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Ireland moves to online visa renewals for Dublin-based students

Short on time? Here are the highlights:
    • Irish immigration officials have announced a new online visa renewal system for Dublin-based students from outside the EU
    • The new process will come into effect in August 2019 and will relieve renewing students of the requirement for an in-person meeting with Irish officials

The Irish government has announced a new online system that will allow some non-EU students to renew their visas online. The online renewal option will only be available to students based in the greater Dublin area who have completed their first year of post-secondary studies in Ireland.

The move was announced on 29 July by Minister for Justice and Equality Charlie Flanagan, and the new system will be in effect as of 26 August 2019.

“Ireland is home to universities and colleges of global standing,” said Minister Flanagan. “Increasing numbers of international students choose to come to study in Ireland every year. I am pleased to be able to make their interactions with the immigration services more accessible and user-friendly.”

The online system will relieve Dublin-based students of the current requirement for an in-person meeting with local officials. The move will also, as the Minister points out, “free up in-person appointments for other customers.”

International students in Ireland, but outside of Dublin, will still be obliged to visit their nearest Garda District Office for an in-person renewal meeting. But the shift to online visa renewals this month is expected to smooth the process for up to 8,000 visiting students between September and November of this year alone.

University Times observed recently that, “Those applying for permission to be in Ireland normally have to renew their registration every 12 months. The Irish Times has reported that the current system has led to long queues outside the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service.”

Indeed, the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) has said as well that registrations for the wider Dublin area are carried out at a single location – the INIS offices at Burgh Quay – and last year a total of 83,400 were registered via that facility with the remainder registered at over 75 Garda District Offices through the rest of the country.

INIS explains that Dublin-based, non-EU students renewing visas via the new system will now be able to submit their application and all supporting documentation online, pay the registration fee online, and then mail their passport to INIS. The passport is needed to complete registration as their visa renewal has to be placed in their passport in the form of the relevant immigration stamp. The updated passport will then be returned by registered mail and the accompanying permit card will follow separately, and also by registered mail.

INIS reports as well that a total of 138,400 non-EEA nationals registered their immigration permission to be in Ireland in 2018. Within that total, students accounted for 55,000 (or 40%) of all registrations last year.

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