I can inform the deputy that new applicants arriving today at the International Protection Office (IPO), who complete their questionnaire, are now being scheduled for interview as follows:
- for prioritised applications, within 5 months of application; and
- for non-prioritised applications, within 8 to 10 months.
Prioritised applications include those from refugee generating countries, such as Syria and Eritrea and from especially vulnerable groups of applicants, such as unaccompanied minors.
The IPO target is to issue its recommendation within 8 weeks after the interview. This is, however, dependent on the complexity of the relevant case. The overall median processing time for applications processed under the International Protection Act 2015 to end August 2019 is 15.7 months with prioritised cases being processed in 8.7 months.
At the end August 2019, there were 1,143 applicants waiting to have their interviews scheduled. This figure must be viewed in the context of large numbers of new applicants entering the system. There have been 3,096 applications for international protection made in the period from January 2019 to end of August 2019, which is a 36% increase on the 2,276 applications made in the same period in 2018. When relocation applications under the Irish Refugee Protection Programme (IRPP) are excluded, this figure increases to some 54%.
Processing times are being monitored on an ongoing basis and the IPO is continuously working on ways to improve them.