Thursday, 17 September 2020

Ceisteanna (160)

Ruairí Ó Murchú


160. Deputy Ruairí Ó Murchú asked the Minister for Justice the waiting time for the join family or category A visas; the cause of the delays in the processing of the visas; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24574/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

The central concern, as with all visa services worldwide, in deciding on visa applications, 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 relevant factors into account.  

The Policy Document on Family Reunification published in December 2013 contains a stated business target that visa applications to join Irish citizens should be dealt with within six months of receipt of application and applications to join non-EEA nationals should be dealt with within 12 months of receipt.Target times for the processing of visas are established as a business target, reflecting the detailed and often complex assessment required to be carried out in relation to applications, and do not constitute a legal obligation.

Decisions regarding the grant or refusal of visas are made in a number of Visa Offices overseas, 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 time for visas in each location is determined by a number of factors, such as the volumes and complexity of applications, peak application periods and the resources available. While every effort is made to process such applications as quickly as possible, processing times inevitably vary as a result of these factors. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on the way the Immigration Service Delivery function (ISD) of my Department conducts its business. In line with Government and public health advice, ISD has implemented a suite of measures to help in reducing the spread of the virus. These measures included the closure of our offices in Burgh Quay and the implementation of remote working for Immigration Services staff in order to comply with social and physical distancing measures. Unfortunately, these measures have led to a reduction in processing capacity. While delays are expected including in the processing of family re-unification visa applications, ISD is endeavouring to keep operating to the best of its ability.

I am advised that the time taken to decide "join family" visa applications, from family members who are in Category A in the Dublin Visa Office, where all necessary information is available to the Visa Officer, is currently around 6 months.  The time taken for "join family" visa applications from family members who are in Category B, is approximately 12 months. The processing times for visa decisions are published on the visa pages of each Visa Office and Embassy website.