102. Deputy Brendan Howlin asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he is satisfied with the time taken to process visitor visas for persons coming here for business reasons; the average expected time between receipt of the application and decision; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7227/19]
Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): I am advised by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) of my Department that decisions regarding the grant or refusal of visas are made in a number of INIS Visa Offices overseas, the INIS Visa Office in Dublin, and at Embassies of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade which process certain visa applications under delegated sanction from my Department.
As of 11 February 2019, the Dublin Visa Office was processing business visa applications received on 4 February 2019. Processing times for other Visa Offices overseas and for Embassies will vary but are generally between 3 and 10 days at this time.
There has been an increase in the number of visa applications across most categories of people wishing to come to Ireland for a variety of purposes. Notwithstanding, processing times are still on a par with, and in many cases have been significantly improved upon, those of the same time last year.
More generally, there has been an improvement in processing times for visas in recent weeks. It is expected that this will improve further in the coming weeks. However, it should be noted that processing times in Visa Offices may vary having regard to seasonal demands, the volume of applications received, the particular merits of individual applications, their complexity, whether the need to investigate or enquire further, and the resources available.
The Deputy can be assured that every effort is made to keep processing times to a minimum, and a number of measures have been put in place to deal with the increased demand for visas to come to Ireland. This has included the assignment of additional staff to help process applications, and more generally the streamlining of visa processes where possible. I am advised that this is making a difference to the point where processing times are generally within the administrative target set by INIS, these targets taking into account the time required to undertake essential checks. The targets themselves have not been adjusted to take account of the increased numbers of visa applications in certain locations. The position in this regard is being kept under review, and will be monitored closely in the coming months.