Wednesday, 22 June 2022
Department of Justice and Equality
157. To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality if her attention has been drawn to the fact that non-European Union citizens must apply online for Irish Residence Permit cards and the process takes nine to ten weeks whereas pre-Covid this could be carried out in the Garda National Immigration Bureau Office in a matter of hours; if she will take steps to allow for in-person applications to resume; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32917/22]
158. To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality if she will establish a helpline through which non-EU citizens can receive updates on their Irish Residence Permit card applications; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32985/22]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 157 and 158 together.
My Department's Registration Office in Burgh Quay is responsible for registering immigration permissions for customers residing in the Dublin area only. First time registrations and renewals for customers outside of the Dublin area are processed by the Garda National Immigration Bureau (GNIB) through the Garda Station network. The allocation of appointments with GNIB is a matter for An Garda Síochána
Since the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020, nine temporary extension of immigration and international protection permissions were provided to 31 May 2022. These extensions were available to all persons required to register and allowed them the opportunity to renew their registration, either online with my Department if residing in Dublin, or nationally with their local immigration office.
Permissions were extended on the same terms and conditions as the permission already held. Any non-EEA national whose Irish Residence Permit (IRP) card had expired was allowed to rely on each of the published notices on my Department's website to prove their immigration permission was renewed in line with them.
These extensions were made in the context of an uncertain health and international travel situation to provide assistance and assurance to people who use our immigration services.
Now that those circumstances are returning to normal, it is important that we also return to a more normal way of doing business. This includes in relation to first-time registrations and renewals, and processes and procedures are in place to allow customers to do so.
At present, there are no plans to introduce a helpline as suggested by the Deputy. However, there is already a Helpdesk system in place where Dublin based customers experiencing difficulties or who have urgent requirements can email my Department at email@example.com. This is staffed by the Registration Office customer service team, who are available to support and process their requests.
Customers residing elsewhere should contact their local Garda Immigration office for supports and advice.
My Department has undertaken a number of measures in order to support all applicants through the registration process with detailed guidance notes and videos, in several languages, available on my Department's immigration website (www.irishimmigration.ie).
Since July 2020, Dublin based customers who are seeking to renew their permission and receive a new IRP card can do so fully online at: inisonline.jahs.ie/user/login. Since its introduction, more than 138,000 renewal applications have been completed. Customers can now apply up to 12 weeks in advance of their current permission’s expiration date and I have significantly increased staff capacity to process the applications on hand due to high demand.
As part of my Department’s ongoing work to meet the current unprecedented demand for first-time registration appointments, on 10 January 2022, a Freephone service (1800 741 741) was introduced for customers. The current operating hours are 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday and all appointments for Dublin based customers to register their immigration permission for the first time are now issued through this service. Operators offer one appointment per call, unless it is for an identifiable family group.
To date the service has provided 27,428 appointments with a further 7,499 appointments booked to early August and applications are currently being processed on a seven days a week basis.
My Department and in particular staff of our frontline immigration services are doing all that we can to continue to provide a quality service to our customers during this period of unprecedented demand. The situation will continue to be monitored, in the weeks and months ahead in order to maintain and further improve on service delivery to our customers.