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RECENT IMMIGATION UPDATES

Important information for residents of  South Africa, Botswana, Eswatini and Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia

In a notice published on the 22nd December 2021 on the webpage of the Embassy of Ireland, South Africa  it is stated that With effect from 00.01 on Wednesday, 22nd December 2021, nationals of Botswana, Eswatini Lesotho and South Africa are no longer entry visa required and nationals of Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia and South Africa are no longer transit visa required.

https://www.dfa.ie/irish-embassy/south-africa/

There is no such notice on the Home Page of the Immigration Service Delivery, however the list of visa and non-visa required nationals has been updated to reflect this change.

http://www.irishimmigration.ie/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/Immigration-Service-Delivery-Visa-and-Non-Visa-Required-Countries.pdf

 

Deadline to Apply for Withdrawal Agreement Beneficiaries Card extended:

The Minister has extended the deadline to apply for a Withdrawal Agreement Beneficiaries from 31st December 2020 to the 30th June 2022. It is important that any Non-EEA family member of a British citizen who is currently resident in the State on foot of an EU Fam residence card applies to exchange their residence card for a  Withdrawal Agreement Beneficiaries without delay. It is also open to British citizens themselves to apply for this recognition as well.

The full notice can be found below:

https://www.irishimmigration.ie/extension-of-date-for-non-eea-family-members-of-uk-nationals-residing-in-ireland-before-the-end-of-the-transition-period-on-31-december-2020-to-apply-for-a-residence-document-under-the-withdrawal-agre/

MINISTER FOR JUSTICE ANNOUNCES FURTHER EXTENSION OF IMMIGRATION PERMISSIONS TO 31ST MAY 2022

On the 17th December 2021, Minister for Justice, Helen McEntee announced a further extension of international protection and immigration permissions. The extension has been set to 31st May 2022. Therefore, any person in the State who’s immigration permission was due to expire between 15th January 2022 and 31st May 2022 will automatically have permission to reside in the State up to 31st May 2022. This temporary permission extension also covers persons who have had their permission extended by any of the previous eight temporary extensions since March 2020.

 

Every person that qualifies for this temporary permission extension should either register or renew their permission before 31st May 2022, in order to confirm that they continue to have valid permission to reside in the State after this date.

 

In its statement announcing the new extension, the Department of Justice assured that anyone who is entitled to a new IRP card may travel during the Christmas period up to 15th January 2022, using their current expired IRP card. However, adults who plan to travel after 15th January 2022 that have not yet received their new IRP card must secure a re-entry visa in Ireland before travelling or in an overseas visa office before returning. Minors travelling with legally resident parent/s or guardian/s will not need a re-entry visa, per the current  suspension on this requirement that will be extended to 31st May 2022.

 

The Burgh Quay registration office in Dublin is open for appointments and those based in Dublin can renew their permission online at https://inisonline.jahs.ie. Renewals for persons located outside of Dublin are processed by the Garda National Immigration Bureau.

 

The Department has announced that they will be launching a new Freephone telephone booking system in January to assist with the high demand for first time registration appointments.

 

The full statement announcing the permission extension can be found on the Department of Justice’s website here.

UPDATED VISA REQUIREMENTS FOR PERSONS TRAVELLING FROM DESIGNATED COUNTRIES

We refer to our previous blogs in relation to the Minister’s notice of 26th November relating to the new immigration requirements for nationals of South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique and Zimbabwe

This notice has again been updated on 6th December 2021 by the Department of Justice.

The notice is entitled:

Visa Requirements for Persons Travelling from South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique and Zimbabwe (or persons who have been in those countries in the last 14 days).

On 28th and 30th November 2021 the Minister enacted the following Regulations:

HEALTH ACT 1947 (SECTION 31A – TEMPORARY RESTRICTIONS) (COVID-19) (RESTRICTIONS UPON TRAVEL TO THE STATE FROM CERTAIN STATES) (NO. 5) (AMENDMENT) (NO. 6) REGULATIONS 2021

A full version of the Regulations is available here:

https://www.irishstatutebook.ie/eli/2021/si/639/made/en/pdf

The updated notice outlines that if you are visa or non-visa  required national and you are travelling to Ireland from South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique and Zimbabwe you will be required to comply with the restrictions on travel provided for in these Regulations.

It is stated that visa applications will only be accepted and processed where an applicant comes within one of the outlined exemptions:

  • Has obtained or is entitled to apply for a right of residence under EU Free Movement
  • Has a valid Residence Permission in the State under the immigration Acts
  • Is a family member of an Irish citizen
  • Is a diplomat and to whom the privileges and immunities conferred by an international agreement or arrangement or customary international law apply in the State, pursuant to the Diplomatic Relations and Immunities Acts 1967 to 2006 or any other enactment or the Constitution

The notice further elaborates that even where an applicant meets the above exceptions, travel should be limited to “essential journeys only”.

The Minister confirms that the Regulations only apply to persons travelling from South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique and Zimbabwe.

