Justice Minister Defends Withholding of Citizenship Applications

Dómsmálaráðherra Ríkisstjórn Alþingi Jón Gunarsson

Receiving Icelandic citizenship through an act of Parliament should be the exception, but it appears to be the rule, Justice Minister Jón Gunnarsson argued in committee today. MPs have criticised the Minister and the Directorate of Immigration for refusing to hand over applications for citizenship that Alþingi, Iceland’s Parliament, was scheduled to process last December. Jón stated that those who apply for citizenship via Alþingi should not get to “jump the line” ahead of others, RÚV reports.

Along with the standard process of applying for citizenship through the Directorate of Immigration, Icelandic law permits Alþingi to grant citizenship by decree, which it normally does twice a year. Unlike the standard process, the Alþingi route is open to applicants who do not meet the conditions for the granting of Icelandic citizenship. Applicants who take this route must submit detailed arguments as to why Alþingi should grant them an exemption from these requirements.

Read More: Citizenship Applications Withheld from Parliament

In an address before the Judicial Affairs and Education Committee this morning, the Minister of Justice stressed that citizenship applications should be treated equally regardless of how they are submitted. He criticised that applications submitted through Alþingi “jump the line” ahead of others, asserting that there is nothing in Icelandic law that requires those applications to be processed first.

Jón stated that the processing time for citizenship applications (submitted through the standard process) had been shortened from 18 months to six, and authorities would work to process dozens of applications in the coming days.