Immigration to introduce online booking for visa slots

Hundreds of workers and students queue overnight for visas each week

People queue on Poolbeg Street waiting for the Garda National Immigration Bureau to open on Burgh Quay. Photo: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

People queue on Poolbeg Street waiting for the Garda National Immigration Bureau to open on Burgh Quay. Photo: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

 

Foreigners applying for re-entry visas will be able to make online booking appointments in the new year under reforms being introduced by the Department of Justice.

In order to obtain a visa to work in Ireland, non-EU citizens have to queue outside the Garda National Immigration Bureau (GNIB) building on Burgh Quay in Dublin, often overnight.

The Department said the introduction of online booking appointments will be prioritised with the aim of its introduction in the first quarter of 2015.

Over the past few days, more than 3,500 people signed an online petition calling for an online appointment system to be introduced for immigration visas.

The petition’s founder, Elif Dibek, said an online appointment system tool should be integrated into the re-entry visa system.

“Online Appointment System tools exist all over the world; we’re not asking INIS (the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service) to re-invent the wheel.”

She said it has been a decade since the first consultation on an Immigration Residency and Protection Bill, but there is no reform in sight.

“People are now queuing overnight from 8pm until 8am the next morning…..This is no way to treat honest, tax-paying residents.”

Ms Dibek said she created the petition in a personal capacity after seeing hundreds of people queue overnight to obtain a visa.

“There are people who paid thousands to study at the Smurfit School, tech workers like myself, parents etc. The queues have been bad every year but never this bad. The overnight queuing is insane.”

Oleksandr Dobrobaba, an associate account strategist at Google, arrived at 6am to queue for a visa.

He said he previously queued for 10 hours from 6am until 4pm to get his GNIB card.

“I’ve worked in Sweden before and Poland and didn’t experience this. There should be electronic registration. In other countries, you are assigned a time to come in at,” he said.

Mr Dobrobaba, who was one of the people who signed the petition, said there should also be separate days for students and workers to get visas.

Sandeep Andugula, a management consultant, with American multinational Cognizant said he previously queued for eight hours, but had to return and do it all again.

“They should have fixed slots for people to avoid queues. There are people who start queuing at 2am and earlier.”