93. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the progress regarding the new non-EEA students scheme in view of the precarious position of a number of applicants that are eligible for the scheme and are awaiting a decision in order to complete their studies. [15757/19]
Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): I am advised by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) of my Department that the Special Scheme for Students closed to new applications on 20 January, 2019. The scheme applies to students who were registered between 1st January 2005 and 31st December 2010 when new immigration arrangements for students came into operation. Part of these arrangements provided for students registered before 2010 to finish their course of study.
INIS received approximately 3,100 applications comprising former students and their family members under the Special Scheme for Students. To date, INIS has made a decision in approximately 800 cases. The Deputy will appreciate that it is necessary to process such applications in compliance with legal requirements and in accordance with the Scheme criteria. While every effort is made to process applications as soon as possible, processing times will vary having regard to the overall volume of applications and the complexity of individual cases.
INIS has already taken a number of measures to address this cohort of complex cases including the introduction of an on-line application facility for the Scheme to make it as streamlined as possible for applicants. The resources available for these activities, which includes the provision of overtime, and the accompanying operational and organisational structures, are kept under ongoing review to ensure that applications are processed as efficiently as possible.