95. Deputy Eric Byrne asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the measures she is taking to deal with the outrageous system of queueing that is currently in place for the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [44275/15]
Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): In relation to persons seeking to obtain re-entry visas, I would inform the Deputy that a new on-line appointments service for re-entry visas was introduced on 11 November, 2016 allowing applicants to make appointments prior to attending the Public Office. Applicants wishing to apply in person for a re-entry visa now make an appointment on-line, and are seen at the confirmed date and time. There is no need for people to queue for this service.
As has been stressed on previous occasions, the simplest and easiest way to apply for a re-entry visa is by registered post. There is no necessity to attend at the Public Office and INIS urges all applicants to make full use of the postal service insofar as possible. Postal applications are normally processed within 10 working days and should always be the first option. Special arrangements are made for emergency cases through the new on-line system.
In relation to the persons seeking to register their permission with An Garda Síochána, I would refer the Deputy to my reply to Dáil Question No. 180 of 13th October, 2015 which sets out in detail the arrangements that were put in place with effect from 30 September, 2015 by An Garda Síochána National Immigration Bureau (GNIB), with the assistance of the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS).
These measures addressed the queues at the GNIB Registration Office in Burgh Quay, Dublin 2 during the peak autumn period and worked very effectively by improving throughput and relieving the congestion in the public office that occurs in this period as demand for registration increases from students returning to their studies. I also arranged for additional staff resources from INIS to be made available to assist GNIB in this period.
Another of the measures taken was the implementation of separate arrangements for students from certain colleges. I would like to acknowledge the support of and cooperation of the Colleges in making these arrangements work successfully.
The measures taken at the GNIB public Office means that the peak demand has been met ahead of schedule compared to previous years with demand now restored to normal levels. Accordingly, there is no need for anyone using the service to queue outside the building in advance of opening hours. For example, I am advised that at 1pm yesterday there were still 100 tickets available for that day with the office open until 9:30 p.m.
I would like to commend the staff of both INIS and the GNIB for their work in dealing with such a large volume of registrations and re-entry visa applications, including working over weekends to ensure these demands were met in the shortest possible timeframe.