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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 NEW REGULARISATION SCHEME FOR LONG-TERM UNDOCUMENTED MIGRANTS

On 3rd December 2021, the Minister for Justice announced a new scheme which will enable many undocumented migrants to apply to regularise their residency status.

The scheme will open for online applications in January 2022 and applications will be accepted for six months.

The scheme will include those who do not have a current permission to reside in Ireland, whether they arrived illegally or whether their permission expired or was withdrawn years ago.

In order to be eligible, applicants must have been undocumented for a period of four years, or three years in the case of those with dependent children.

According to a briefing session with Department of Justice officials held on 2nd December  2021, a short period of absence from the State in the undocumented period for those who would otherwise qualify will be disregarded. This will be limited to a max of 60 days absence from the State and the documented period arising from the short-term tourist permission (up to 90 days).

Applicants must meet standards regarding good character, though having convictions for minor offences will not, of itself, result in disqualification.

There will be no requirement for applicants to demonstrate that they would not be a financial burden on the State, as the scheme is aimed at those who may be economically and socially marginalised as a result of their undocumented status.

The scheme will also be open to individuals with expired student permission, those who have been issued with a section 3 notice under the Immigration Act 1999, and those who have received deportation orders.

The scheme is also expected to include international protection applicants who have been in the asylum process for a minimum of 2 years, though full details on this are yet to be announced.

There will be an application fee of €700 for family unit applications, while a fee of €550 will apply to individuals’ applications. Children up to 23 years, living with their parent(s), can be included in a family unit application.

Successful applicants will be granted residence permission which will allow access to the labour market and will provide a pathway to Irish citizenship.

Announcing the scheme, the Minister for Justice Helen McEntee stated:

“I’m delighted that the Government has approved my proposal for this momentous, once-in-a-generation scheme.

Given that those who will benefit from this scheme currently live in the shadows, it is difficult to say how many will be eligible, but we are opening this scheme for six months from January to allow people come forward and regularise their status.

It will bring some much-needed certainty and peace of mind to thousands of people who are already living here and making a valuable contribution to our society and the economy, many of whom may be very vulnerable due to their current immigration circumstances.”

As a result, they may be reluctant to seek medical assistance when ill, assistance from An Garda Síochána when they are the victim of a crime, or a range of other supports designed to assist vulnerable people in their times of need.”

I believe that in opening this scheme, we are demonstrating the same goodwill and generosity of spirit that we ask is shown to the countless Irish people who left this island to build their lives elsewhere.”

The full announcement can be read here.

Studies suggest that there are 17,000 undocumented persons in the State, including up to 3,000 children.

Berkeley Solicitors welcomes the announcement of this scheme, which will allow many undocumented migrants to come forward and apply to regularise their status.

BERKELEY SOLICITORS VOTED ONE OF IRELAND’S BEST LAW FIRMS 2022

Berkeley Solicitors are delighted to have been voted one of the best law firms in Ireland for 2022 in the category of Human Rights and Immigration.

The list of Ireland’s best law firms for 2022 was published by the Irish Independent following a peer-to-peer survey of more than 1000 legal professionals.

The full list of firms can be found at:

https://www.independent.ie/business/irelands-best-law-firms/irelands-best-law-firms-2022-full-list-41020380.html

Berkeley solicitors would like to thank our clients and colleagues for their support and we look forward to working with you in 2022.

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.

IILA

FOUNDING OF THE IRISH IMMIGRATION LAWYERS ASSOCIATION

Karen Berkeley is proud to be a founding member of the Irish Immigration Lawyers Association.

The IILA will be launched on Friday 23rd July 2021 at 3 pm and will include addresses from An Taoiseach Micheál Martin and High Court Judge Tara Burns who is in charge of the asylum and immigration list.

The Irish Immigration Lawyers Association will:

  • Run regular CPD events,
  • Have an online forum for the purpose of sharing and exchanging knowledge, experience and research,
  • Liaise with relevant Government departments, the Courts Service, Chief State Solicitor’s Office and the Immigration, Asylum and Citizenship Bar Association in relation to issues of practice and procedure or proposed legislative changes

Solicitors who hold a practising certificate and their associates can register their membership at www.iila.ie.

Further information on the IILA can be found at www.iila.ie

Berkeley Solicitors offers its congratulations to the Irish Immigration Lawyers Association and wishes it every success in the future.

EMPLOYMENT PERMITS NOW OPEN TO HEALTHCARE ASSISTANTS

In an announcement published on 14th June 2021, Minister Damien English confirmed that healthcare assistants will now be eligible to apply for employment permits in the State.

