Ireland finally lifted all Covid restrictions in January 2022, allowing the FBR office to official reopen. Pursuant to government mandate, the FBR office had to slowly bring employees back to the office over a period of several weeks. We believe the office has taken a few months to reorganize and regroup as most employees had been out of the office for almost two years. During this reopening period, FBR applications have been processed and approved, but at a slow rate.
The FBR office is currently approving applications submitted during the last week of January, and first week of February, 2020. This means that most applicants who submitted an FBR application in the last 28 months have yet to receive an approval or response to their FBR applications. We do not think this necessarily means that the processing time going forward will be more than 2 years. We believe, and hope, that Ireland is bringing in additional employees to help clear the backlog, and as a result, that the processing time will decrease going forward. However, we have not yet seen this kind of progress, likely because the office has taken so much time to reorganize after having been closed for so long.
Although the FBR office does not offer a way to provide applicants a status on their applications, we closely monitor the office's progress based on when our clients receive approval. Thus, we encourage our clients to reach out to us at any time for an update as to which applications the FBR office is approving at a given time. This helps manage an applicant's expectations regarding their application status and when they can expect to receive their citizenship. This provides some comfort which applicants might not otherwise receive from the FBR office while an FBR application is pending.
We will provide another update when it is available.
*Published June 1, 2022.
Ireland announced its reopening plan today after an increase in covid cases over the last 2 weeks. While some restrictions while be lifted as scheduled beginning Friday, October 22nd, it is not the full reopening of Ireland that was planned. The article below provides a good summary of the restrictions going forward.
What this means for the FBR Office - we aren't 100% sure, and we'll need to continue monitoring the situation. The announcement states that a return to the workplace will continue on a "phased and cautious basis." Surely, if nightclubs are reopening and weddings will have no capacity limits, Ireland must be planning a return of many FBR employees. However, it also depends on vaccine requirements and social distancing capabilities. Either way, we do anticipate more staff returning to the office beginning on Friday, October 22nd - it's just a question of the number of employees that will be allowed to return and how quickly they'll begin to clear the backlog of applications.
Again, we understand there are reports that no applications have been processed by the FBR office since March 2020. This is NOT true. We have been in communication with FBR representatives as they have approved many of our clients' FBR applications this year. However, the staffing in the office has been limited due to covid restrictions, and the office has not yet opened their phone or website chat lines because there aren't enough employees to field the many inquiries being made at this time.
For a summary of the restrictions being lifted in Ireland, go to: New reopening plan: No capacity limits on weddings, and nightclubs to reopen (irishtimes.com)
*Published October 19, 2021.
Good news! Ireland's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has reopened. This means that the office has resumed processing applications for FBR (citizenship) and for Irish passports. We have been advised that the offices are not yet operating with a full staff as the government is slowing lifting covid restrictions. But we are hopeful that covid numbers will remain low, and staff will continue to increase.
Due to the long closures during the covid shutdown, it is difficult to predict the current processing times for passport and FBR applications. We expect that passport applications will still be processed and approved within six months of submissions. FBR applications are expected to take about 18 months to process. As of June 2021, the FBR office was approving applications submitted by our office in about August/September 2019. Please keep in mind that as of June 2021, the FBR office was closed for almost 12 of the last 16 months, so there is a backlog.
If you are a current client, please feel free to reach out to us for an update periodically. We are tracking the timeline of when our clients' applications were submitted, and when they are approved. This will help us all manage our expectations.
We've had many inquiries as to whether there is an update to our potential challenge of Ireland's citizenship laws on behalf of great grandchildren. As a reminder, under the current laws, only grandchildren of folks born in Ireland are eligible to apply for Irish citizenship (registration on the Foreign Births Registry). Those with parents born in Ireland, are eligible to bypass the citizenship application and apply for an Irish passport. Those with a great grandparent born in Ireland are not eligible to apply for Irish citizenship unless his/her parent registered their own birth prior to the birth of the child (the great grandchild of the person born in Ireland) or prior to July 1, 1986. We had spoken with attorneys in Ireland regarding our argument that great grandchildren should be eligible to apply regardless of when his/her parent obtained citizenship.
Unfortunately, there has been no update regarding our potential challenge. As noted in the past, we have made efforts to obtain a full legal analysis by Irish attorneys evaluate the likelihood of succeeding on such a challenge, and to determine the process and cost of a challenge in a court in Dublin. Several of our clients are currently evaluating whether they'd like to engage in an agreement with the attorneys to procure the full legal opinion. We will continue to post any updates that become available. Please keep an eye on our website and Facebook page for updates.
In the meantime, we also continue our efforts to change the citizenship laws by engaging in discussions on this matter with Ireland's Department of Foreign Affairs. Ireland has been promoting a campaign to strengthen the ties between it and the U.S., and it is our position that allowing great grandchildren to apply for dual citizenship would enhance that bond. It is our belief and hope that the issue will be considered by Ireland's leaders after Brexit and its implications have been responded to and settled a bit.
This blog is intended to explain how our company, or anyone else, may use a genealogist's research in beginning the Irish citizenship application process. We essentially hope to warn folks that hiring a genealogist to trace your Irish roots may be unnecessary to this process.
Clients that come to us for help in beginning the Irish citizenship application process fall among a large spectrum in terms of the information they may have regarding their Irish heritage. On one end are the folks who know every detail about a grandparent's birth - date, location, father's name, mother's maiden name, and every detail of other life events. On the other end, we've had many clients who wish to apply through a grandmother, for example, but they do not even know their grandmother's maiden name. However, even with this limited information, we are able to find the grandmother's maiden name and other important information that will allow us to obtain the grandmother's Irish birth record and all other required records for an applicant's Irish citizenship application.
Somewhere along the spectrum is a category of folks who hired a genealogist, some for thousands of dollars, before coming to us. We cannot blame them. They were motivated to find out information about their heritage, and who better to navigate that process than a genealogist, right? Genealogists can be extremely help, and we have even enlisted the help of a few genealogists in finding certain information. But please note that genealogists are not obtaining actual certified records for you. Sometimes they may send you a register listing an ancestor's birth or marriage, and provide interesting pieces of information regarding the town where your ancestor lived or was born. They may even find the correct parents' names of your grandparent, or date and location of birth, which is helpful. However, if you are not sure of your grandparent's date or location of birth, or their parents' names, it's usually best to begin by obtaining other vital records that will list that information. Marriage and death records of a grandparent, while not always correct, serve as a better indicator of a grandparent's place of birth, approximate date of birth, and parents' names. It is often best to obtain another document that will give us information before moving forward in searching for a birth or baptismal record in Ireland.
This is true of folks who perform their own genealogy research on ancestry websites as well. We've had many, many clients come to us for help in obtaining a grandparent's Irish birth record. The information they have about the grandparent is based solely on information gathered from an ancestry website. For instance, they'll quickly find a Bridget Kelly born in County Mayo in 1896 and assume that is their grandmother. Then they give us that information (even when we caution against this practice) and we obtain the certified copy of Bridget Kelly's birth or baptismal record using that information. Once we have that record, we move forward in obtaining the other required records, which then makes it clear that we have the wrong Irish birth record! In this case, if we knew the client was not certain of his/her grandmother's birth details (approximate date, location, and parent's names), we would have obtained the grandmother's marriage or death record first so we could obtain that information, ensuring we were searching for the correct Irish birth or baptismal record.
This is the limitation we're referring to in using genealogists' research for this process. We rely more on the vital records because that is what the FBR office of Ireland's Department of Foreign Affairs will rely on in reviewing an applicant's citizenship application. Genealogists can be extremely helpful, but it is important to know the citizenship application process in using them!