Wednesday, 1 April 2015
Department of Justice and Equality
Student Visas Numbers
95. To ask the Minister for Justice and Equality the arrangements in place to ensure that visas awarded to foreign students are for bona fides purposes and not merely a way of bypasing the immigration law. [13570/15]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 93 to 95, inclusive, together.
The number of non-EEA nationals registered as per the latest snapshot of the Garda National Immigration Bureau registration system taken in February 2015 who have permission to remain in Ireland as students (on immigration permission stamp No. 2) is approximately 35,400. This figure does not include non-EEA students who are in the State to engage in studies for a period of less than 3 months or who have permission to remain in the State in a different category (for example as a dependant of an Irish or EEA national).
The main countries of origin for the persons concerned are the following: Brazil 30%, China 9%, USA 8%, India 7%, Malaysia 6%, Saudi Arabia 5%, Venezuela 4%.
It is not possible to provide visas statistics for each of the past ten years. Prior to the introduction of a new computerised visa system by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) of my Department in 2008 and rolled out to Irish Missions and Visa Office worldwide throughout 2008 and 2009, only limited statistical information was recorded, often manually, at individual offices. However I am advised by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service that the statistics set out below are available.
Irish Study Visa Applications Outcomes
|Year||Net Granted||Net Refused||Total|
It should be noted that nationals from many countries including for example Brazil, USA do not require a visa to come and study in Ireland. For nationals requiring a visa, in line with other jursidictions my Department operates a visa system which examines the bona fides of each study visa application. The requirements and procedures that are in place are designed to ensure that potential abuses of the study visa system are minimised, whilst also affording visa required non-EEA nationals with every opportunity to come and study in Ireland. Whilst the requirements are rigorous they are also fair.
In common with other jurisdictions the non-EEA student immigration system has suffered abuses. This became especially apparent last year through inspections by my Department and media revelations where colleges (many of which are now closed and one which is currently suspended) and in some cases students were effectively circumventing the rules which apply to non-EEA nationals studying in Ireland. In that regard I remain fully committed to delivering on the Government's regulatory reforms programme in this area which I announced in September 2014 in conjunction with my colleague the Minister for Education and Skills. These reforms provide the necessary regulatory framework through which abuses of the student immigration system can be curtailed to the benefit of bona fide students and colleges alike. The Government is committed to maintaining Ireland's reputation as a high quality destination for international students and will continue to implement all necessary reforms to protect that reputation.
Work is at an advanced stage in implementing these reforms taking into account a high court judgement in respect of that part of the reform programme relating to English language courses, and I expect that full details will be available shortly.