Eligibility for employment permits in Ireland is determined by the critical skills list and ineligible occupations list which are reviewed twice a year.

In deciding to remove healthcare assistants from the ineligible list it was noted that:

‘evidence within the healthcare sector suggest increasing competition for skilled candidates in several healthcare roles.’

In order to be eligible applicants must have a QQI Level 5 qualification after two years of employment.

Minister English commented that:

‘Our economic migration policy accommodates the arrival of non-EEA nationals to fill skills and labour gaps in the domestic economy in the short to medium term.’

The full announcement can be read at:

https://www.gov.ie/en/press-release/ab8d7-minister-damien-english-announces-changes-to-the-employment-permits-system/

Please do not hesitate to contact us if you are affected by this notice or by the matters raised in this blog.

LIFTING OF TEMPORARY ENTRY AND TRANSIT VISA RESTRICTIONS

In an announcement published on 15th June 2021, the Minister for Justice announced that the temporary entry and transit visa restrictions which were imposed on the 28th January 2021 have been lifted for several countries.

It was announced that:

‘From 16th June 2021 passport holders of the following countries can now travel to Ireland without applying for an entry or transit visa in advance of departure:

  • Argentina
  • Bolivia
  • Brazil
  • Chile
  • Guyana
  • Paraguay
  • South Africa
  • Uruguay’

It is important to note that nationals of these countries will still be required to meet the entry conditions of their proposed visit to Ireland.

In its notice, the Department of Justice stated that:

‘conditions of entry may include a requirement to have obtained a pre-clearance for certain purposes of stay.’

Persons travelling to Ireland can verify if they require pre-clearance here:

http://www.inis.gov.ie/en/INIS/Pages/check-irish-visa

Those who do not abide by the necessary entry requirements face the risk of being refused entry at the border.

The full announcement can be found at:

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

Please do not hesitate to contact us if you are affected by this notice or by the matters raised in this blog.

GUIDELINES ON MANDATORY HOTEL QUARANTINE IN IRELAND

On 26th March 2021 mandatory hotel quarantine was introduced in Ireland in an effort to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

The system is legislated for under the Health (Amendment) Act 2021 which makes provision for:

‘the mandatory quarantine of persons coming into the State from certain areas from where there is known to be sustained human transmission of Covid-19 or any variant of concern.’

Therefore, any person travelling from a designated State or any person who has been in a designated State 14 days prior to entering Ireland is obliged to complete mandatory hotel quarantine which can be pre-booked at:

https://www.quarantinehotelsireland.ie/

Additionally, any person arriving from a non-designated State without a ‘not detected’ PCR test result taken within 72 hours of their arrival must also complete mandatory hotel quarantine.

The list of designated States is updated regularly and the full list can be found at:

https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/b4020-travelling-to-ireland-during-the-covid-19-pandemic/#designated-states-mandatory-hotel-quarantine

There are several circumstances under which a person can be exempt from mandatory hotel quarantine.

These include:

  • transit passengers who do not leave the port or airport before leaving the State
  • a person who has completed a full course of an EMA approved vaccine
  • persons travelling to the State to compete in a Sports Ireland certified sports event
  • an adult resident of Ireland who is accompanying a child who was not born in the State and has never previously been in Ireland, travelling for the purpose of becoming ordinarily resident in Ireland
  • a person who is returning to Ireland having gone abroad for unavoidable, imperative and time-sensitive medical reasons and in possession of medical certification of this
  •  a person arriving in the State in the course of their duty and who hold a valid Annex 3 certificate (ensuring the availability of goods and essential services)
  • drivers of a heavy goods vehicle arriving in the State in the course of their duty
  • airline pilots, aircrew, maritime master or maritime crew and who arrive in the State in the course of performing their duties
  • a person travelling to the State pursuant to an arrest warrant, extradition proceedings or other mandatory legal obligation
  • a member of An Garda Síochána or Defence Forces travelling to the State in course of their duty
  • a person travelling to the State for unavoidable, imperative and time-sensitive medical reasons and these reasons are certified by a registered medical practitioner or person with equivalent qualifications outside the State
  • a person having been outside of the State to provide services to or perform the functions of an office holder (under any enactment or the Constitution) or a member of either house of the Oireachtas or the European Parliament
  • diplomats and certain other categories of persons entitled to privileges and immunities in the State

Further information on these categories can be found at:

https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/3b8e1-mandatory-hotel-quarantine-your-questions-answered/#exemptions-from-mandatory-hotel-quarantine

Please do not hesitate to contact us if you are affected by this notice or by the matters raised in this blog.