Wednesday, 28 November 2018

Questions (175)

Maureen O'Sullivan

Question:

175. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he is satisfied with the turnaround time on visa decisions; and if his attention has been drawn to the anxiety and stress the prolonged waiting times are having on applicants. [49797/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I am advised by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) of my Department that decisions regarding the grant or refusal of visas are made in a number of INIS Visa Offices overseas, the INIS Visa Office in Dublin, and at Embassies of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade which process certain visa applications under delegated sanction from my Department.

The processing times for visa decisions are published on the Visa pages of each Visa Office and Embassy website. The table underneath sets out the current processing dates (as of 27 November 2018) up to which applications received in the Dublin Visa Office have been processed.

Purpose of Visa Applications

Current Processing Date in the Dublin Visa Office

Visit

24 October

Business

24 October

Conference/Event

24 October

Join Family (under national legislation)

15 August

Join Family (EU Free Movement)

See note below

Study

24 October

Employment

24 October

Other*

24 October

*Includes training; exam; conference/event; performance/tournament; and sundry applications.

I am also advised by INIS that the visa service is currently experiencing an increase in the number of visa applications across most categories of people wishing to come to Ireland for a variety of purposes, and in line with increased economic activity generally. Not withstanding, processing times are on a par with, and in many cases have been significantly improved upon, those of the same time last year.

The processing time at each office and location worldwide is determined by a number of factors, such as the volumes and complexity of applications, whether investigation is required or not, individual circumstances, peak application periods (now coming off the busiest time of the year for visa applications generally), seasonal factors, and the resources available. While every effort is made to process applications as quickly as possible, processing times inevitably vary as a result.

In relation to applications under the Free Movement Directive (2004/38/EC), there had been an exponential increase from the second quarter of 2015 in the number of such applications. That gave rise to a caseload of around 10,500 applications which had to be assessed very carefully to ensure that any fraudulent applications or potential abuses of the Directive were detected and dealt with appropriately. Considerable progress has been made in that regard with the majority of these applications now processed.

The central concern in deciding on visa applications, as with all visa services worldwide, is to strike an appropriate balance between protecting the country's vital national interests by maintaining an effective immigration regime while at the same time facilitating travel for those who meet the criteria. Each visa application is therefore decided on its own merits taking all factors into account.