Written answers

Thursday, 10 September 2020

Department of Justice and Equality

Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service

Photo of Martin KennyMartin Kenny (Sligo-Leitrim, Sinn Fein)
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40. To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality her plans to address the backlog of applications for visas and work and residency permits with the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22989/20]

Photo of Helen McEnteeHelen McEntee (Meath East, Fine Gael)
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The Immigration Services Delivery (ISD) Division of my Department is currently processing approximately 15,000 applications that have been sent in by people seeking to renew their immigration registration.

Significant demand accumulated during the four months that the Registration Office was closed due to Covid-19. To assist in addressing this demand, a new online system for the renewal of Registrations in the Dublin area was developed and launched on 20 July, enabling applicants to safely engage with the Registration Office without the need to attend in person at Burgh Quay.

Since the launch of the new online renewal system, my Department has received over 22,000 applications from people who would otherwise have had to attend the Registration Office in person. The volume of applications, together with the reduced capacity of the Registration Office due to social distancing requirements, has resulted in longer than anticipated processing times. However, my officials have already completed approximately 7,000 of these cases.

My Department recognises the difficulties that delays may cause for applicants and it is providing additional resources to the Registration Office to increase its capacity to handle current demand. Where an applicant urgently needs their passport for travel or other such reasons, they should email the Registration Office at burghquayregoffice@justice.ie and set out the circumstances involved.

Similarly, it is the case that Irish Embassies and Visa Offices abroad would always have a large number of visa applicants’ passports on hand, while their visa applications are being processed. Normally if a person requires their passport back while their application is still being processed, they may contact the embassy or visa office that is processing their application to ask for the passport to be released to them. They must then make arrangements for it to be collected, and, if their application is approved, they would send it back to the embassy/visa office to have the visa added.

A limited resumption of visa services commenced from 22 June 2020. During this initial resumption phase, my Department is only accepting Long Stay “D” visa applications, including Study, as well as those identified under our current criteria as Emergency/Priority visas. It remains the position that we are not yet accepting any short stay visa applications, except for cases that fall under the Emergency/Priority criteria.

Applications for work permits are made to the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation.


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