independent

Sunday 20 April 2014

Data on migrants shared with UK

Justice Minister Alan Shatter says the exchange of data with the UK prevents immigration abuses

The details of more than 75,000 immigrants in Ireland were shared with officials in the UK last year.

Figures showed 166,000 new applications for visas, residency, citizenship and protection were submitted in the republic during 2013.

Almost 2,250 men and women were deported or removed from the country, including 1,890 who were refused entry at airports or ports.

The Irish Department of Justice said the details of more than 75,000 visa applicants from non-Irish nationals were cross-checked against UK records in 2013.

Justice Minister Alan Shatter said the exchange of such data prevents immigration abuses and preserves the integrity of the Common Travel Area (CTA) for genuine travellers.

"Through working with the UK to protect the CTA from abuse by sharing immigration data, the integrity of the CTA is being preserved to the mutual benefit of both countries and all persons who wish to travel to or reside in the CTA area by legitimate means," he said.

Some 12% of the Irish population - 544,000 people - are listed as foreigners, with the majority from EU countries.

A review of immigration related activity in Ireland for 2013 showed:

:: 4,370 asylum seekers were living in direct provision centres, down 30% from 2010.

:: 1,890 asylum seekers were refused entry, with 210 failed applicants deported home - mainly to Nigeria, China, Mauritius, Albania and Pakistan.

:: 84 were transferred to other EU member states, 63 Europeans returned to their countries and 425 persons opted to return home voluntarily.

:: about 120,000 non-Europeans were granted permission to remain, down from 133,200 in 2010.

:: 95,000 visa applications were made, up 14% since 2011, with an approval rate is 91%.

:: top three nationalities applying for visas were India 16%, Russia 15%, and China 11%.

:: over 30,000 applications for citizenship decided, up 20%, with almost 18,000 people attending 18 citizenship ceremonies held.

Mr Shatter said his office has made 68,000 decisions on naturalisation applications since he took office.

He maintained there were key reforms to improve the operation and efficiency of the immigration system, with 70% of standard applications decided in less than six months.

"One of my main objectives in the asylum, immigration and citizenship areas has been to reduce backlogs and the length of time applicants are waiting for decisions on their applications," he added.

"Huge improvements have been made in the citizenship area, visa applications are being processed in a matter of days in the great majority of cases and in the asylum area new applications are processed to completion within months."

Press Association

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