Wait for immigration renewals drops to 2-3 weeks – Minister for Justice

New booking system set to improve processing times as Burgh Quay reopens

Large queues at the National Immigration Bureau office on Burgh Quay in 2016, when the old system was in place. File photograph: David Sleator/The Irish Times

Large queues at the National Immigration Bureau office on Burgh Quay in 2016, when the old system was in place. File photograph: David Sleator/The Irish Times

 

The waiting period for non-EU foreign nationals applying to renew their immigration permission to live in Ireland has dropped to 2-3 weeks, less than half the time it used to take, the Minister for Justice has said.

Helen McEntee said on Wednesday the average waiting time for people to renew their stamp permission through the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) had fallen from around 6-7 weeks to an average of 2-3 weeks following the introduction of a new website and additional resources.

Her announcement came as Dublin’s immigration office on Burgh Quay re-opened its doors after closing for six weeks during the level 5 restrictions. The closure put first-time registrations on hold as finger prints are needed to complete the process.

Ms McEntee said new appointment slots would be added daily, to meet the heightened demand, and priority would be give to those who had their first-time registrations cancelled during the second lockdown.

This drop in waiting times for processing applications follows the launch of a new online booking system which, for the first time, allows foreign nationals renewing their stamps to complete the entire process online. The website was initially opened to students in June before being expanded to include all foreign nationals living in Dublin in July.

Non-EU foreign nationals living outside the capital must still appear in person at their local Garda station to renew their immigration status, while first-time registrations nationwide must also be done in person.

The Minister also announced that foreign nationals would no longer have to send in their original passport for stamping when renewing their permission. Instead, renewal applicants can upload and submit a scanned colour copy of the biometrics page of their passport instead, said Ms McEntee. Once the renewal process is successfully completed, the applicant’s Irish Residence Permit (IRP) card is sent out by registered post within 10 working days, she added.

More than 40,000 applications for permission to live in Ireland have been processed since the new online system launched in mid-July, 18 months after the Department of Justice first committed to replacing the old system.

Previously, non-EU foreign nationals had to secure an appointment online and present in person at the Burgh Quay immigration office to renew their stamp permission. The Government was repeatedly criticised for this poorly run online appointment system, which saw numerous unregulated operators block-booking slots, which they then sold on at a profit.

Before the pandemic, applicants said it had become nearly 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.

Despite the introduction of the new Government booking website this summer, some of these operators continue to charge people up to €40 to secure an appointment slot and still receive Facebook requests from members of the public seeking support.