Tuesday, 17 December 2019

Questions (247)

Seán Fleming

Question:

247. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the timescale for applications received for persons coming here from outside the EU that are seeking visa approval to work here in cases in which they have already received their work permit; the average timescale for applications concluded to date in 2019; if there has been a decrease in the processing time in recent months; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53217/19]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

Decisions regarding the granting or refusal of employment visas are made in a number of the Immigration Service Delivery Visa Offices overseas, the Immigration Service Delivery 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 10 December 2019, the Dublin Visa Office was processing employment visa applications received in Dublin on or before 20 November 2019. The comparable processing date in the Dublin Visa Office on 11 December 2018 was 28 November 2018. 

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 can also advise that the visa service is experiencing 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, better than the same time last year.

The business target for processing employment visas is within eight weeks.  While every effort is made to process applications as quickly as possible, processing times inevitably vary.  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. 

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.