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MINISTER FOR JUSTICE ANNOUNCES BURGH QUAY REGISTRATION OFFICE TO REOPEN AND EXPANSION OF ONLINE REGISTRATION RENEWAL SYSTEM

On 7th July 2020 the Minister for Justice, Helen McEntee, announced that the Online Renewal system for immigration permissions will be expanded to allow all Dublin based non-nationals to apply online to renew their immigration registration.

It is expected that this will make the renewal process easier for thousands of people every year, and significantly reduce the number of people who need to attend the Burgh Quay Registration Office in person.

The online system will be made available from 7th July 2020 for those with an urgent need to travel and who require an Immigration Residence Permit (IRP) card before they travel.

Making the announcement, the Minister stated:

“I’m very pleased to be able to announce the expansion of our online Registration Renewal System. This is good news for our Dublin based customers because it makes the whole process easier and means they can do their renewal from the comfort of their own home instead of having to book an appointment to come into the city and attend Burgh Quay. 

 Now, all that applicants have to do is complete a form online, upload supporting documents, pay the fee and then submit their passport and current IRP card via registered post. This is much easier and quicker than the previous system, where it could sometimes be difficult to get an appointment.” 

The Minister also announced that the Burgh Quay Registration Office will reopen on 20th July 2020 for first time registration. As first-time registrations require biometrics to be taken, it is not possible to for these to be done online.

Individuals who had their first-time registration appointments cancelled when the Burgh Quay office closed in March due to Covid-19 restrictions will be prioritised once the office reopens. The Immigration Service Delivery will be contacting those affected to organise new appointments.

The full announcement can be read here.

If you or a family member have queries about your immigration permission, please do not hesitate to contact our office.

IMMIGRATION SERVICE DELIVERY ANNOUNCES POLICY CHANGE ON EXTENSION OF ENTRY VISAS DUE TO COVID-19

The Immigration Service Delivery has issued an updated set of frequently asked questions in relation to Covid-19 and its effects on immigration services in the State.

The document now states that individuals who were recently issued  D category entry visas (prior to 15th March 2020) and who were unable to travel to Ireland during the validity dates of their visa as a result of Covid-19 restrictions, may now apply to amend dates on the approved visa.

The previous position of the Immigration Service Delivery was that such individuals would have to submit new visa applications in the event that they could not travel to Ireland within the validity dates of their visa.

The relevant section states as follows:

“Q 5. What facility will be put in place if I am currently outside Ireland and was recently granted a C or D entry visa for Ireland but I am now unable to come to Ireland during the validity period of my entry visa due to travel restrictions? Can my entry visa be extended or will I have to submit a new visa application?

A. In the case of Long Stay visas issued prior to 15th March 2020 where an applicant was not in a position to travel to Ireland because of the COVID-19 situation, it may be possible to amend the dates on the approved visa. Once we resume accepting visa applications, you should contact the Irish Embassy or Consulate that issued the visa to you.

In the case of Employment/Volunteer/Minister of Religion/Study visas, you should be able to show the Embassy that the reason for your travel to Ireland still applies, before consideration could be given to amending the visa that was issued to you.

Anyone who was issued a Short Stay visa during the same period but was similarly unable to travel to Ireland because of the COVID-19 situation will need to make a new visa application when normal visa processing resumes. However, depending on the period of time that has passed and the circumstances of the particular case, if you decide to re-apply we will consider waiving the fee for the new application.”

Given the long processing times for new visa applications, we at Berkeley Solicitors welcome this development.

The full document can be read here.

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

POSSIBILITY OF GRANTING LEGAL STATUS TO UNDOCUMENTED MIGRANTS DISCUSSED AT GOVERNMENT TALKS

The Irish Independent has reported that a proposed scheme to regularise the status of undocumented migrants in Ireland has been discussed as part of Government formation talks between Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Green Party.

According to the article, published by the Irish Independent on 21st May 2020, the parties are in talks to establish a scheme that would allow undocumented migrants in Ireland to apply to regularise their status. The parties proposed that the criteria for such a scheme would be set out within 18 months of the new Government taking office.

At present there has been no final agreement on this scheme and any developments on this matter would be dependent on Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Green Party forming a coalition Government together.

It is estimated that there are currently 15,000-17,000 undocumented people living in Ireland, approximately 2,000 to 3,000 of whom are thought to be children. The Migrant Rights Centre Ireland (MRCI) states that 93% of undocumented migrants are in work, including as many as 29% who work as carers.  The Covid-19 pandemic has also highlighted that many undocumented migrants are employed as key essential workers, working in difficult and challenging situations to keep the country going during this ongoing crisis.

We at Berkeley Solicitors would fully support the implementation of a scheme to regularise the status of undocumented migrants and will publish any future developments on this on our website.

The full article can be read here.

If you or a family member have any queries about your immigration status, please contact our office.

DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE ANNOUNCES TEMPORARY ARRANGEMENTS FOR THOSE AWAITING FIRST TIME REGISTRATION

The Department of Justice has announced that anyone who is present in the State with a current, valid permission to remain and is still awaiting their first registration, can now make an electronic application to the Registration Office to request a letter confirming their permission to remain in the State and the conditions attached.

This is a temporary measure which will apply from now until the 20th July 2020.

The notice, published on 21st May 2020, states as follows:

“In light of the uncertainties caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and the difficulties some people can encounter due to not having an IRP card, as a temporary measure between now and 20th July 2020, anyone in the State awaiting their first registration, and who has a current, valid permission to remain, but does not have a current permission letter can apply to the Registration Office to request a letter confirming their permission to remain in the State and the conditions attached. 

