International students and the GNIB

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Sir, – The thousands of international research students at UCD share the frustration of scheduling an appointment with the Garda National Immigration Bureau (GNIB).

The only option is to go through the online system, entering name, purpose for stay (study), nationality, and passport number.

Making selections from the drop-down lists and entering information seems straightforward – until the last step, the selection of the “book appointment” button: the universal answer is that no nearest-appointment times are available from the date the request was made.

Some students have found an available appointment, agreed to the booking, only to be informed the slot is no longer available after all.

One may attempt the other method of selecting a specific date within 10 weeks the day the request is made. The online form requires use of a drop-down calendar. All the days are greyed out and no dates can be selected through the end of the year.

This impossibility is beyond the usual bureaucratic procedural difficulties. Students are frequently reminded by administrators how important it is to complete the requirement to register with the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service, and they are urged to complete the process at the earliest opportunity.

The process is like musical chairs, but without any chairs.

The most organised and prepared individual could have easily completed the process with the customs/immigration official at the airport upon arrival.

Instead of working on university assignments and engaging in research, we are consumed by a process so convoluted even Pythagoras could not solve the problem. – Yours, etc,

CARL J BINDENAGEL,

Doctoral Researcher,

School of Sociology,

University College Dublin,

Belfield,

Dublin 4.

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