The Department of Justice and Equality announced this week that it will ease the registration renewal process of foreign national students in the greater Dublin area and will offer a legislative solution to a recent court ruling on citizenship eligibility requirements.

Key Points:

  • Student immigration registration. The Department announced this week that third level non-EEA students in the greater Dublin area will be able to renew their immigration registration online. The new system will be launched Aug. 26 and will allow students who previously registered with the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service, and who are continuing their studies, to submit their application, provide supporting documentation and pay the registration fee online. Applicants will then send their passport by post to INIS to complete registration. For now, the online renewal option will only be available for students in the greater Dublin area, though officials may consider expanding the online service in the future. Anyone outside the Dublin area will continue to be required to appear in person at the nearest Garda District Office to complete registration procedures.
  • Citizenship ruling. The Department said that Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan obtained Cabinet approval this week or proposed legislation to amend Ireland’s residence requirement for citizenship by naturalization. In a ruling earlier this month, Mr Justice Barrett interpreted Ireland’s current law strictly in concluding that citizenship applicants must spend every day in Ireland for the 12 months before an application is submitted. The legislation will be fast-tracked and is expected to be before the Houses of the Oireachtas in mid-September. Besides working on a legislative fix, the Department has appealed the ruling. The appeal is due to be heard on Oct. 8.

Analysis & Comments: The changes are positive developments for university students and citizenship applicants. The introduction of the new registration system for students is timed to coincide with the start of the school year, and could benefit as many as 8,000 people between September and November. It is also a potential opportunity for expansion of a similar scheme for other foreign national populations – such as those on employment permits. As for the citizenship ruling, officials said they do not believe the ruling has effect on people who have already obtained citizenship and encouraged those in the process of applying for citizenship to continue collecting any necessary proofs to support their applications.

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