Immigrant applications approach 166,000


Almost 166,000 new applications for visas, residence, asylum and citizenship were received by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service in 2012, according to the Department of Justice.

And there was a 26 per cent drop in people seeking asylum in Ireland compared to 2011.

The department has also said a “high level of identity swapping” was discovered last year.

Since June 2012, the fingerprints of almost 3,000 visa applicants have been cross-checked against the UK immigration database.

As a result “numerous incidences of identity swapping” had been revealed and people who had “adverse immigration histories in the UK” had also been identified.

Fingerprint checking

Separately, the fingerprints of 1,750 asylum seekers who had their applications refused in Ireland were checked against UK records and almost 30 per cent matched.

“The majority of these persons were known to the UK in a different identity which demonstrated a high level of identity swapping,” it said.

Some 950 applications for asylum in Ireland were received last year, down from 1,290 in 2011 and from 11,600 at the peak in 2002. There was also a drop of 650 in the number of people in asylum-seeker direct accommodation, such as hostels and bed and breakfasts, to 4,750 last year.

Almost 2,700 people were deported in 2012, with 2,260 of these being refused entry.

Nearly 300 people who had been living here, but who were refused asylum-seeker status or were deemed to be illegal immigrants were also deported. They were mainly from Nigeria, Pakistan, Georgia, Tanzania and South Africa.

Some 86 asylum seekers were sent back to the EU country where they first applied for asylum, and 55 Europeans were sent to their home countries under EU removal orders. Almost 500 people also returned home voluntarily rather than be deported. These included individuals from Brazil, Moldova, China, Mauritius and Georgia.

Over 25,000 citizenship applications were decided on, the department said, with 22,000 granted. Applications decided on were up from 16,000 in 2011 and approximately 8,000 in 2010.

Non-EEA applications

Some 88,000 entry visa applications were made last year, up by 6 per cent on 2011. These allow individuals from non-European Economic Area countries to enter Ireland. More than 90 per cent of these applications were granted, and more than half the people were from India, Russia, China, Nigeria and Turkey.

All non-EEA people remaining in Ireland for over 90 days are required to register with the Garda National Immigration Bureau. Some 115,000 were on the register last year, down from 128,200 in 2011.

Minister for Justice Alan Shatter said there had been significant progress in reforming the immigration service in 2012. In 2013, priorities would include publication of the Immigration, Residence and Protection Bill, to “radically reform and modernise” asylum and residency application processes.

Immigration: Key Numbers:


New applications for visas, residence, protection and citizenship received by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service in 2012


Entry visa applications received


The approximate number of people deported from the State in 2012