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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.

PROCESSING OF LONG STAY JOIN FAMILY AND EUTR VISAS TO RESUME

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;
  • seafarers;
  • journalists, when performing their duties.

The full announcement can be read 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.

HIGH COURT CHALLENGES TO THE SUSPENSION ON PROCESSING VISA APPLICATIONS

In a notice published on the 5th May 2021, it was announced that the suspension of processing new visa and preclearance applications would continue until further notice.

Our blog post on this extension can be read here:

https://berkeleysolicitors.ie/suspension-of-visa-and-preclearance-applications-extended-until-further-notice/

Under these restrictions it is currently only priority or emergency applications which are being processed.

The restrictions do not appear to be in line with the European Commission guidance dated 3rd May 2021, which  states the Commission is proposing that Member States ease the current restrictions on non-essential travel into the EU to take into account the progress of vaccination campaigns and developments in the epidemiological situation worldwide.”

Furthermore, Council Recommendation (EU) 2020/912 on the temporary restriction on non-essential travel into the EU and the possible lifting of such restriction, at Annex II, states the specific categories of travellers with an essential function as:

“Passengers travelling for imperative family reasons;

“Persons in need of international protection or for other humanitarian reasons;”

We note this Council recommendation does not apply to Ireland, but acts as a guide, in respect of determining essential travel within the EU during the current pandemic.

The Minister’s ongoing suspension on issuing visa applications has greatly affected individuals and families, with many being separated for long periods of time.

We have successful made representations to the Minister on behalf of one client to issue the visa for his dependent mother due to “imperative family reasons.” However, unfortunately we are aware of a substantial number of clients who cannot obtain visas for their family, even though the visas have been approved.

In light of the difficult situation faced by the affected families, recent challenges have been brought before the High Court regarding the failure to process visa applications for family members of EU citizens.

If you require advices regarding any matters raised in this article, please do not hesitate to contact Berkeley Solicitors.

 

CHILDREN BORN IN IRELAND WITHOUT ENTITLEMENT TO NATIONALITY OF ANY OTHER COUNTRY

Berkeley Solicitors continues to act for a number of children born in Ireland without an entitlement to nationality of any other country.

We believe that our clients are entitled to Irish citizenship pursuant to Article 6(3) of the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 1956.

Section 6 (3) of the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 1956 as amended by section 3(1) of the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act, 2001, states as follows:

“A person born in the island of Ireland is an Irish citizen from birth if he or she is not entitled to citizenship of any other country.”

Berkeley Solicitors is proud to have successfully acted for one client who was approved a Certificate of Nationality on foot of Section 6 (3) of the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 1956 as amended.

We currently have a number of similar applications pending. However, these applications tend to be subject to very long delays.

Further difficulties arise because the Minister has failed to implement a lawful application procedure for such children applying for recognition of their Irish citizenship.

Berkeley Solicitors calls on the Minister to implement a lawful procedure for the small cohort of children resident in Ireland, who are entitled to Irish citizenship pursuant to Section 6 (3) of the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 1956 as amended.

 

BERKELEY SOLICITORS CALLS ON THE MINISTER TO ADDRESS THE ISSUE OF STATELESS PEOPLE IN IRELAND

It is a matter of great concern to Berkeley Solicitors that Ireland continues to deny stateless persons the right to have their status recognised contrary to the UN Convention for Stateless Persons.

The Immigrant Council of Ireland has stated that:

‘Ireland continues to fail in meeting international standards for providing legal framework to protect stateless people and does not have sufficient safeguards in place to prevent and reduce statelessness from occurring through legal gaps.’

The first applicant in Ireland to obtain a declaration of ‘stateless’ status was in 2014, and a client of Ms Karen Berkeley. A summary of the case can be found at:

https://www.irishtimes.com/news/social-affairs/ireland-gives-legal-status-to-first-stateless-resident-1.1742516

Acting for the client, Ms Berkeley commented that Ireland’s failure to establish an administrative process for stateless residents was a breach of its obligations under the 1954 Convention.

However, following this case no application procedure has yet been created by the Minister for Justice.

It is a very unsatisfactory situation that stateless persons generally have to apply for refugee status and fit their case into the narrow legal definition of a refugee.

Berkeley Solicitors calls on the Minister to establish a legal procedure for stateless persons in the UN Convention for Stateless Persons.

 

REOPENING OF BURGH QUAY REGISTRATION OFFICE

The Burgh Quay Registration Office will reopen for non-nationals who are registering for their first immigration permission on Monday 10th May 2021.

In the notice published on the 6th May 2021, INIS stated that the office will be in contact with applicants whose appointments were cancelled due to the closures in line with the level 5 restrictions.

It is intended that these cancelled appointments will be rescheduled as quickly as possible.

Applicants in the Dublin region who wish to register for their first immigration permission can book an appointment at:

https://burghquayregistrationoffice.inis.gov.ie/

For those located outside of Dublin, applications are processed by the Garda National Immigration Bureau. Contact details for these offices can be found here:

https://www.garda.ie/

The reopening now means that those who have been granted residence permission can apply for an Irish Residence Permit and will have evidence of their right to reside and work.

This is very welcome news for our clients who have been facing practical difficulties due to the closures.

The full announcement can be found at:

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

Berkeley Solicitors advises all our clients who have received their first residence permission approval since the closure of Burgh Quay on the 23rd December 2020 to immediately apply for an appointment to register.