Wednesday, 13 May 2020
Department of Justice and Equality
Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service Remit
416. To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality if the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service has investigated or is investigating third party appropriation of residency renewal appointments in view of reports of zero appointments being available online over prolonged periods; if his attention has been drawn to the distress and uncertainty caused by delays to secure appointments online; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5189/20]
417. To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality the steps he is taking to cease third party appropriation of immigration appointments with the Burgh Quay registration office; if his attention has been drawn to the charging by third parties for such appointments of €15 and upwards; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5190/20]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 416 and 417 together.
MyDepartment is aware of the issues around the securing of appointments for Registration and having identified the problem, introduced a set of software fixes in mid-September 2018 designed to prevent such abuses of the system.
I can advise that the new measures have been successful to date in preventing the block booking of appointments by third party agents. However, I am aware that there are a number of third party agents providing appointment-booking services in return for payment on the basis that the person provides them with their personal details in advance. My Department has consistently advised people against providing their personal and sensitive data to unregulated and unknown third parties.
Our Registration Office in Burgh Quay has also introduced measures to enable re-registrations of online applications and by post for third level students and intends to expand this service to other groups.
A tendering process is also underway to develop and introduce a new appointment system for the Registration Office, which is being designed to prevent the block-booking of appointments.
Prior to the temporary closure of the Registration Office in Dublin arising from the Covid-19 related emergency actions taken by the Immigration Service to maintain the safety and health of our customers and staff, my Department was aware that some customers were currently experiencing difficulties in making registration appointments. Staff were working intensively to resolve this by maximising opening times including Saturdays and Sundays. However, as part of the Department’s emergency response to COVID-19, Burgh Quay and all local registration offices are currently closed until 20 May 2020. The requirement to register an immigration permission will not arise until Burgh Quay (and other registration offices) re-opens or alternative arrangements are put in place.
My Department is publishing regular updates on the impact of COVID-19 on immigration and international protection on the website of the Immigration Service Delivery, as follows:
A Frequently Asked Questions document is also published here and is also regularly updated.