What is the change? Ireland’s Court of Appeal has overturned a ruling that strictly interpreted the “continuous residence” requirement for citizenship applicants.

What does the change mean? The appeals court upheld the government’s previous policy of allowing absences from Ireland for citizenship applicants of up to six weeks per year (and more in exceptional circumstances). The initial ruling said that in accordance with Irish law, applicants should be ineligible for spending even one day outside of Ireland in the 12-month period before lodging their applications.

  • Implementation time frame: Ongoing. The ruling was issued on Nov. 14.
  • Process affected: Citizenship by naturalization.
  • Who is affected: Foreign nationals applying for Irish citizenship by naturalization.
  • Next steps: Naturalization applicants are encouraged to review their overseas travel for the past 12 months. Absences of more than six weeks should be carefully analyzed before the application is filed.

Background: In a July High Court ruling, Mr. Justice Barrett interpreted Ireland’s “continuous residence” requirement strictly, concluding that citizenship applicants must spend every day in Ireland for the 12 months before an application is submitted. The case was appealed, and, in reversing the decision, the Court of Appeal said the High Court ruling was “unworkable” and “unduly rigid.” The court also said the government’s previous standard was reasonable and lawful. Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan said in a statement that the processing of citizenship applications has continued since the July ruling and that a citizenship ceremony will be scheduled for December.

Analysis & Comments: The ruling will ameliorate the significant uncertainty that the July ruling placed on the citizenship application process. Going forward, applicants will be eligible if they meet the previous “continuous residence” standard as well as other citizenship eligibility requirements.

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