I can assure the Deputy that the primary consideration of the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) of my Department is to process applications for residence permits by family members of EU citizens exercising free movement rights in compliance with the requirements of Community law.
I am informed by INIS that there is a significant number of cases on hand arising from a sustained increase in applications since 2014. This has impacted on processing times which range from 3 to 12 months from date of receipt of application. There is, however, a small cohort of complex cases that are outside this timeframe.
INIS appreciates the impact of associated delays on the persons concerned and has taken a number of measures to address the backlog including the assignment of additional staff resources and the sanction of regular overtime. I am also advised that the resources available for these activities, and the accompanying operational and organisational structures are kept under ongoing review to ensure that resources are deployed as efficiently as possible.
Cognisance must also be given to wider policy issues and, in that regard, INIS has serious concerns that a significant number of applications are indicative of potential abuse of the Common Travel Area (CTA). The Deputy will appreciate that such concerns require us to have in place investigations and fair procedures. While INIS is committed to processing applications with the objective of achieving the highest possible level of efficiency for applicants, this must be balanced with safeguarding the integrity of the operation of the CTA and the State's immigration system.