The Minister for Justice has issued a set of guidelines/ temporary measures in relation to Covid-19.
One of these measures relates to persons who have been granted visa applications to enter Ireland but have been unable to travel to the state due to travel restrictions in this global pandemic.
A lot of clients contacted our office in recent weeks, with queries as to what will happen to their visas or their family’s visas if they are unable to travel to and enter the State during the validity of their visa sticker.
It had been our initial hope that the Minister would reissue the visa sticker at a time when travel was possible and safe, or alternatively, each case would be considered on a case by case basis.
This is unfortunately not the case.
The guidelines state as follows:
Q 5. What facility will be put in place if I am currently outside Ireland and was recently granted a C or D entry visa for Ireland but I am now unable to come to Ireland during the validity period of my entry visa due to travel restrictions? Can my entry visa be extended or will I have to submit a new visa application?
- You will have to submit a new visa application. Given the uncertainty of the current situation, visa stickers will not re-issue for new dates at this time. However, depending on the period of time that has passed and the circumstances of the particular case, if you decide to re-apply, we will consider waiving the fee for the later application.
This is extremely disappointing and hugely worrying for our clients.
Firstly, the great joy of our clients and their family members when a positive visa decision is issued to them, has now been replaced with being a position of having to start the whole application procedure again.
Our clients have been through extremely long waiting periods and difficult visa application processes and appeals. Some of our clients have had to issue litigation or court proceedings in order to have their family members issued visas to join them in the State.
Visa applications involving an Irish citizen have a guideline processing time of 6 months, those sponsored by Non-EEA legal residents have a processing guideline of 12 months.
Appeals have a similar if not longer wait time and significant delays beyond the guideline processing time exists.
Some of our clients have waited years for visas to be issued to their family members.
Long stay, join family visa applications also have specific financial thresholds and requirements, that are assessed at the time of application. An applicant who was eligible at one point, may not be eligible at the point of a new application, meaning that people whose family currently hold entry visas, may have significant difficulties obtaining new visas for them.
Upper age limits also apply for persons applying for their children to join them, and children may have “aged out” or surpassed the upper limit at the date of a new application.
A particular concern is for British citizens and their family members. If they are required to start the visa process again, it is very possible that their visa applications and applications for residence in the State will not be processed in advance of the transitional period before Britain leaves the EU. This will leave their pending applications in a legal limbo.
Visa application centres, Irish Embassies and Consulates are currently closed, making the commencement of a new visa application at this time difficult and uncertain.
This policy will cause a significant amount of hurt and distress for people and will ultimately result in further periods of family separation.
If you are affected by this issue, please contact our office to discuss your case.