Immigration service reforms to include online bookings

No reason for people to queue overnight on Burgh Quay, says Department

Foreigners applying for re-entry visas will be able to make online booking appointments in the new year under planned reforms of the immigration services.

Campaigners have called for changes to services at the Garda National Immigration Bureau building at Burgh Quay, Dublin, where visa applicants have started queuing from as early as 1am for appointments.

An online petition states: “All we are asking for, is an online appointment system tool to be integrated into the re-entry visa system”.

However, the Department of Justice on Tuesday said there is no need for anyone to queue outside the offices of the immigration services for re-entry visas and that immigrants should instead use postal applications.

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“The Immigration Service has processed all postal applications and wish to again remind applicants to use this service rather than having to attend in person,” a spokeswoman said.

In addition, she said “a major reform of the delivery of immigration services is underway including the transfer of registration functions from the GNIB to the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service.

“This presents opportunities to streamline both registration and visa re-entry services and Inis will be introducing online services as part of this process. The introduction of online booking appointments will be prioritised with the aim of its introduction in the first quarter of 2015.”

Green Party councillor Claire Byrne said she welcomed the planned reforms but expressed frustration that immigrants will have had to wait so long for an online booking system to be introduced.

All non-nationals who are not citizens of the European Union, the European Economic Area or Switzerland, must register with the Garda and at all times have a valid registration certificate in the form of a GNIB Card.

In these instances, the applicant must present to the GNIB in person.

The Department of Justice said these type of applicants are in the minority and that under the new reforms they will be able to book an appointment online which will give them a particular time slot during which to turn up at the office.

A re-entry visa is necessary for travel purposes only, allowing the holder to re-enter the State upon their return.

Dan Griffin

Dan Griffin

Dan Griffin is an Irish Times journalist