Hundreds queue at dawn for Irish visas

Immigrants line up as early as 6am outside Garda immigration office in Dublin

Thu, Jun 19, 2014, 10:04

Hundreds of immigrants gathered outside the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) offices on Burgh Quay, Dublin, this week to request Irish re-entry visas and student visas.

Spanish, Portuguese and French filled the air as the queue of applicants standing in the Tuesday morning sunshine snaked from Burgh Quay, down Corn Exchange Place and Poolbeg Street, and onto Hawkins Street.

From students to families, applicants from around the world arrived as early as 6am to claim one of the highly sought after tickets which would allow them to enter the INIS office and hand over their application papers. Here, members of the Garda National Immigration Bureau would register the non-European Economic Area applicants looking for a visa.

Solomon* travelled from Laois with his wife and four children, arriving early to queue for re-entry visas for the family.

“We’d like to go on holiday this summer but need this visa to come back,” he explained as his three daughters and son played on the pavement beside him. He said he had to take his children out of school for the morning to make the one-hour train trip to Dublin.

After 45 minutes of waiting he was told the family had arrived too late and would have to return in person the next day. “I’ll come back without my family tomorrow,” he said as he picked up his young son and headed towards the train station.

According to a spokesman for the Department of Justice, immigrants are required to present “in person” at the Burgh Quay offices when applying for a visa.

“This is necessary and unavoidable for establishment of identity and as an anti-fraud measure and is the practice of immigration services worldwide,” said the spokesman.

He said the INIS plans to introduce an on-line booking system for appointments which could save applicants waiting outside for hours.

Rean Leandrini and his girlfriend Morgan travelled from Sao Paulo, Brazil, one month ago to learn English in Dublin. They arrived early at the INIS offices in the hope of securing a visa which would allow them to study for six months and travel around Europe for the rest of the year.

Further up the queue, Oscar from Venezuela explains through Spanish that he has also travelled to Ireland to improve his English. He tried applying for a study visa in May but was refused.

“I’ve already paid for a year of classes in a language school here in Dublin so I hope I get it,” he added, before walking through the INIS entrance.

According to the Department of Justice spokesman, about 130,000 applicants attend the Burgh Quay office each year, which often presents “logistical challenges”.

“While over the past 18 months there have been no unmanageable issues with queues taking into account the scale of the operation involved, INIS is nevertheless anxious that queuing be reduced to the absolute minimum at the earliest possible opportunity.”

*Applicants interviewed refused to give their surnames for fear of trouble obtaining a visa.