, however, drastically affect existing Irish citizens and their non-citizen spouses for several years.

But a current non-citizen planning to obtain Irish citizenship through a grandparent, and who is then hoping to pass Irish citizenship on to a non-citizen spouse, will have to get his or her application in order before the end of November this year.

Under current Irish law, U.S. citizens who meet the rules for Irish citizenship can apply as a result of having an Irish-born grandparent.

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The other main route to obtaining an Irish passport is by means of a postnuptial declaration after three years of marriage to a person who has been an Irish citizen for three years.

Also under current Irish law, such applications can be processed in the U.S. by the Irish embassy or various Irish consular offices without the applicant having to move to Ireland.

That rule is going to change. Irish law is being brought into line with the European Union norm. The result will eventually be a residency requirement.

The formal change to current practice will come into effect on Nov. 30, 2002. But there will be a grace period after that date during which the old rule will apply for individuals who are already Irish citizens and who are married to a non-citizen spouse.

This grace, or transitional period, is set to last for three years, from Nov. 30 of this year until Nov. 30, 2005.

But from Nov. 30, 2005, it will no longer be possible to become an Irish citizen by simply lodging a postnuptial declaration at the Irish embassy or a consulate.

Instead, it will be necessary to apply to the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform in Ireland for a certificate of naturalization based on marriage to an Irish citizen.

The application will also be contingent on the applicant having been a resident of Ireland for three out of the previous five years. And the immediate 12 months prior to application will have to be spent in Ireland.

During the 2002-05 transitional period, a non-Irish national will be able to claim Irish citizenship through marriage if: he/she is married to an Irish citizen, or by Nov. 30, 2002 is married to a person who will be an Irish citizen by that date, or makes a post-nuptial declaration at least three years after the date of the marriage, and before Nov. 30 2005, and lodges it at the Irish embassy or consulate.

According to an Irish government statement, these changes have particular relevance for non-Irish citizens who are eligible for Irish citizenship and who are married to, or who intend to marry, non-Irish nationals prior to Nov. 30, 2002.

In order for spouses to be eligible to apply for post nuptial citizenship in the transitional period, those intending to apply for Irish citizenship through an Irish born grandparent must have their applications approved and registered at the Irish embassy in Washington D.C., or a consulate in either New York, Boston, Chicago or San Francisco, by Nov. 29, 2002.

Such applicants for citizenship — the method they use is known as Foreign Births Registration, or FBR — are being strongly advised to immediately submit their applications, including all of the required documents and certificates, so that they are registered by the Nov. 29 deadline.

If documentation is still outstanding on Nov. 30, 2002, it will not be possible for the non-national spouse to avail of the transitional period to claim Irish citizenship simply through marriage.

The actual requirements for citizenship on the basis of entry in the Foreign Births Register, meanwhile, remain unchanged.

It should be noted that anyone born in Ireland, or who has at least one Irish citizen parent, is automatically an Irish citizen.

Information on the new rules is available from the Irish embassy at www.irelandemb.org or by calling (202) 462-3939.

The Irish Consulate in New York can be contacted at (212) 319-2557, Boston’s number is (617) 267-9330, Chicago’s is (312) 337-1868, and San Francisco’s is (415) 392-4214.

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