It is confirmed that if you have not been in one of the above countries in the previous 14 days  prior to arrival in the State the Regulations do not apply to you.

Nationals of South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique and Zimbabwe remain visa required persons. Persons who hold nationality of the above countries, who have not been in above  countries for the previous 14 days can apply for a visa in the normal way and are not subject to the narrow exemptions above.

It should be noted that the Minister has a policy to seek proof of lawful residence in the country from which a visa required national applies for their visa to Ireland. Our experience has been that the Relevant Irish Embassy/Visa Office will seek evidence of lawful residence permission from the applicant in the Country from which they have applied for their visa.

The full update of 6th December  can be found below:

https://www.irishimmigration.ie/covid-19-visa-arrangements/

This notice is complex and the Immigration procedures for nationals of South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique and Zimbabwe have now been amended at least three times within a period of 2 weeks.

This highlights the continued uncertainty and ongoing challenges of the pandemic.  We understand the distress and worry this will have caused to those affected.

If this notice affects you or your family, please do not hesitate to contact Berkeley Solicitors to discuss your case.

NEW ENTRY AND TRANSIT VISA REQUIREMENTS FOR CERTAIN AFRICAN COUNTRIES AMENDED

We refer to our previous blog on 30th November 2021:

https://berkeleysolicitors.ie/new-entry-and-transit-visa-requirements-for-certain-african-countries-announced/

The Minister for Justice has amended the  entry visa and transit visa requirements for nationals of South Africa, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho  and Namibia.

The priority categories for which visa applications will be accepted and processed  has been amended and severely reduced to the following:

  • has obtained or is entitled to apply for a right of residence under EU Free Movement;
  • has a valid Residence Permission in the State under the immigration Acts (including persons covered by the interim arrangements that apply from 15 November 2021 to 15 January 2021
  • is a family member of an Irish citizen
  • has not been in one of the following countries (South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique, and Zimbabwe) in the previous 14 days prior to the date of travel to the State;
  • is a diplomat and to whom the privileges and immunities conferred by an international agreement or arrangement or customary international law apply in the State, pursuant to the Diplomatic Relations and Immunities Acts 1967 to 2006 or any other enactment or the Constitution.

This is severely reduced from the previous notice, which included employment permit holders and all join family visa applications.

Affected persons  should also take note of the Minister’s note of caution that further changes may take place at short notice.

If this affects you or your family, please get in contact with Berkeley Solicitors to discuss your case.

 

MINISTER FOR JUSTICE ANNOUNCES CHANGES TO NATURALISATION APPLICATIONS AND IMMIGRATION REQUIREMENTS OVER THE CHRISTMAS PERIOD

In notices dated the 15th and 16th November 2021, the Minister for Justice has announced a number of immigration changes to the processing of naturalisation applications and immigration requirements over the Christmas period.

With regards to the processing of naturalisation applications, the Minister has announced that that from the 1st January 2022, new applicants for naturalisation will not be required to submit their original passports with the initial application.

Applicants will instead be required to submit a full colour copy of their entire passport, including the front and back covers. The colour copy must be witnessed by a solicitor and submitted with the application form and supporting documents.

In addition, the Minister announced that significant changes are being introduced regarding the number of proofs required to establish identity and residency as part of the application process. More details will be announced on the Department’s website in the coming weeks.

With regards to immigration requirements over the Christmas period, the Minister announced that anyone holding an Irish Residence Permit card that was in-date at the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020 can use their current expired card to depart from and return to Ireland in confidence over Christmas and until 15 January 2022.

It was also announced that re-entry visa requirements for children under the age of 16 have also been suspended until 15th January 2022.

The notice states that holders of expired IRP cards wishing to travel over the Christmas period must be able to show a copy of the travel confirmation notice, available here, and their original expired IRP when travelling.

This is a temporary measure and travellers with expired cards will need to return to Ireland before the 15th January 2022. This measure is not available to persons who do not have a physical IRP card in their possession.

We welcome these changes which will simplify the naturalisation application process and will allow individuals with expired IRP cards to travel and visit family over Christmas.

The full notices can be read here and here.

Further updates will be posted on our blog.

If you or a family member have queries about your immigration status, please do not hesitate to contact our office.

CONGRATULATIONS TO CLIENTS OF BERKELEY SOLICITORS WHO HAVE BEEN RECENTLY APPROVED FOR NATURALISATION

Berkeley Solicitors offers congratulations to a number of our clients who have recently received approval on their naturalisation applications.

This is very welcome news for our clients, many of whom have been waiting in excess of two years to have their applications approved.

The successful applicants have been invited to attend a citizenship ceremony on Monday 13th December 2021, the first in-person ceremony in many months due to Covid-19 restrictions.

Berkeley Solicitors congratulates our clients on receiving this good news after a very long wait.

If you or a family member have queries about the naturalisation process, please do not hesitate to contact our office.

