Almost 16,000 people were refused visas to travel to Ireland last year, with almost half of all the applications received from citizens of Nigeria and Yemen declined.
New figures from the Department of Justice show that 153,197 people applied for a visa to come to Ireland in 2019, with 89.6% of those granted.
However, refusal rates vary enormously according to the country of origin, with people from some countries almost certain to be given a visa and other nationalities facing an uphill struggle.
The Department of Justice said the visa process has a crucial role in supporting economic activity in the State, but has to be balanced against maintaining “an effective immigration regime”.
Around 14% of the applications related to business, while 7.5% were planning to attend a conference or similar event.
Just under 5% were taking up a role in employment or as a researcher while 47% — 72,364 people — were just coming for a visit.
The figures show particular difficulties for citizens of some African countries in being allowed to come here.
Last year, there were 7,597 visa applications from Nigeria but just 4,126 of those — or 54.3% — were granted.
A spokesman for the Department of Justice said the visa process was key in supporting tourism, promoting Ireland as a destination for international education, facilitating those coming for business or work, and allowing family members to visit.