Belfast Telegraph

Belfast mum faces deportation to US - Queen's student Megan Crowley in plea for Irish citizenship

A Belfast-based mother faces being split from her children over delays in the granting of her Irish citizenship.

Megan Crowley, a US citizen who has lived in Northern Ireland's capital for 10 years, is married to Irish citizen Richard Crowley.

Speaking to TheJournal.ie, Mrs Crowley said she had assumed the application process would take six months because it was a "straightforward case".

"I well surpass any requirements for Irish citizenship," she said.

Mrs Crowley - who is a student at Queen's University - received an email before Christmas confirming her citizenship application had been approved, but was then asked for proof of permission to remain in the UK.

Complications around Mrs Crowley's application arose from proving legal status to remain in the United Kingdom with her temporary visa expiring in December 2017. 

She had been in the process of renewing her visa to maintain her legal status for the United Kingdom, but had to withdraw her application when her father became sick and she required her passport to travel.

She could face a wait of months before receiving another temporary visa for the United Kingdom.

As it stands, Mrs Crowley plans to leave Northern Ireland for the United States in less than a month's time, and does not know if she will be able to return to Belfast in August.

Megan has launched a social media campaign, and called on Irish justice minister Charlie Flanagan to intervene in her case, saying he has the discretion to allow her to remain in the country.

Writing on Twitter, Mrs Crowley said: "Separating Irish children from their mother, an Irish man from his wife of 12 years is simply unacceptable. Children need to stay with both their parents. I have never broken any laws, I am just a mother who wants to be with her family."

The first citizenship ceremony of the year was held in Killarney on May 21, where 3,500 people from more than 120 countries received Irish citizenship.

On the day of the ceremony Megan Crowley visited the Dáil to raise her concern with members of the Irish senate.

A spokesperson for the Irish Department of Justice and Equality said: "The Department of Justice and Equality does not generally comment on individual cases but irrespective of the jurisdiction from which an applicant applies, the Minister cannot consider such an application unless the appropriate permission to remain is in force and we have evidence of same."

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