EUROPEAN COMMISSION OUTLINES PROPOSALS TO EASE RESTRICTIONS ON NON-ESSENTIAL TRAVEL

In an announcement published on the 3rd May 2021, the European Commission has proposed that Member States begin to ease current restrictions on non-essential travel from outside the European Union.

This announcement was made in light of the progress associated with the vaccine rollout as scientific advice indicates that the risk of transmitting Covid-19 is significantly lowered once a person has been vaccinated.

It is submitted that those who have received both vaccination doses will be permitted to enter the EU on presentation of a vaccine certificate.

The Commission has acknowledged that with the development of the Digital Green Certificate, Member States should also accept certificates from Non-EU nationals.

It is suggested that:

‘Member States could consider setting up a portal allowing travellers to ask for the recognition of a vaccination certificate issued by a non-EU country.’

The full Commission announcement can be found at:

https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/ip_21_2121

In contrast to the Commission’s announcement, the Department of Justice issued notice on the 5th May 2021 that the suspension on processing non-priority visa and preclearance applications has been extended until further notice.

This notice can be found here:

http://www.inis.gov.ie/en/INIS/Pages/visas-updates

This means that the Minister is continuing to prohibit travel for non-EEA family members of Union citizens.

This does not appear to be in line with the current guidance from the European Commission.

 

PASSPORT SERVICES TO BE CONSIDERED ESSENTIAL UNDER NEW PLANS BROUGHT TO CABINET

Today, new proposals will be brought to Cabinet by the Minister for Foreign Affairs which will deem the production of passports an essential service.

The majority of passport services have been suspended since December in line with the Level 5 restrictions.

It is planned that the Minister will ask the Cabinet to consider passport services an essential service in order to allow the backlog to be efficiently cleared.

Approximately 89,000 people have been affected by delays in the processing of passport applications including 44,000 domestic applications and 45,000 from outside the State.

The issuing of a passport to Irish citizens is provided for under the Passports Act 2008 which states:

‘a person who is an Irish citizen and is, subject to this Act, thereby entitled to be issued with a passport.’

Berkeley Solicitors therefore believes that the failure to issue passports to Irish citizens is contrary to this Act.

This matter is of great concern and Berkeley Solicitors has received many queries from those who have been unable to receive a passport for travel or identification purposes.

In deeming the production of passports an essential service, it is hoped that this backlog can be cleared in a matter of weeks.

Berkeley Solicitors are happy to see this news today and we hope that it will benefit those who have been affected.

MINISTER FOR JUSTICE PUBLISHES UPDATE ON THE PROCESSING OF NEW VISA APPLICATIONS FOR IMPERATIVE FAMILY REASONS

As of 29th January 2021, the Department of Justice has ceased accepting the majority of new visa/preclearance applications due to Covid-19, with the exception of a number of Priority/Emergency categories of visas.

The Priority/Emergency category includes persons travelling for imperative family reasons.

The Minister for Justice has published an update providing clarity on the meaning of imperative family reasons for the purpose of new visa applications.

In a notice dated 6th April 2021, it is stated that:

“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 but do not include the following: missing a loved one; wanting to attend a birth; or wanting to attend a wedding or a milestone birthday. Please note that this list of examples is not exhaustive and whether your application meets the criteria or not is determined by examining the circumstances and supporting documentation of each case on an individual basis.”

The full notice can be read here.

If you or a family member have any queries about applying for a visa to Ireland, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

MINISTER FOR JUSTICE ANNOUNCES FURTHER EXTENSION OF IMMIGRATION PERMISSIONS

On 26th March 2021, the Minister for Justice Helen McEntee published a notice announcing a further temporary extension of immigration and international protection permissions. This extension applies to immigration and international protection permissions to reside in the State that are due to expire between 21st April 2021 and 20th September 2021.

It applies to all persons with a current valid permission, whether pursuant to domestic law or powers of the Minister, or pursuant to Directive 2004/38/EC (the EU Free Movement Directive).

All such permissions are automatically renewed by the Minister to the 20th of September 2021.

Any permission that was renewed by the previous notices and was due to expire between 21st April 2021 and 20th September 2021 is automatically renewed by this notice until 20th September 2021.

The automatic renewal is on the same basis as the existing permission and the same conditions will continue to apply.

Announcing the measure, the Minister for Justice commented:

“As the COVID-19 situation continues to evolve, I want to reassure people whose immigration permissions are due to expire shortly that your legal status in the country will continue to be maintained. To do this, I am introducing a further automatic extension to 20 September 2021 for anyone already holding a valid permission.

“This extension will benefit those who cannot get an appointment to register or renew an existing permission. However, I encourage anyone who can renew, particularly Dublin-based customers who can use the online system, to do so and not to wait until September.

The notice also confirms that the Registration Office in Burgh Quay remains closed due to Covid-19 restrictions. Persons who were issued with appointments for first time registrations will be contacted directly by the Immigration Service and they will be prioritised for appointments once the Public Office can safely reopen.

The notice can be read in full here.

If you or a family member have queries about your immigration permission, please do not hesitate to contact our office.