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DIFFERENT APPROACHES TO COVID-19 VISA APPLICATIONS IN IRELAND AND THE UK

The Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in a vast decrease in international travel, and many people with valid Irish visas are now unable to enter the State during the validity period of their visa.

The Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service has stated that it will not re-issue visas for new dates at this time, and those individuals who cannot travel to Ireland during the validity period of their visa will need to reapply for an Irish visa at a later date.

This is in contrast to the approach of the UK Government which has published the following announcement:

“If your 30 day visa to travel to the UK for work, study or to join family has expired, or is about to expire, you can request a replacement visa with revised validity dates free of charge until the end of this year.

To make a request, contact the Coronavirus Immigration Help Centre…

You’ll be contacted when our VACs reopen to arrange for a replacement visa to be endorsed in your passport.

You will not be penalised for being unable collect your BRP while coronavirus measures are in place.

This process will be in place until the end of 2020.”

The announcement can be read in full here.

We at Berkeley Solicitors find the approach of the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service on this issue to be extremely disappointing and unfair to those individuals who have recently been granted visas for Ireland, many of whom may have been waiting many months to receive a decision on their visa application.

We call on the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service to revise their position on this matter and consider adopting a similar approach to that of the UK, allowing those affected to request replacement visas with new validity dates.

If you have any queries about applying for an Irish visa at this time, please do not hesitate to contact our office.

VISA DECISIONS CONTINUE TO BE ISSUED DURING THE COVID-19 CRISIS

We are happy to confirm that decisions in respect of visa applications to travel to Ireland continue to be issued by visa application centres, Irish Embassies and Consulates during the Covid-19 crisis.

Many Embassies, Consulate offices and visa processing centres are closed or are working at a reduced capacity, and so it is encouraging to see that decisions are still being issued throughout the pandemic.

Although there is a significant reduction in the number of decisions being issued in comparison to before Covid-19, it is good news to see clients are being issued with decisions on their pending applications, particularly because many people experience delays, beyond the guideline processing times, in order to have family members issued with visas in order to join them in the State.

Visa decision pages of INIS and respective Embassies and Consulates continue to be updated online.

Our office continues to act for many clients who wish to submit visa applications and who currently have pending visa applications, and we are continuing to liaise with INIS on behalf of our clients in this regard.

We at Berkeley Solicitors would encourage anyone with queries regarding visa applications to contact our office and we would be more than happy to advise.

IMMIGRATION SERVICE DELIVERY ANNOUNCES CHANGE OF PERMISSION APPLICATIONS CAN BE SUBMITTED ELECTRONICALLY UNTIL 20TH MAY 2020

Immigration Service Delivery issued a new notice on 27th April 2020 confirming that a number of change of permission applications may be submitted electronically on a temporary basis until 20th May 2020.

The notice confirms as follows:

“In light of the uncertainties caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, as a temporary measure between now and 20th May 2020, applications for the following change of permissions may be submitted electronically to the Registration Office, Burgh Quay, Dublin (burghquayregoffice@justice.ie):

 

From Stamp To Stamp
Stamp 1 (Critical Skill Employment Permit) Stamp 4 (after 2 completed years on CSEP and DBEI Stamp 4 support letter)
Stamp 1 (Employment Permit) Stamp 4 (after 5 completed years on Employment Permits)
Stamp 2 Stamp 1 (Employment Permit)
Stamp 2 Stamp 1A (Trainee Accountant Contract)
Stamp 1, 2 or 3 Stamp 1G (Spouse of Critical Skill Employment Permit holder)
Stamp 1, 2 or 3 Stamp 4 (Spouse of Irish National)

 All required documentation should be scanned and included in the application. All eligibility criteria will continue to apply.

 Where a permission has been granted, applicants will still be required to register the change as normal once the Registration Office in Burgh Quay and local Registration Offices reopen.”

 

This is a positive development for any clients who wish to submit an application for change of permission and who fall within the categories listed in the notice.

Our office continues to act for many clients who have pending immigration applications, and we are continuing to liaise with INIS on behalf of our clients as normal.

The full notice can be read here.

If you would like more information regarding an application for change of permission, please contact our office.

