Written Answers - Visa Applications

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 721 No. 3

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  208.  Deputy Fergus O’Dowd  Information on Fergus O'Dowd  Zoom on Fergus O'Dowd   asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform  Information on Dermot Ahern  Zoom on Dermot Ahern   the number of international students that are registered with the Garda National Immigration Bureau and Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service in tabular form; the percentage of these students that attend English language colleges, further education colleges and higher education colleges; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41987/10]

Minister for Justice and Law Reform (Deputy Dermot Ahern): Information on Dermot Ahern  Zoom on Dermot Ahern  There are some difficulties in precise classification as some institutions may offer courses of more than one type. However, based on an analysis by the immigration authorities of the computerised records, the table below provides the information sought by the Deputy as at 29 October 2010. It should be noted that international students who are required to register with the Garda National Immigration Bureau are non-EEA students whose course of study exceeds 3 months. These represent a minority of those coming to Ireland to study. By far the largest cohort of international students comprises EEA nationals engaged in language courses. These are not included in the figures as such persons do not have to register with the immigration authorities.

Non-EEA Students registered in Ireland as at 29 October 2010 by education sector

English Language Further Education Higher Education Other Total
9,286 9,822 11,110 1,303 31,521
29% 31% 36% 4% 100%

  209.  Deputy Fergus O’Dowd  Information on Fergus O'Dowd  Zoom on Fergus O'Dowd   asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform  Information on Dermot Ahern  Zoom on Dermot Ahern   the grounds upon which an international student may be refused a student visa; under what criteria may a student be refused a visa on grounds that their need to undertake a course in this State is not demonstrated or warranted; his views that these grounds may be open to wide interpretation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41988/10]

Minister for Justice and Law Reform (Deputy Dermot Ahern): Information on Dermot Ahern  Zoom on Dermot Ahern  At the outset, it should be borne in mind that each visa application is considered on its individual merits, with the onus resting with the applicant to satisfy the visa officer as to why the visa should be granted.

In assessing a visa application, a visa officer takes all relevant factors into consideration depending on the type of visa sought. Information regarding visa application requirements and reasons for refusal can be found on the website of the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (www.inis.gov.ie).

While the nature of individual study visa applications can vary widely, the following examples illustrate typical circumstances which could lead to a determination by a visa officer that the need to undertake the course in this State is neither demonstrated nor warranted:

an applicant has not outlined and/or satisfied the visa officer as to the reasons for undertaking the particular course of study identified in the visa application. There may not have been any clear link made by the applicant to a need to pursue a particular course — be it a change of career, work related studies or progression/advancement to the next stage of study e.g. diploma, degree or masters level.

an applicant has already obtained a higher level of qualification in a particular area than that which the course of study offers; for example, a case where an applicant holds a degree in nursing yet applies to study a FETAC level care-assistant course.

[691]the course in question is readily available in the home country of the applicant and there is no reason for the applicant to travel to Ireland for the purpose of study.

an applicant is from a country where English is commonly spoken but seeks to study English in Ireland rather than in their home country.

A decision to refuse on the basis that the need to undertake a course in this State is not demonstrated or warranted is at the discretion of the visa officer and is a matter of judgement taking into account all the circumstances. However, I believe the availability of this ground for refusal is justified in circumstances such as those outlined in the examples above.

It is important that Study Visas are sought by and granted only to individuals whose primary purpose in coming to Ireland is to study. The Deputy may be aware of the generous facility regarding employment which is afforded to international students to assist with living expenses, i.e., 20 hours work permissible during term time and 40 hours permissible outside of term time. There is however an obligation on my Department to guard against persons seeking a Study Visa when in fact they are essentially economic migrants.

As with all visa regimes worldwide, the central concern is to strike an appropriate balance between protecting the country’s vital national interests by maintaining an effective immigration regime, while at the same time not placing unnecessary or unreasonable obstacles in the way of those who intend travelling for legitimate purposes and who are likely to abide by the terms of their visa. Each visa application is decided on its individual merits and every effort is made to achieve this balance.


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