Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Questions (576, 577)

Andrew Doyle

Question:

576. Deputy Andrew Doyle asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the current waiting time for the processing of student visa applications for the purposes of studying here; his views on whether this waiting time is comparable and competitive with other nations competing for international students to come to study; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32151/13]

View answer

Andrew Doyle

Question:

577. Deputy Andrew Doyle asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the waiting period for the processing of student visa applications for the purposes of studying here in each month for the years 2009 to 2012 and to date in 2013; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32152/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 576 and 577 together.

I am advised by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) of my Department that dedicated overseas visa offices staffed by persons seconded from INIS to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade process the bulk of study visa applications. For example, in Turkey and Abu Dhabi the average waiting period is 1 to 2 weeks with a success rate of 93% and 88% respectively. Applications made in Beijing and London take on average 20 days to process with a success rate of 88% in Beijing.

I am advised that these processing times compare favourably with international standards. The issue here of course is balancing the need to maintain sensible immigration controls with the requirement to facilitate as quickly as possible bona fide applications. In the circumstances, a turn around time on decision making on these cases within a few weeks is not excessive and should be weighed against the fact that individual decisions are often life changing events for very many applicants.

The Deputy may wish to note that not all international students are visa required, many originating from within the EU. Visa applicants are advised to apply eight weeks before the intended date of travel, however, this advice is mainly precautionary. Although the processing time for dealing with visa applications can vary depending on the particular circumstances of each individual case and the level of investigation required, it would be quite rare for a straightforward visa application to take eight weeks to process. The timescales for study visas as outlined above demonstrates this.

Regarding the Deputy's request for the monthly breakdown of the processing times, I am advised by my officials in the Visa Division of my Department that compilation of the detailed information requested by the Deputy would involve a disproportionate amount of staff time and resources which could not be justified in the circumstances.

Question No. 578 answered with Question No. 541.