Immigration lawyers warn ‘six-week rule’ is unconstitutional

Carol Sinnott

Immigration lawyers have warned the Department of Justice that a new policy disqualifying people from Irish citizenship if they have left the country for six or more weeks during the residency period may be unconstitutional.

The ‘six week rule’ was introduced in June 2016 and has not yet been challenged in the courts.

Carol Sinnott, principal at Dublin-based Sinnott Solicitors, told The Irish Times: “I think it is utterly unconstitutional. There is absolutely no legislative basis for the department to do this. It’s just something they have decided to do. I think it’s unconstitutional and it affects your right to earn a livelihood.”

Her firm has noticed an increase in citizenship refusals in recent months, particularly among people whose jobs involve travel.

Berkely Solicitors, immigration law specialists who are also based in Dublin, also believe the policy “is unlawful and has no basis in the legislation governing naturalisation and citizenship”.

It adds: “We would submit that the refusal of an application for naturalisation due to a period of absence of over six weeks a year as part of a holiday during reckonable residence is unlawful … an exercise of authority that the Minister of Justice and Equality does not have.”

Karen Berkeley said: “We have been working for years and years on these naturalisation cases. These decisions have only popped up in the last few months; I would say a maximum of six months ago.”

The Department of Justice will not comment on legal opinion.

Share icon
Share this article: