EU Treaty Rights give EU citizens and their families freedom to move and reside within EU member states.
Most of these visa applications came from four countries – Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Bangladesh.
There were significant concerns that many of these applications were attempting to circumvent immigration laws either in Ireland or in other EU countries.
A number of court cases have arisen, with most broadly resolved in favour of the State.
In 2018, a total of 2,845 EU Treaty Rights visa applications were received. Of 2,269 applications processed, only 218 (9.61%) were granted. Most were refused or withdrawn.
Since 2015, garda investigations have been conducted on 2,100 cases and 91% of these have had residence permissions revoked or withdrawn.
Many of the probes involved immigration abuses such as marriages of convenience.
In 2018, 865 residence permissions were revoked, an increase of 173% compared to 2017. A total of 200 deportations were made where marriages of convenience were found.
The report shows a 12% increase in visa applications with 140,000 processed in 2018 and an 11% annual increase in the number of non-EEA nationals living in Ireland, to almost 143,000.
A total of 121,220 visas were granted out of 140,533 applications.
At the end of 2017, 127,955 non-EEA nationals had permission to live in Ireland.
The 2014 figure was 105,569 visas.
Over 5,000 people were removed from the State in 2018, 95% of whom were refused entry at the port of entry and were returned to their point of origin. This figure is an increase from 2014, when 2,687 were removed. In 2017, 3,968 people were removed from the state.
In 2018, 163 people, who were either living in Ireland illegally or had been refused international protection, were deported.
A total of 68 EU nationals were also returned to their home countries, because they represented a “serious threat to society”.
A further 213 people were helped to return home voluntarily.
The Irish Passenger Information Unit (IPIU) was set up in May 2018. It provides for the use of passenger name record data to prevent acts of crime and terrorism and improve co-operation between European law agencies.
The IPIU transposes Directive 2016/681 into Irish law and identifies people who require further examination by a competent authority, such as Revenue or An Garda Síochána.
Since November 2017, automatic border control ‘eGates’ have been operating at Dublin Airport. Twenty-five eGates have been installed – 10 in Terminal 1, 10 in Terminal 2, and 5 in the new transfer area within Terminal 2.
Irish and other EU travellers who have a passport with an electronic chip and are 18 years or older may use the eGates.
Statistics show that more than 2.5 million travellers used the eGates in 2018, including over 1.3 million Irish passport holders.
The top ten countries of applicant origin for visa decisions in 2018 were: India, China, Russia, Pakistan, Nigeria, Turkey, Philippines, Ukraine, Saudi Arabia and Indonesia.
A total of 8,225 immigrants were granted Irish citizenship last year. The top 10 nationalities of people naturalised in 2018 were Poland (17.8%), Romania (10%), United Kingdom (8.4%), India (7.6%), Nigeria (5.8%), Pakistan (4.4%), Philippines (3.9%), Latvia (3.7%), China (2.8%0 and Brazil (2.7%).
The minister said that ongoing reform of immigration services will streamline structures and improve communications.
Changes include the rollout of online application forms.
The annual review provides figures on border management, visas, registration and residence, citizenship, international protection and removals from the state.
Visitors from countries in the EEA, and countries such as USA, Canada and New Zealand are not captured within these statistics as they do not require visas.
A total of 53,762 re-entry visa applications were also processed during 2018 from nationals who required a visa and are already resident in Ireland.
Re-entry visas were abolished for adults in May.
A total of 123 applications from people working for a “recognised religious group” were assessed in 2018. Of these, 81.5% of applicants were successful and granted permissions to enter and remain in the State for up to three years. Nineteen applications were refused.
A total of 209 people who were invited to work with a registered charity or a qualifying sporting organisation were assessed in 2018 and 81% were allowed to enter and remain in the State for up to two years.
By the end of 2018, over 2,000 people had arrived in Ireland under the Irish Refugee Protection Scheme, first established in September 2015.
The average length of time people spend in State-provided accommodation centres has been reduced. In 2015, the average was 38 months. By the end of 2018, it was 24 months.
The International Protection Office had 5,700 internal protection applications for asylum on hand.