Today Minister McEntee announced the Department of Justice Plan for 2021 in line with the Programme for Government. A wide range of reforms are proposed from the provision of assistance to victims and vulnerable witnesses in sexual violence cases to reforms in the immigration process.
Stressing the importance of inclusivity and fairness, the Plan proposes a number of headline areas for reform with 43 detailed actions:
- Develop a fully digital, customer-centric immigration service
- Protect the fairness and enhance the efficiency of the immigration system through new strategic policies and legislative proposals
- Communicate effectively with service users, recognising and undertaking their diversity and supporting them to engage effectively with the Department
- Restructure the immigration services to better serve customers and the State
- Ensure that effective controls are exercised at borders in line with international obligations to maintain national security
- Eliminate processing backlogs across all immigration application types
Of particular note is the proposal to create pathways to regularise the status of long-term undocumented people and their dependents. It is envisioned that this scheme will be open for applications in the second half of 2021. Details of the criteria for this scheme are not yet released.
To make the visa system more efficient, it is proposed to carry out a review of additional application types which could transition to a pre-clearance model, providing applicants with certainty in advance of their arrival in Ireland and review and expand to additional countries the Short Stay Visa Waiver and 5-year-Multi-Visa option.
The backlog in Citizenship applications is also addressed with an assurance that this backlog will be cleared through alternative means and the restoration of Citizenship ceremonies as soon as possible.
In addition, the Plan proposes an agile system for International Protection applicants and complete a review of the International Protection process. The Department are simplifying their processes for the whole immigration process and are committed to providing information in plain English and their website available in the most common languages used by customers.
Should you require assistance with applications for Citizenship and naturalisation, general immigration matters or visa applications, please contact Stephen Kirwan (firstname.lastname@example.org) of this office.