Posts

MINISTER FOR JUSTICE ANNOUNCES THE RESUMPTION OF SHORT STAY ENTRY VISA PROCESSING AND THE FINAL EXTENSION OF IMMIGRATION PERMISSIONS

Resumption of Short Stay Entry Visa Processing

On 10th September 2021, the Minister for Justice Heather Humphreys TD and the Minister of State for Law Reform, Youth Justice and Immigration, James Browne TD, announced the resumption of short stay entry visa processing. This came into effect on Monday, the 13th September 2021 and applications for short stay visas are now open.

Minister Humphreys stated that this decision is pursuant to the Government’s approach to the next phase of the COVID-19 pandemic. Therefore, Minister Humphreys highlighted that “all travellers arriving into Ireland must continue to comply fully with measures required by law including producing proof of vaccination, recovery from Covid-19 or a negative PCR test.”

The resumption will allow nationals of visa required countries to travel to Ireland for the first time since March 2020. Minister Browne acknowledged the positive impact this will have for many,

“As Minister of State for Immigration I fully appreciate how difficult these restrictions, which were necessary to keep us all safe, have been for many people. As we continue to reopen our society, the resumption of short stay visa processing will be welcome news for people who want to travel to Ireland to visit family, to study or for business reasons.”

Information regarding countries which require a visa/ preclearance to enter Ireland can be found here.

The notice can be read in full here.

Final Extension of Immigration Permissions

On 24th September 2021, the Minister for Justice Heather Humphreys and the Minister of State for Law Reform, Youth Justice and Immigration, James Browne announced a final temporary extension of immigration international protection permissions to 15th January 2022. This extension applies to immigration and international protection permissions to reside in the State that are due to expire between 21st September 2021 and 15th January 2022.

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 15th January 2022.

Any permission that was renewed by the previous notices and was due to expire between 21st September 2021 and 15th January 2022 is automatically renewed by this notice until 15th January 2022. 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 Humphreys commented:

“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 final automatic extension to 15 January 2022 for anyone already holding a valid permission.”

“This extension will benefit those that have so far been unable to get an appointment to register a first time permission or have yet to renew an existing permission. However, I must emphasise that this will be the final temporary extension and I strongly encourage everyone to use the time between now and 15 January to make all efforts do so and not to wait until the last minute when demand may be high.”

The notice further highlights that the Registration Office in Burgh Quay is open for appointments and customers based in Dublin can renew a permission online at https://inisonline.jahs.ie. For customers outside of Dublin, renewals are processed by the Garda National Immigration Bureau. Information in relation to registration offices located outside Dublin can be found at www.garda.ie/en/contact-us/station-directory.

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.

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.

CURRENT DELAYS IN PROCESSING APPLICATIONS FOR NATURALISATION AS AN IRISH CITIZEN

Many of our clients are currently experiencing considerable delays in the processing and determination of their application for naturalisation based on five years reckonable residency or three years reckonable residency based on the spouse or civil partner of an Irish citizen.

The Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service proposes to render decisions for naturalisation applications within six months.

Despite the INIS website stating that “in general, it takes 6 months for a straightforward application to be processed from  the date it is received to the date a decision is made”, in the experience of Berkeley Solicitors, many people continue to experience delays well beyond the proposed time frames.

We are aware of an increasing number of applicants who have been waiting more than two years on the determination of their application. We are also aware of a number of applicants waiting up to four years on their determination.

These long and continued delays in the processing of naturalisation applications has been understandably very frustrating for our clients. Many of our clients are not provided with an explanation for these inordinate delays.

We note this issue has previously been reviewed in Dana Salman v Minister for Justice and Equality. This case involved a hearing in order to establish liability of costs in respect of Judicial Review proceedings challenging the Minister’s delay, of three years and nine months, in issuing a decision on an application for naturalisation.

As no reason for the delay had been given by the Minister and no system was in place to ensure to fair processing of such applications, on 16th December 2011, Mr Justice Kearns of the Supreme Court awarded costs to the Applicant.

Further, we would highlight that in June 2011, then Minister for Justice and Equality and Defence, Mr Alan Shatter stated that, upon entering office, he had taken steps to deal with the extensive backlog of citizenship applications and under the new system, those applying for citizenship would receive “a decision on their application within six months”.

Unfortunately, for a large number of clients, this time-frame has not been adhered to.

There are very substantial delays now occurring in the processing of applications for naturalisation and we have noticed an increased number of clients contacting our office in recent weeks, with queries as to what the options available to them are.

Due to these ongoing delays, our office has issued High Court Judicial Review proceedings on behalf of our some clients, to challenge these unlawful delays before the High Court, which are causing severe stress and anxiety to those lawfully resident in Ireland and who meet the requirements under the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 1956.

Our office is experienced in the submission of applications for naturalisation as an Irish citizen and do our best to assist our clients through this lengthy application process. If you or your family are impacted by these issues or similar issues, please do not hesitate to contact us to discuss this in more detail.