Thursday, 2 May 2013

Questions (9)

Barry Cowen

Question:

9. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the total number of visas issued by his Department in 2011, 2012 and to date in 2013; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20762/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

The total number of entry visas granted in 2011 and 2012 was around 74,700 and 79,300 respectively. This compares with about 65,700 and 70,300 in the preceding two years and represents an increase of almost 21% in that time. In addition, my Department also issued 53,480 re-entry visas in 2011 and 44,073 in 2012. Re-entry visas are issued to visa-required nationals who are legally resident in the State.

In the period in question, the overall approval rate for visa applications was in excess of 91% which compares favourably with other EU member states. Provisional figures for the first three months of 2013 indicate that around 16,100 entry visas were granted and 8,700 re-entry visas.

I would remind the Deputy that since coming into office I have introduced the State's first ever Visa Waiver Programme whereby citizens of seventeen designated countries can travel on to Ireland from the UK without the need for an Irish visa and citizens of those countries who are long-term residents in the UK or the Schengen area can obtain an Irish visa without charge. This initiative has been welcomed by both tourism promotion agencies and operators and has been a significant success with trips from the designated countries increasing by 21% in the twelve months after its introduction in July 2011.