Concerns raised over reopening of immigration services outside Dublin

Clonakilty, Fermoy and Mallow are among GNIBs with no set for reopening date while Middleton's Bureau will reopen on August 1 and Macrooom's will reopen two days later
Concerns raised over reopening of immigration services outside Dublin
The GNIB at Anglesea Street Garda Station, Cork city, reopened on Monday.  

Migrants rights organisations are concerned that the reopening of immigration services outside of Dublin is being done on an "ad-hoc basis".

Outside of Dublin, immigration is dealt with locally by the Garda National Immigration Bureau (GNIB).

There is also a fear that the GNIB will not be able to process the backlog of visa applications and renewals, which have been building up since March.

26 GNIBs reopened on Monday, July 20, on a limited basis. In Cork, Anglesea Street, Bandon and Bantry have reopened.

Twelve offices are planning on reopening on various dates from July 22 to August 31. A further 24 offices still have no set date for reopening.

In Cork, the GNIB in Midleton will reopen on Sat, Aug 1, and Macroom's will reopen on Mon, Aug 3.

Clonakilty, Fermoy and Mallow are among those GNIBs with no set date for reopening.

Last Thursday, a third automatic one-month visa extension was applied by the Department of Justice. This means anyone who needed to renew their visa during the pandemic will become 'undocumented' by Aug 20.

The immigration queue outside Anglesea Street Garda Station in September 2019.
The immigration queue outside Anglesea Street Garda Station in September 2019.

However, there is no clarity on what happens to those who need to renew their visa before their local GNIB office reopens.

The Garda Press Office said: "After being closed for over three months due to Covid-19 restrictions, Registration Offices outside Dublin are opening on a phased basis. Email addresses for each registration office are provided for queries and the arranging of appointments."

"Individuals wishing to register or renew should contact the Immigration Officer on the email address provided, prior to attending at a Garda Station, as individuals without an appointment will not be seen. A number of Immigration Offices will not open at this time, but updates on opening dates will be provided when available, and the contact details are provided for queries."

Nasc, the Cork-based Migrant and Refugee Rights Centre, said they are very concerned about the re-openings and have already received reports that people are unable to secure appointments due to the backlog: "Many GNIB offices remain closed with no indication of how or when they will safely be able to reopen. This leaves non-EEA nationals in these localities in limbo and Nasc is receiving queries from people who are afraid that they will become undocumented after Aug 20. No guidance has, as yet, been issued as to whether they will be allowed to transfer their registration to another GNIB office."

The immigration queue outside Anglesea Street Garda Station in September 2019
The immigration queue outside Anglesea Street Garda Station in September 2019

"It has become increasingly clear, since the phased reopening of some GNIB offices on July 20, that the GNIB do not have anywhere near the resources to deal with the backlog of the thousands of people whose immigration permissions have expired since March.  Clients are already reporting to us that they have been told by GNIB officers to expect long delays before they will receive an appointment."

Last year, Anglesea Street's GNIB saw large numbers of people queuing from as early as 6am in order to renew visas, with some waiting hours to be processed.

When asked about the allocation of extra resources to deal with the backlog of visa renewals in Cork city, the Garda Press Office said: "Additional staff have been allocated to the Immigration Section, Anglesea Street."

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