IMMIGRATION APPLICATIONS CAN BE SUBMITTED ELECTRONICALLY UNTIL 20TH MAY 2020

We are happy to see that INIS has issued a new notice on the 15th April 2020 confirming that EU Treaty Rights and Domestic applications can be submitted by email until the 20th May 2020 as a temporary measure.
The notice confirms as follows:
As part of combined efforts to adhere to the Government’s strategy to slow down the spread of the COVID-19 virus and to ensure customer safety, we have taken the decision, as a temporary measure between now and the 20th May 2020, to allow EU Treaty Rights and Domestic applications to be submitted by email together with scanned copies of supporting documentation. EU Treaty Rights will require the original application to be submitted by post in due course

The full notice can be read at the below link:
http://www.inis.gov.ie/
Our office continues to act for many clients who have pending immigration applications, and we are continuing to liaise with INIS on behalf of our clients as normal.
It is good news to see that any clients who wish to commence new immigration application can now do so electronically, without the requirement to submit original documents at this time.
Please contact our office with any queries regarding commencing new applications.

Berkeley Solicitors

VISA APPLICATIONS DURING THE COVID-19 CRISIS

In a recent blog article, we confirmed that on the 21st March 2020, the Immigration Service Delivery (formerly INIS) announced the temporary suspension of the normal visa application procedures.

It was confirmed that there would some very important exceptions to the suspension would be permitted, as follows;

 

  • Emergency visa (e.g. Healthcare professionals, health researchers, and elderly care professionals;

 

  • Immediate family members of Irish citizens, persons legally resident in the State and Persons entitled to avail of the provision of the EU Free Movement Directive.

 

However, subsequently there was a further announcements from various Embassies and Consulate offices of Ireland, and from VFS Global Ireland, to confirm they are no longer accepting visa applications on a temporary basis;

The Embassy of Ireland in the UK has posted the following announcement:

Please be advised that due to the ongoing Covid-19 situation, it has been decided that all Irish Visa Application Centres (VACs) across the VFS Great Britain network will now remain closed.

While it will still be possible to apply for an Irish visa online in the normal manner, these temporary closures mean that applicants in Great Britain will not be able to complete the application process and submit their applications for consideration. We apologise for any inconvenience this might cause. Please note that any application made online will remain valid until such time as the VACs reopen.

The Embassy of Ireland in Moscow has confirmed as follows:

“We have taken the decision to temporarily cease accepting new visa applications. This is effective from close of business 20th of March 2020. Please see our visa page for further information. ”

VFS Global Ireland has published the following notice on their website regarding Pakistani visa applications for Ireland:

From 23 March 2020 The Consulate of Ireland will not accept any visa applications therefore the VACs in Islamabad, Karachi and Lahore will not be accepting any applications for Irish visas.

The re-opening of the centres will be subject to notifications from central, provincial and city authorities, as well as Irish authorities, so please return to this page for further updates.”

For further information you may visit the website of the Irish Immigration Service http://www.inis.gov.ie/ or the website of the Embassy of Ireland in Turkey https://www.dfa.ie/irish-embassy/turkey/visas/ 

VFS Global Ireland issued similar notices of a temporary closure of the visa application centres in respect of India, Nepal, China, Hong Kong, Nigeria, Qatar and Turkey – all of which have been closed from the 20th March 2020.

It is currently unclear how to apply for visas for the permitted exceptions – emergency visas and family member visas – when it appears that many of the Embassies, Consulate offices and visa processing centres are not accepting visa applications.

 

Berkeley Solicitors

NOTICE REGARDING AUTOMATIC EXTENSIONS OF RESIDENCE PERMISSION

NOTICE REGARDING AUTOMATIC EXTENSIONS OF RESIDENCE PERMISSIONS

The Department has published an important notice to all persons in the State with a current valid permission due to expire from 20/3/2020 to 20/5/2020, whether pursuant to domestic law or powers of the Minister, or Directive 2004/38/EC (Free Movement Directive). The notice confirms that the residence permissions will be automatically renewed for a two month period, on the same basis as the existing permission and with the same condition.

This includes persons in the State as visitors, who have applied for an alternative residence permission and have not yet received a decision – i.e. their visitors permission will be extended for two months.

The notice requires no action from the non national, and confirms the INIS registration offices are temporarily closed. The normal requirements to register residence permission will not arise until the registration offices re-open or alternative arrangements are put in place.

It is confirmed that a non national can present evidence of their last residence permission, in the form of a formal decision letter and/or the IRP card, together with a copy of the Notice, as evidence of their ongoing permission to remain in the State.

A list of frequently asked questions and responses is provided.

The notice can be accessed at the below link:

http://www.inis.gov.ie/en/INIS/frequently-asked-questions-immigration-permission-covid-19-temporary-measures.pdf/Files/frequently-asked-questions-immigration-permission-covid-19-temporary-measures.pdf

Berkeley Solicitors

NOTICE REGARDING RE-OPENING OF BERKELEY SOLICITORS

Berkeley Solicitors has reopened on the 30th March 2020, following a temporary closure of the office due to the Covid 19 crisis.

