In a notice published on 20th May 2021, the Minister has updated the terms of the current suspension on the processing of visas due to Covid 19.
We are happy to report that all join family visa D visa applications, as well as applications submitted under Directive 2004/38/EC and the European Communities (Free Movement of Persons) Regulations 2015 have been deemed Priority/Emergency cases and processing of same has resumed.
The processing of these applications has been suspended since 27th January 2021 due to the level 5 restrictions.
The Minister’s notice confirms:
We can now confirm that we will add the following categories to the list of Priority/Emergency cases and resume processing of these categories immediately:-
Long-stay Join Family Members including
all Long Stay D Visa join family applications (includes Third country national family members of Irish nationals and persons exercising free movement under the EU Directive), and
Preclearance applications for: De Facto Partner of an Irish National; De Facto Partner of a Critical Skills Employment Permit Holder, or of a non EEA Researcher on a Hosting Agreement and Non EEA Family members looking to join a UK National in Ireland.
People travelling for business/employment purposes and granted an employment permit by Department of Enterprise Trade and Employment to meet an enterprise’s key business ‘.
We are happy to see that the processing of join family visas has resumed, many families have endured undue heartache and extreme difficulties caused by the separation caused by this visa suspension. We submit that many families have had their family and private life rights unlawfully impacted and infringed by the Minister’s blanket suspension of join family visas.
We also note the resumed processing of entry visas pursuant to Directive 2004/38/EC and the European Communities (Free Movement of Persons) Regulations 2015. It is our view that the blanket suspension of these visas was in breach of the terms of the Directive and Regulations, as well as being more restrictive and out of step with the recommendations in Council Recommendation (EU) 2020/912.
The notice confirms that the suspension is to remain in place for short-stay visa applications, except for cases that fall under Emergency/Priority criteria.
The Minister has also updated its policy with regards to the assessment of imperative family reasons:
* Applicants seeking to travel for imperative family reasons are assessed on an individual basis and are largely confined to emergency cases that may arise in a family situation. Applications will be determined by examining the circumstances and supporting documentation of each case on an individual basis. While we appreciate how difficult it is to be separated from a loved one or to miss a family occasion or milestone, unfortunately these do not constitute an imperative family reason for a short stay visa application at this time due to public health concerns.
The notice states that the Minister will continue to process pending applications and applications received, however it is stated that for successful applications the visa/ preclearance will only be issued if the application meet the Emergency/Priority criteria.
The notice further confirms that the Minister will continue to process appeal applications. Again, it is stated that unless the application falls within the Emergency/Priority criteria the visa will not be issued until such time as restrictions have been lifted.
The Minister’s notice states that Priority/Emergency cases that will continue to be accepted and processed include the following:
- People travelling for business/employment purposes and granted an employment permit by Department of Enterprise Trade and Employment to meet an enterprise’s key business [See clarification 1];
- patients travelling for imperative medical reasons;
- transport workers or transport service providers, including drivers of freight vehicles carrying goods for use in the territory as well as those merely transiting;
- pupils, students and trainees who travel abroad on a daily basis and Third-country nationals travelling for the purpose of 3rd level study;
- Join Family applications;
- Preclearance applications from De Facto Partner of an Irish National, De Facto Partner of a Critical Skills Employment Permit Holder, or of a non EEA Researcher on a Hosting Agreement and Family members looking to join a UK National in Ireland;
- persons travelling for imperative family* or business reasons;
- Persons entitled to avail of the provision of the EU Free Movement Directive;
- diplomats, staff of international organisations and people invited by international organisations whose physical presence is required for the well-functioning of these organisations, military personnel and police officers, and humanitarian aid workers and civil protection personnel in the exercise of their functions;
- passengers in transit;
- journalists, when performing their duties.
The full announcement can be read at:
Please do not hesitate to contact us if you are affected by this notice or by the matters raised in this blog.