Initially launched last year for university students, the platform allows non-EEA students – whose numbers increased from 9,325 in 2013 to 13,519 in 2017 – to complete the entire renewal process online.

Minister for justice and equality, Charlie Flanagan, also clarified that the service will be made available to all categories of non-national students residing in the Dublin area, who are eligible for renewal of their permission to reside in Ireland.

“It removed all the stress and anxiety of trying to book an appointment”

Flanagan said that the move would allow the department to “process renewals more efficiently” and “focus more closely on the quality of documentation being provided”.

“Importantly, the new system will also relieve pressure on the public registration office which, when it reopens, will focus exclusively on first time student registrations.

“This will improve the quality of customer service provided to this group as well,” he added.

Although the online system can only be used by students based in Ireland’s capital – immigration is managed by INIS in Dublin and the GNIB elsewhere in the country – the department said it further plans to roll out the service to other categories of applicants in the next few months.

“The changes that we’ve seen in the last few years have been fantastic,” Colum Cronin, senior international student adviser at University College Dublin told The PIE News.

“We had students that used the process last year and found it was really quick. It removed all the stress and anxiety of trying to book an appointment.

“The fact that people were struggling to get appointments was having a really negative impact on the student experience,” he added.

“Hopefully we will get to a point where only first-time registers would need to go to the office in person. It makes it a much more positive experience and makes Ireland much more attractive.”

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