Parliamentary parties have agreed to process 25 out of the 70 requests for Icelandic citizenship Parliament has received, Vísir reports. This was one of the last points of argument before Parliament can be closed for summer.
Minority parties the Social Democratic Alliance, the Pirate Party and the Reform Party were not satisfied with the way the government parties wanted to approach citizenship applications this year and were ready to postpone the closing of parliament until they had reached a decision.
The parties reached an agreement this week and agreed to process 25 of the 70 applications Parliament had received. The other 45 will be processed as soon as Parliament opens again in the autumn. The reason for the delay is a change in the Directorate of Immigrations’ procedures regarding the applications ordered by Minister of Justice Jón Gunnarsson.
Parliament needs to consult the Directorate of Immigrations’ application reviews when processing the applications but the Minister requested that the Directorate would not prioritise the applications for Parliament over others. When the delays of the Parliament applications became clear last spring the Directorate was criticised for an attempt to change the citizenship procedures but they revealed the process was changed on the request of the Minister of Justice. Following the debate, the Directorate was charged with turning in the application reviews to the Parliament but now, as Parliament is closing fur summer, only 25 out of 70have been turned in. As part of the agreement to delay processing 45 applications until autumn, the parties will form a committee this summer to figure out how best to handle this in the future. Usually, Parliament grants citizenships twice a year, just before Christmas break and the summer holidays.
Out of the 25 applications processed yesterday, 12 people were granted Icelandic citizenship. Among the lucky dozen is musician John Grant and refugee Uhunoma Osayomore. John has worked in Iceland for a long time while Uhunoma’s case made headlines last year when he was denied asylum by Icelandic authorities. Last year, another well-known musician who has worked in Iceland for a long time was granted citizenship through the same process when Damon Albarn became an Icelandic citizen.