I am advised by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) of my Department that, in addition to the Dublin Visa Office, visa applications are decided in Irish Embassies either by specialist visa officers seconded from INIS or by consular staff of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade under delegated sanction. Decisions are taken based on established and transparent criteria. Guidelines on the application process including details of the required supporting documentation can be found on the INIS website (www.inis.gov.ie).
Decisions may be made by staff at various levels depending on the type and complexity of the application. Visa officers are generally at the Clerical Officer level in the Dublin office and at the Executive Officer grade in offices abroad. Where a decision to refuse an application is made the application is generally referred to a more senior grade prior to the conclusion of the case. In most cases appeals are allowed within two months of the decision.
An appeal against a decision to refuse an application will be considered by a different officer than that which made the initial decision. The officer considering the appeal will generally be of a higher grade than the initial decision maker.
While no element of the decision making process is outsourced beyond my department or the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, both INIS and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade have arrangements in place with third party service providers in relation to frontline and administrative services which include the receipt of visa applications and supporting documents and the subsequent transmission of same to the relevant embassy for processing. This provides a customer focused service using a network of regional offices to negate the need for applicants to travel to Irish embassies. For example, there are 13 and 15 regional offices available in India and China respectively, significantly reducing travel times required in these countries. Four regional offices are available in Pakistan. These third parties have no role in the processing of a visa and all decisions on Irish visa applications are made by officials, either from my Department or from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
In the case of applications from the Country specified by the Deputy, these are forwarded by the service provider to the Irish Consulate in Country where the applications are recorded on the Automated Visa Application Transaction System and forwarded under diplomatic post to Dublin for decision. The Consulate may verify certain documents if requested by the deciding office but it plays no role in the decision of an application.
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.