On the 29th March 2020, the government directed all residents to stay at home for a 14 day period, with some limited exceptions, in a national effort to restrict the spread of the  Covid 19 virus.

It is therefore not possible for Berkeley Solicitors to return to business as normal during this 14 day period, until at least the 12th April 2020.

We are instead returning to work in a limited capacity,  with a some changes to our procedures to ensure the safety and protection of our staff and clients.

Our phone lines will be open from 9 am to 12 midday, Monday to Friday. If you wish to contact us outside of these times, please email us and we will revert as soon as possible.

We are no longer arranging consultations in our office in person. All consultations are to be arranged by telephone, Skype or Zoom only.

All documents must be provided to the office electronically in PDF files.

We ask that clients do not call to the office in person to speak with their solicitor, as the solicitors will keep in contact with clients in the normal way by email and phone.

Any payments to be made to the office must be by electronic bank transfer only.

Please note that these new procedures are temporary based on the current exceptional circumstances, and we look forward to returning to work as normal on or after the 12th April next.

We will continue to update you on the development’s in this regard.

We thank you for your patience and support in complying with our new temporary procedures.

Best wishes,

Berkeley Solicitors

ANNOUNCEMENT REGARDING SUSPENSION OF NORMAL VISA APPLICATION PROCEDURE DUE TO COVID 19 PRECAUTIONS

ANNOUNCEMENT REGARDING SUSPENSION OF NORMAL VISA APPLICATION PROCEDURE DUE TO COVID 19 PRECAUTIONS

 

On the 21st March 2020, the Immigration Service Delivery (formerly INIS) announced the temporary suspension of the normal visa application procedures.

This suspension is due to commence on the 20th March 2020, and applies to all new visa applications.

The Department has further stated as follows:

While it will still be possible to apply for an Irish visa online in the normal manner, these temporary measures mean that applicants will not be able to complete their application process and we apologise for any inconvenience this might cause. Please note that any application made online will remain valid until such time as restrictions are lifted.

We intend to resume accepting applications as soon as safety concerns abate. Certain Priority/Emergency cases will continue to be processed and these include the following:

  • Emergency visa (e.g. Healthcare professionals, health researchers, and elderly care professionals;
  • Immediate family members of Irish citizens, persons legally resident in the State and Persons entitled to avail of the provision of the EU Free Movement Directive.

If your application falls into one of these categories, you can apply on-line in the usual way. Once you’ve completed the on-line application, you should follow the instructions given on the summary page as to where you should submit your application.

 

The full announcement can be viewed here:

http://www.inis.gov.ie/en/INIS/Pages/Home

Please note to all concerned clients, this suspension does not apply to any visa application submitted before the 20th March 2020.

 

Please further note that many visa applications will continue to be processed, including the “Immediate family members of Irish citizens, persons legally resident in the State and Persons entitled to avail of the provision of the EU Free Movement Directive.

 

Please send all queries regarding visa applications to us as normal and we will advise when the office re opens.

 

Berkeley Solicitors

COVID-19 AND INIS REGISTRATION REQUIREMENTS

On the 13th March 2020, the EU Treaty Rights Section have announced the following new measures;

In response to Government measures to ensure public health and safety in light of COVID-19, EU Treaty Rights Division of Immigration Service Delivery wishes to advise of the following arrangements with immediate effect.

  1. If you are the holder of a valid EUFam Residence card (including a Permanent Residence Card) that is due to expire between now and the 29th March 2020, your permission will be extended automatically until Monday 27th April 2020.
  2. If you are currently the holder of a valid temporary permission granted pending a decision on your EU Treaty Rights application (including a review application) and that permission is due to expire between now and the 29th March 2020, your permission will be extended automatically until Monday 27th April 2020.
  3. If you have recently made a Residence Card application and have not yet heard from EU Treaty Rights Division in this regard, and the permission granted on entry to the State is due to expire on or before 29th March 2020, this permission will be extended automatically until Monday 27th April 2020.

You do not need to contact EU Treaty Rights Division during this period to request an extension of your residence card or permission.

Due to the uncertainty of the situation, delays may occur.  Further updates will be provided in due course.

 

See link below:

 

http://www.inis.gov.ie/en/INIS/Pages/EU+Treaty+Rights

 

This exceptional measure to automatically extend EU Treaty Rights residence permissions until the 27th April 2020 is a welcome and necessary measure.

