Online visa renewal system extended to all foreign nationals in Dublin
Non-EEA nationals living outside Dublin must still attend Garda station in person
Once it re-opens, Burgh Quay will initially prioritise people who had their first time registrations for permission to reside in Ireland cancelled because of coronavirus restrictions. File photograph: Nick Bradshaw
All foreign nationals living in Dublin who need to renew their permission to reside here can now complete the process online and no longer have to appear in person at the registration office, the Department of Justice has said.
The Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) office, which was closed in March as part of Covid-19 restrictions, will re-open on July 20th for those registering with the authorities for the first time, the department added.
The Government announced the launch of new online renewal system in mid-June but stated at the time that it could only be used by students based in Dublin and not by other foreign nationals.
The system, which was piloted among 3,500 students in 2019, has now been extended to all foreign nationals seeking renewal in the capital but remains unavailable to people living elsewhere in the country.
The department said the Garda National and Immigration Bureau (GNIB) would continue to process renewal applications outside Dublin in Garda stations and that it was examining how best to re-open registration offices while adhering to public health guidelines.
The new online system will initially be made available between July 7th-20th to students and those with “urgent need to travel and who require an immigration residence permit (IRP) card before they travel”, said the department.
Minister for Justice Helen McEntee said the new system would make visa renewals “easier and quicker” and meant people no longer had to attend an appointment in the city centre.
First time registrations must be done in person with immigration officials as a photograph and fingerprints need to be taken, said the department.
Once it re-opens, Burgh Quay will initially prioritise people who had their first time registrations cancelled because of coronavirus restrictions, said the minister, adding that the INIS would contact people directly about new appointments.
Under the new online system, applicants must complete their renewal form online, upload copies of supporting documents, pay the applicable fee and then submit their passport and current Irish Residence Permit (IRP card) by post.
Previously, foreign nationals had to secure an appointment online and then present in person at the INIS office on Burgh’s Quay to renew their papers. The Government has been repeatedly criticised in recent years for its poor online appointment system which has seen numerous unregulated operators block booking slots which they then sell on at a profit.
Before the pandemic, applicants said it had become near impossible to secure a slot on the Government website with many handing over sensitive personal data to third parties in order to get an appointment before their visa expired.
The launch of the online visa renewal system comes more than 18 months after the department of justice first committed to replacing the old system.