According to INIS (Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service), there are an estimated 250000 immigration applications every year. And this includes residence permissions, visas applications, non-EEA nationals’ registrations, citizenship, and international protection. Additionally, it is expected that over 16 million passengers will be migrated by INIS through Dublin Airport. Moreover, the labor market in Ireland has significantly strengthened over the last few years, which is as a result of strong job growth and an improving economy.
In order to make sure that the government continues to respond effectively to customer needs and the changing labor market, it came up with the INIS Service Improvement Plan which clearly states a number of recommendations that need to be addressed in the next two years. What’s more, with the hope of improving the immigration service in Ireland, the government has put forward specific strategies that they will adopt so as to tackle the inefficiencies in the delivery of public service. As the improvement plan seeks to promote the principle of tailoring immigration services based on the customer needs, the developments were pretty much welcomed in the country.
So, the government identified the main pillars that will help in shaping the focus areas that will need improvement. The pillars include:
- Mission, legislative context and purpose
- Establishing and maintaining a secure and reliable immigration system
- Effective and efficient service delivery
- Services that are tailored based on the needs of the customer
- Investing resources in delivering change
The government is committed to ensuring that these pillars have been fulfilled, and to ensure that happens, it has committed to undertake the following actions:
- The legislation underpinning the Irish immigration sector was considered in the improvement plan 2018-2020. Even though the legislation regarding international protection was reformed comprehensively in 2015, there are a few other immigration aspects that haven’t been looked at for years. It’s due to this particular reason that the government is hoping to modernise the migration policy by introducing an Immigration and Residency Reform Bill. In 2018, the review of the legislative landscape in Ireland commenced, and it is expected that the process will continue throughout the plan’s lifetime.
- The government wants to enhance the cooperation with several other state agencies in order to ensure that a cohesive approach to protection and immigration-related matters has been established as well as ensuring that the rights and the needs of the immigrants are met and respected. In line with this, the government also wants to ensure that the immigration system reflects the policies of the public at large.
- The government also wants to combine the Public Services Card with the latest Irish Residence Permit (IRP) card and integration of re-entry visas with functions of registration.
- The government also aims to implement advanced technologies in order to boost service delivery to customers. This includes enhanced communications and online service capabilities done through communication channels as well as websites.
- Procuring an appointment and queue management system for the immigration registration offices so as to move from paper-based processes of application to a more technologically advanced decision-making process.
- The improvement plan also seeks to strengthen border security and work together with the United Kingdom to boost the security of the Common Travel Area (CTA). It will include the following; installing 20 eGates with CCTV at Dublin Airport, additional eGates for airport news transfer facility and watch list integration.
- The other thing the improvement plan seeks to do is to continue cooperating with the Garda National Immigration Bureau (GNIB) to carry out investigations through Operation Vantage. These investigations are aimed at catching individuals who are suspected of participating in marriages of conveniences (marriages done for immigration purposes only), particularly individuals who are facilitating such activities.
- Also, the improvement plan aims to eliminate all the processing backlogs in key areas of business, particularly the applications for residence and international protection based on EU Treaty Rights. One way to eliminate these backlogs that the government is considering is to increase the number of staff members in all the relevant immigration offices.
- The government also hopes to prepare a list of skills and competencies that the staff needs to undertake the work in the immigration department.
- It seeks to translate all the relevant information on the immigration website into other languages and also to translate signage in key immigration offices into major foreign languages.
- In the improvement plan, there is also a plan to come up with a Brexit strategy in relation to the CTA. The government is considering a further roll-out of the British Irish Visa Scheme (BIVS) and is also preparing a plan on how the registration of UK citizens will be conducted.
- More fundamentally, in order to incorporate service design thinking into the processes, the government saw it fit to start measuring the views of the customers with regards to the services provided. The government hopes to develop mechanisms to gather and assess the feedback from the customers in a more efficient and continual basis, which will be then used in iterative developments of the country’s processes and systems.
- Moreover, as the Irish Government recognises and values the commitment and expertise of all the staff members, it seeks to ensure that training and development opportunities are directed in a strategic manner. This will be achieved by creating a skills matrix that will benefit the individuals and the organisation. The matrix will be prepared in consultation with the staff members.
Now, after analysing the improvement plan report, it is clear that it aims to encourage a renewed focus on matters relating to immigration and also to achieve greater cooperation among all the relevant government agencies. The improved processes hope to meet customers’ demands and also are also seen as the key in the context of increasing immigration into Ireland. Moreover, the level of flexibility and foresight from the naturalisation and immigration department of Ireland is, for sure, unprecedented and incredibly progressive, with the implementation of key milestone changes – such as the abolition of re-entry visas – already in progress.