 

However, no such announcement has been made in respect of the automatic extensions of residence permissions issued under Irish law.  In fact, it has been confirmed that the Burgh Quay registration office will proceed as normal, with some minor changes;

 

Registration of immigration permissions at Burgh Quay will proceed as normal using a streamlined process designed to minimise the amount of time applicants need to spend in the office. In that regard, applicants must not bring family members or friends with them for registration, unless required to do so as part of the verification process, as this increases overall risks;

 

http://www.inis.gov.ie/en/INIS/Pages/updated-measures-to-respond-to-COVID-19-from-the-Immigration-Service-Delivery-Function-of-the-Department-Justice-and-Equality

Thus, many non-nationals are currently still required to attend the Burgh Quay Registration Office in person to extend their permission in circumstances, most likely in breach of the current guidelines regarding the Covid19 Crisis.

We would appeal to the Minister to urgently issue updated guidelines for all non-nationals to obtain automatic extensions of their permissions in these exceptional times.

 

Berkeley Solicitors

COURT OF APPEAL JUDGMENT ON MEMBERSHIP OF THE SAME HOUSEHOLD IN EU TREATY RIGHTS CASES

On the 19th December 2019, the Court of Appeal delivered its judgment in the case of Subhan and Ali v the Minister for Justice and Equality, in which Berkeley Solicitors acted for the Applicants.

The decision is significant for family members of EU citizens who have applications, or are considering making applications, for visas or residence cards based on the fact that they are members of the same household of an EU citizen family member under Directive 2004/38/EC on the Right of Citizens of the Union and Their Family Members to Move and Reside Freely Within the Territory of the Member States, (‘the Citizens Directive’).

The case concerned the refusal of an EU Fam residence card to the cousin of a British citizen, who had lived as the member of his household for many years in the United Kingdom prior to moving to Ireland.

The central issue before the Court of Appeal was the meaning of the term ‘household of the Union Citizen’  for the purposes of the Citizens’ Directive.

The Applicants argued that the household of the Union citizen consists of those persons who are family members and who reside in the same dwelling as the Union citizen. The Respondent argued that what is to be established is that the household concerned is that of the Union citizen, and that the centrality of the Union citizen in the family living arrangements is to be assessed.

The Applicants also put forward submissions regarding other language versions of the term ‘membership of the same household’ and found that there was no ‘head of the household’  test in those versions.

Ms Justice Baker ultimately upheld the decision of the High Court in finding that the criterion of ‘membership of the same household’ is not simply established where family members live under the same roof. Rather, members of the household of the Union citizen must be those persons who are some way central to the family life of the Union citizen.

The Court held:

“68. It may be more useful to consider the notion of household by reference to what it is not. Persons living under the same roof are not necessarily members of the same household and they may well be what we colloquially call housemates. An element of sharing that is necessary in a household may well be met in that the persons living together may agree on a distribution of household tasks and a proportionate contribution towards household expenses. But because, for the purpose of the Citizens Directive, one must focus on the living arrangements of the Union citizen, the members of the household of the Union citizen must, on the facts, be persons who are in some way central to his or her family life, that those family members are an integral part of the core family life of the Union citizen, and are envisaged to continue to be such for the foreseeable or reasonably foreseeable future. The defining characteristic is that the members of the group intend co-living arrangement to continue indefinitely, that the link has become the norm and is envisaged as ongoing and is part of the fabric of the personal life of each of them.

69. It is not a test of with whom the Union citizen would choose to live, but rather, with whom he or she expects to be permitted or facilitated to live in order that his or her family unit would continue in being, and the loss of whom in the family unit is a material factor that might impede the Union citizen choosing to or being able to exercise free movement rights. That second element, it seems to me, properly reflects the core principle intended to be protected by the Citizens Directive.

70. It may be dangerous to give an example, and I do so by way of illustration only. A family member who had resided in the same house as a Union citizen for many years before free movement rights were exercised might well have become a member of the family with whom there has developed a degree of emotional closeness such that the person is integral to the family life of the Union citizen. That person could be a member of a household because the living arrangements display connecting factors that might, in an individual case, be termed a “household”. If the rights of free movement of a Union citizen within the group are likely to be impaired by the fact of that living arrangement, whether for reasons of the moral duty owed to the other members of the group or otherwise, then the rights under the Citizens Directive fall for consideration.”

The Court found that the EU Citizen’s Free Movement rights where not impeded or restricted by refusing a right of residence to his family member in this case.

The full judgment has been published on the website of the courts and can be found here.