Several hundred immigrants gathered outside the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) offices on Burgh Quay, Dublin, this morning to request Irish re-entry visas and student visas.
The queue of applicants standing in the street as they waited for the office to open 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 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.
The issue of the length of the queue has been on ongoing source of controversy as immigrants are forced to stand on the street for hours, with some turned away and told to return the following day in the event of the office closing.
Contacted about the matter by The Irish Times in June, a spokesman for the Department of Justice said immigrants were 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.
Approximately 130,000 applicants attend the Burgh Quay office each year, which often presents “logistical challenges”, he said.
“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.”
He said the INIS planned to introduce an on-line booking system for appointments which could save applicants waiting outside for hours. A spokeswoman for the department was this evening unable to provide an update on its progress.