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Visa Applications

Dáil Éireann Debate, Wednesday - 19 January 2022

Wednesday, 19 January 2022

Ceisteanna (1184)

John Lahart

Ceist:

1184. Deputy John Lahart asked the Minister for Justice her views on the fact that the operators of unregulated websites are earning thousands of euro by block booking appointments on the State’s online visa system; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [63007/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

My Department is aware that there have been issues in the past around the securing of registration appointments and has continually introduced software fixes designed to improve the system. These new measures have been partly successful in preventing the block booking of appointments by third party agents.  

However, some third party agents continue to provide appointment booking services in return for payment on the basis that the person provides them with their personal details in advance. My Department strongly advises against this practice of providing sensitive and personal data to unregulated and unknown third parties.  

As a result of the unavoidable delays that have resulted from closures and the reduced capacity of the Registration Office during Covid-19, a high number of customers are now coming forward to seek an appointment. When the office is open, 50% of normal capacity or 200 first time registration appointments are permitted every day in the Registration Office of my Department. This is the maximum allowed under current public health guidelines, which are strictly adhered to for the safety of all staff and customers alike.

As part of my Department’s ongoing work to meet the current unprecedented demand for first-time registration appointments, on 10 January 2022, a Freephone service (0800 741 741) was introduced for customers. It is currently operating 12 hours a day from Monday to Friday (8am to 8pm) and 8 hours a day on Saturday and Sunday (9am to 5pm). There are between 15 and 20 customer service representatives taking calls and making appointments. All appointments for persons to register their immigration permission  are now issued through this service, with operators offering one appointment per call, unless it is for an identifiable family group.

In the first week of operation, over 2,000 customers have received appointments booked through the Freephone service. On average, more than 425 customer appointments are confirmed each day and registration will take place as soon as possible.

The Registration Office’s customer service team is available to support customers who may have language difficulties or may need assistance with translation. A number of multi-lingual videos describing the registration process and what to expect are available on our website www.irishimmigration.ie.

A new Immigration Service appointment and scheduling system, which will streamline and further improve the registration process, is currently being developed and is expected to be available to customers shortly.

Dublin based customers seeking to renew their permission can continue to do so online at  https://inisonline.jahs.ie/user/login.

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