In the recent months, our office has received a substantial number of queries from clients who are ACCA trainee accountants and resident on Stamp 1 A status. The queries relate to whether their status is reckonable for the purposes of acquiring Irish citizenship by birth for their children, pursuant to the terms of the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 1956 (as amended by Section 4 of the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 2004). They also inquire as to whether their status is reckonable in respect of the Naturalization process, pursuant to of Section 14 of the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 1956.
The cases that have come to our attention include contradictory directions from GNIB, the Department of Justice and the Passport Office as to whether the applicant’s Stamp 1 A is reckonable or not. In a number of cases, the clients have received letters from GNIB indicating that their periods of Stamp 1 A are reckonable, while the Passport Office has regarded the same periods as not reckonable in respect of applications for passports for their children.
Each of these clients who have been refused passport for their children have instructed that they are aware of trainee accountant colleagues on Stamp 1 A status who have been issued passports for their children in similar circumstances. According to one client’s instructions, such a passport was issued on this basis within the recent months. They are understandably very frustrated over such inconsistant policies in respect of elibibility for Irish citizenship by birth.
Stamp 1 A is the designated stamp for trainee accountant. It is described on the INIS website as follows; “This person is permitted to remain in Ireland for the purpose of full time training with a named body until a specified date. Other employment is not allowed.”
An Information leaflet titled “General Information on Irish Citizenship”, as posted on the INIS website, explains the entitlement to citizenship by birth as follows;
“A person born in the island of Ireland after 1 January 2005 is entitled to Irish citizenship only if, during the four year period immediately preceding the person’s birth, one of the parents has been resident* in the island of Ireland for a period of not less than three years and neither parent was entitled to diplomatic immunity in the State”
A note in respect of residency is added as follows;
“certain residence is not reckonable, including unlawful residence, residence granted for the purpose of study and period where there was a provisional permission to reside granted pending determination of an asylum application ”
Further difficulties arise in respect of Stamp 1 A status in the Naturalization process. It is not clear stated in the recent Departmental Guidelines of July 2010 whether a stamp 1 A is reckonable or not for the purposes of Naturalization/ Citizenship by birth. We have noted that the new Citizenship Application Form indicates that stamp 1 A is not reckonable. However, the new reckonable residence calculator on the INIS website indicates stamp 1 A is reckonable in the calculation.
It appears from some letters we have seen from the GNIB that the status of trainee accountants on stamp 1 A is reckonable. While in other letters issued from the GNIB the trainee accounts have been registered on stamp 1 permission, as opposed to stamp 1 A. Thus, their residence on stamp 1 is reckonable residence. Sometimes, it seems that the GNIB have used the stamp 1 and stamp 1 A interchangeably.
We have sought clarification from the Citizenship Section of the Department of Justice, and I have been informed in writing that stamp 1 A is not reckonable. However, when we rang the Citizenship Section in July last to seek clarification on the point and we were informed that stamp 1 A is “definitely” reckonable for the purposes of Naturalization. We asked that this point be confirmed, and we subsequently received a further telephone call to confirm that Stamp 1 A was reckonable.
We have requested Citizenship Section to provide us with copies of the current and past Ministerial guidelines in respect of reckonable residence for the purposes of Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 2004. They have not yet been provided to us.
We have today again requested from the Minster provide us with a clear statement as to the current Departmental policy in respect of this issue.
We submit that residency permission under stamp 1 A is designed for trainee accountants, as opposed to students, and therefore evidenced by a variation of the Stamp 1 (worker permission) as opposed to stamp 2 (student permission). Furthermore, the conditions of the ACCA qualification process necessitate that the trainee obtains work experience.We submit that it is certainly arguable that Stamp 1 A should be properly regarded as reckonable. However, most importantly, we would argue that it is unacceptable for such unclear and contradictory policies, directions and decisions to continue between the relevant bodies in respect of a matter as fundamental as the eligibility of Irish citizenship.