'Ridiculously' long immigration queues in Cork

'Ridiculously' long immigration queues in Cork
The immigration queue outside Anglesea Street Garda Station on Tuesday morning.

People trying to get an appointment with the Garda National Immigration Bureau (GNIB) in Cork's Anglesea Street Station are being forced to queue for hours each morning.

Some people are queuing from 5am, just to ensure they get an appointment for the next week.

On Tuesday, the queue snaked around the outside of the building. On Wednesday it was not as busy, and people waited inside.

Delisha Duran has been working in Cork for the past year and is trying to renew her work visa. Last year she queued from 6am to secure an appointment. "I went a couple of times during the afternoon. It didn't really work because they close at four."

"So we decided to camp out early in the morning. We queued outside. The queues were stretching around the building. I did that for two mornings in a row, I had to miss work. It was awful."

"It's a shame, they have an [online appointment] system in Dublin," she said.

Anjali and Jeilin have just started attending college in Cork, and they arrived at 5:15am this morning.

"There were already three people ahead of us, they were sitting on the ground," said Jeilin.

"The token issue [for appointments] started at eight o'clock. But we were able to go inside at around seven o'clock. It's ridiculously cold," said Anjali.

The two women are international students in their first year at UCC and CIT. 

"Our friends who came to college in Cork in previous years told us how bad the situation was. It's relatively better today, usually the queue would be along the street," said Anjali.

"We got an appointment for the 30th, so at least we are informed," she added.

The immigration queue outside Anglesea Street Garda Station on Tuesday morning.
The immigration queue outside Anglesea Street Garda Station on Tuesday morning.

Jennifer McKinley from Canada has just started attending UCC. "I arrived at six thirty in the morning… and we are expected to wait outside in the cold."

"I heard the queues were really bad, and that you had to come get a ticket for an appointment and come back. It's just ridiculous."

"My ticket is for October 1 at 9am, a week and a half away. I'm going to have to miss class for it, and that's the one time I'm really not supposed to. So I don't know what I'm going to do."

"If you could reserve a time online that works for you, that would be better. There's no sense in us all coming at 6:30am, and waiting until 8am, to get a ticket for a time you can't go to," says Jennifer.

Immigration in Dublin is managed by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS), who offer an online appointment booking system. 

However, Fiona Hurley, Policy and Communications Manager at NASC, the Migrant and Refugee Rights Centre, says this has caused serious problems in Dublin.

"People are using a computer programme to block book the appointments. Then the appointments are sold off for a profit. People in Dublin are now saying that the queues were bad, but at least if they waited they were guaranteed an appointment."

"They may have planned to extend the Dublin system, but I doubt that will go ahead," she adds.

Fiona says there are some simple things that can be done to speed up the process. "This time of year the queues are always bad. International students attending UCC and CIT come back to college and this results in an increase in visa applications."

"Years ago in Dublin, the colleges used to organise specific days and times, such as an evening, for their international students to register with the GNIB. This resulted in reduced wait times. UCC and CIT could do this as well."

"Being clear about what people need to bring to appointments can also help. People might not realise they need a utility bill and have to come back for another appointment."

A sign directing people to queue outside the Anglesea Street station.
A sign directing people to queue outside the Anglesea Street station.

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