Tuesday, 5 November 2019

Questions (361)

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

361. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of short stay C visa applications awaiting a decision; and the expected waiting period from submitting an application to the decision date. [45259/19]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

Decisions regarding the granting or refusal of short stay C visas, primarily tourist or visit visas, are made in a number of Visa Offices overseas, in the Immigration Service 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. As of 25 October 2019, the Dublin Visa Office was processing tourist/visit visa applications received in Dublin on 1 October 2019. Processing times for other Visa Offices overseas and for Embassies will vary but are generally between 3 and 6 weeks at this time, with many applications processed inside those timeframes, depending on travel dates.

I am informed that there has been an increase in the number of visa applications across most categories, in line with increased economic activity generally. Notwithstanding this, processing times are on a par with, and in many cases, are better than the same time last year.

The business target for processing 'short-stay C' visas is within eight weeks (current processing time in Dublin for most categories is within four weeks). However, the processing time at each office and location worldwide is determined by a number of factors such as the volume and complexity of applications, whether investigation is required or not, individual circumstances, peak application periods, 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.

It has not been possible in the time available to ascertain the number of applications awaiting a decision in every processing centre.

The Deputy can be assured that every effort is made to keep processing times to a minimum, and a number of measures have been put in place to deal with the increased demand for visas to come to Ireland. This has included the assignment of additional staff to deal with applications, and more generally the streamlining of visa processes where possible. The position in this regard is being kept under review.

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.

Question No. 362 answered with Question No. 292.