For international English Language Students, the extension means that they may continue to work if they wish, but must be enrolled in a course of study to adhere to the conditions of their permission.  

All required documentation (see website for details) should be scanned and included in the application email. All eligibility criteria will continue to apply. 

Applications may be submitted electronically to the Registration Office, Burgh Quay, Dublin (bqregofficeapplications@justice.ie)”

The full notice can be accessed here.

If you or a family member are affected by this notice, please contact our office to discuss.

DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE ANNOUNCES FURTHER EXTENSION OF IMMIGRATION PERMISSIONS

The Department of Justice has announced an additional two-month extension of immigration permissions due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

This temporary extension applies to the following categories:

  • Persons with immigration permissions due to expire between 20th May 2020 and 20th July 2020, including those that were already extended under the previous notice issued on 20th March 2020;
  • Persons awaiting their first registration, having been granted permission to land at a port of entry on condition they register at Burgh Quay or their local registration office within 3 months, but who have not yet done so;
  • Persons resident in Ireland on the basis of Short Stay visas.

The notice confirms that the permissions will be automatically renewed for a two-month period, on the same basis as the existing permission and subject to the same conditions.

The notice also clarifies that international English Language Students can continue to work if they wish but that they must also re-enrol in an online course of study to adhere to the conditions of their permission.

The registration office in Burgh Quay in Dublin will remain closed and will only reopen when it is safe to do so. The normal requirements to register residence permission will not arise until the registration offices can reopen or alternative arrangements are put in place.

Non-nationals 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.

The notice can be accessed here.

If you or a family member are affected by this notice, please contact our office to discuss.

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.

HIGH COURT DECISION ON REFUSAL OF EMPLOYMENT PERMIT FOR TRAINEE ACCOUNTANT

On 25th March 2020, Mr Justice Heslin delivered his judgment in Julia Olivera Rodriguez v The Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation.

This case concerned a Venezuelan national with a BSc. Degree in Public Accounting from Venezuela and a Certificate in Business Accounting which she obtained in Ireland through the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants in May 2018.

Ms Rodriguez’s application for an Employment Permit for the role of Trainee Accountant was refused by the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation on the basis that the position of Trainee Accountant does not fall within the list of eligible categories of employment, as set out in the Employment Permits Regulations, 2017.

Ms Rodriguez challenged this decision in the High Court, arguing that the Minister had been incorrect in this finding and that the role of ‘Accountant’ should be interpreted to include those training for the position, as is the case in the UK.

Mr Justice Heslin in his decision stated:

“I am entirely satisfied that the 2017 Regulations cannot be interpreted in the manner in which the applicant contends. Doing so would involve this Court importing into the 2017 Regulations words which are simply not there and also ignoring the plain meaning of words which incontrovertibly appear in the 2017 Regulations.”

Mr Justice Heslin stated that the regulations very clearly set out employments of which there is a shortage and which are required for the proper functioning of the economy, including Accountants and Tax Consultants with particular specialisms and specified experience:

“Schedule 3 of the 2017 Regulations very clearly sets out those employments in respect of which there is a shortage in relation to “qualifications, experience or skills” required for the proper functioning of the economy and these include “Chartered and Certified Accountants” with particular specialisms, “Qualified Accountants” with particular experience and “Tax Consultants” with specified experience. As a matter of fact, the applicant falls into none of the categories specified in Schedule 3. For this Court to hold that she does, would be to do violence to the specific words used in Schedule 3 and would amount to this Court deciding, impermissibly, that someone who is unqualified comes within a category which explicitly addresses shortages in “qualifications”. This Court has no power to ignore the clear wording in Schedule 3 of the 2017 Regulations and to hold that shortages in the qualifications set out in Schedule 3 are met by unqualified persons.”

The court found that Ms Rodriguez does not fall within any of these categories and the decision to refuse her application for an Employment Permit was upheld.

The full text of the judgment can be found here.

If you would like more information on the application process for Employment Permits in Ireland, please do not hesitate to contact our office.

UK GOVERNMENT PUBLISHES DRAFT IMMIGRATION BILL GUARANTEEING RIGHT OF IRISH CITIZENS TO LIVE AND WORK IN THE UK POST BREXIT

Last month, the UK Government published the Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill, which provides the legislative basis for ending EU free movement arrangements in the UK once the Brexit transition period has expired.

The Bill aims to retain the Common Travel Area rights of Irish citizens to live and work in the UK without restrictions. Section 2 of the Bill provides that “an Irish citizen does not require leave to enter or remain in the United Kingdom”. Exceptions to this include the possibility to deport Irish citizens for serious criminal offences.

The British Immigration Minister Kevin Foster has stated that the Bill “provides certainty and clarity for Irish citizens on their rights to enter and live in the UK, reflecting the reciprocal arrangements for British citizens in Ireland.”

In practice, the Bill will ensure that there is no change to free movement between Ireland and the UK for Irish citizens. This follows repeated assurances from both the Irish and UK governments that the Common Travel Area, which has been in place since 1922, will remain valid post-Brexit.

However, in its current form, the Bill does not provide Irish citizens with any right to have family members reside with them, unlike EU free movement law.

Other EU citizens may require visas to enter and reside in the UK from as early as 2021. The UK Home Office has announced its intention to introduce a points-based immigration system for both EU and non-EU citizens.

At present, these proposals are at a very early stage and are subject to change as the Bill moves through the legislative process. Members of Parliament are scheduled to consider the Bill for a second reading on Tuesday 21 April 2020.

The full text of the Bill can be found here.

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

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