Posts

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.

NEW VISA AND PRECLEARANCE APPLICATIONS SUSPENDED

On 29th January 2021, a notice was posted on the Department of Justice website noting that the Minister for Justice had imposed several new measures with regard to travel to the State. The Notice stated that it is currently against the law for any person to travel within Ireland for non-essential purposes outside their 5km radius, and that:

“The strong advice therefore is that everyone, regardless of their nationality or visa/preclearance status, or where they started from, who cannot provide proof of an essential purpose to travel to or within Ireland, should not travel to Ireland.”

The notice states that from the 29th January 2021 the Department is temporarily ceasing the acceptance of new visa/preclearance applications. This notice states that any applications made online will remain valid but a decision will not be made on these applications until such time as restrictions have been lifted.

 “Increasing travel restrictions and the measures introduced as part of the Government’s efforts to interrupt the transmission of COVID-19 means that travel may not be possible and even if possible is not advisable unless absolutely essential.”

Priority or Emergency cases will continue to be processed online in the normal manner with specific instructions for submission detailed on the summary page, at the end of the application.

The full list of applications  currently falling within this category are as follows:

  • Workers or self-employed persons exercising critical occupations including healthcare workers, frontier and posted workers as well as seasonal workers as referred to in the Guidelines concerning the exercise of the free movement of workers during the COVID-19 outbreak;
  • transport workers or transport service providers, including drivers of freight vehicles carrying goods for use in the territory as well as those merely transiting;
  • patients travelling for imperative medical reasons;
  • pupils, students and trainees who travel abroad on a daily basis and Third-country nationals travelling for the purpose of 3rd level study;
  • persons travelling for imperative family or business reasons;
  • 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;
  • seafarers;
  • journalists, when performing their duties.

The list of priority/ emergency visa has been amended from the previous visa suspensions during last year.

Of particular note is the fact that applications for visas/ pre clearance submitted pursuant to Directive 2004/38/EC and the European Communities ( Free Movement of Persons) Regulation 2015 are not currently listed as priority and based on this published note alone  would appear to be suspended.

In addition to the above, the Minister signed an order imposing new visa requirements on passport holders from a number of South American countries and South Africa. The order came into effect at midnight on the 27th January 2021. In addition to the existing visa required countries, nationals of the following countries are now visa required nationals:

  • Argentina
  • Bolivia
  • Brazil
  • Chile
  • Colombia (transit visa now required – this country is already subject to entry visa requirements)
  • Ecuador (transit visa now required – this country is already subject to entry visa requirements)
  • Guyana
  • Paraguay
  • Peru (transit visa now required – this country is already subject to entry visa requirements)
  • South Africa
  • Suriname (transit visa now required – this country is already subject to entry visa requirements)
  • Uruguay

 

SUPREME COURT DETERMINES DEFINITION OF A CHILD FOR PURPOSES OF FAMILY REUNIFICATION

The recent ruling of the Irish Supreme Court in X v Minister for Justice and Equality [2020] IESC 284, was delivered on 7th June 2020. The Supreme Court held that the definition of child for the purposes of Section 56(9) of the International Protection Act 2015 is confined to a biological or adopted child only.

The judgement overturns the finding in the High Court that the definition of child within the International Protection Act could include more far reaching interpretations of “child”, citing the variety and complexity of family relationships.

The Court highlighted the wording of the legislative provision, is “child of the sponsor”. The Court found that the clear reading of this provision limited the scope of children to biological and adopted children. The Court further noted that other children were excluded from the definition of family members for immigration purposes including children over the age of 18. The Court found that the provisions of Section 56(9) where much more restrictive than its predecessor, The Refugee Act 1996.

The Court also found that it would be wrong and incorrect of the Minister to request DNA evidence as a matter of course in respect of refugee family reunification applications. The Court did however find that were there was a legitimate reason or cause to doubt parentage or family relationship it can be an appropriate action of the Minister to request such evidence. The Court noted that the Minister does have guidelines with respect to DNA evidence in respect of D join family visa applications, but that it did not have guidelines in place in respect of refugee family reunification.   The Court noted that DNA goes to the heart of a person’s identity and should only be requested if there is no alternative method to resolve the issues at hand.

The Supreme Court allowed the Minister’s appeal and overturned the decision of the High Court.

If you have any queries regarding how this judgement may affect your application for family reunification, please do not hesitate to contact our office.