Thursday, 6 December 2018

Questions (128)

Bríd Smith

Question:

128. Deputy Bríd Smith asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his plans for extra resources to be deployed in the INIS and GNIB in view of delays facing migrants who need to apply for visas or for renewal of residency permits, and in further view of the exit of the United Kingdom from the EU and the added pressure this may place on the system in 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51300/18]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

In relation to the staffing of the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) of my Department, significant additional funding has been allocated to support increased staffing resources in that area over recent years. Expenditure on staffing of INIS amounted to €31.4m in 2016, rising to €35.7m in 2017. Expenditure is estimated at €39.5m for this year, while Budget 2019 includes an allocation of €43.7m. This increased investment clearly demonstrates the commitment of Government to maintaining a safe, secure and efficient immigration system, and to tackling processing delays where they exist within the system. This includes allocation of resources for processing of both visas and registration of immigration permissions. The allocation of resources to the Garda National Immigration Bureau (GNIB) is a matter for the Garda authorities.

INIS has also published a Service Improvement Plan for the 2018-2020 period which includes a commitment to a significant range of reforms which will improve the efficiency of the system while also improving the service provided to customers.

With regard to the UK exiting the EU, various contingency planning measures are underway in relation to immigration-related matters. The nature and extent of any possible future changes to policy or practice and their resource implications will obviously depend on the nature of any withdrawal agreement. However, I want to emphasise that there is firm commitment of both the Irish and UK Government, together with EU Member States and the EU Commission, that the existing arrangements in relation to the Common Travel Area will continue in the future, including the free movement of persons entitled to avail of it.