THERE WAS A six per cent increase in the number of people applying for Irish visas in 2012, figures released by the Minister for Justice Alan Shatter have shown.
Of the approximately visa 88,000 applications received, 91 per cent were approved.
The top five nationalities that applied for visas were as follows:
- India (16 per cent)
- Russia (14 per cent)
- China (11 per cent)
- Nigeria (eight per cent)
- Turkey (five per cent)
These applications formed part of the approximately 165,700 applications received, which included visa, residence, protection and citizenship requests.
Decisions were reached by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) in almost 175,000 cases, which included decisions relating to applications from previous years.
Requests to remain in the State
Over 96,700 requests were granted by the Garda National Immigration Bureau. Approximately 115,000 people who are not from the European Economic Area (EEA) are currently registered and allowed to remain in the State as a result of this, a drop of over 10 per cent on 2011.
The top six registered nationalities were as follows:
- India (11 per cent)
- Brazil (10 per cent)
- Nigeria (9 per cent)
- China (eight per cent)
- USA (eight per cent)
- Philippines (seven per cent)
Over 25,000 applications for citizenship were decided on in 2012 compared to 16,000 in 2011 and fewer than 8,000 in 2010.
There were 38 citizenship ceremonies held in 2012.
There are approximately 31,400 non-EEA students currently registered for study in Ireland. Of these, 38 per cent are in degree courses, 26 per cent in non-degree courses, 28 per cent in language courses and nine per cent in other study, which includes secondary level education.
Protection and Asylum
Provisional figures show there were 950 submissions for asylum, down from 1,290 in 2011.
At its peak in 2002, the number of applications for asylum totalled 11,600.
At year-end, approximately 4,750 people who had sought international protection were accommodated in direct provision centres in the State, a decrease of 650 on 2011.
Deportations totalled almost 2,700 in 2011, of which 2,260 were refusals at various ports of entry.
A further 467 people who would otherwise have been issued with a deportation order chose to return home voluntarily in 2012.
In cooperation with the UK, the fingerprints of over 3,000 Irish visa applicants were cross-checked with the UK’s immigration fingerprint database.
Separately, the fingerprints of 1,750 failed asylum seekers were checked against immigration records in the UK, where nearly 30 per cent of them matched their records, showing up discrepancies such as the same person having previously entered the UK under a different identity.
Looking to the year ahead, Shatter said that he hoped that Ireland’s immigration system would continue to be reformed:
Reform of the immigration system will be sustained in 2013 and I will be focusing on major legislative and procedural measures such as the Immigration, Residence and Protection Bill and further civilianisation of Immigration Officer functions at Dublin Airport.
International cooperation will be a central theme of 2013. In the context of the Common Travel Area, I will be prioritising cooperation with the UK on initiatives such as a Common Travel Area visa, which is of potentially significant economic and tourism value, and systems for improved collection and sharing of visa data.
Similarly, Ireland’s hosting of Presidency of the EU is an opportunity for enhanced practical cooperation on immigration issues at EU level.