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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 ([email protected]):

 

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

ANNOUNCEMENT REGARDING AUTOMATIC EXTENSION OF RESIDENCE PERMISSIONS FOR TWO MONTH PERIOD

On the 20thMarch 2020, the Immigration Service Delivery (formerly INIS) made an important announcement regarding the automatic extension of some non-national’s residence permissions.

The ISD confirmed that any residence permission due to expire between the 20th March 2020 and the 20th May 2020 will automatically be renewed for a two-month period.

This means non-nationals do not have to attend the registration offices in person to extend their permission in the usual way.

We refer to the full announcement which states as follows:

This notice applies to Immigration and International Protection permissions to reside in the State that are due to expire between 20/3/2020 and 20/5/2020.

In light of the uncertainties caused by the Coronavirus pandemic, COVID-19, the following Notice applies to all persons 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).

All such permissions that are due to expire from 20/3/2020 to 20/5/2020 are automatically renewed by the Minister for a period of 2 months. The renewal of permission is on the same basis as the existing permission and the same conditions attach. In relation to persons with existing permission under Directive 2004/38/EC (Free Movement Directive), the automatic renewal is subject to the requirement that the person is complying with the requirements of the Directive.

 

The full announcement can be viewed here:

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

This is a welcome development which will avoid unnecessary worry for those whose residence permissions are expiring during the current Covid 19 crisis.

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

RETROSPECTIVE AMENDMENT OF STAMP 2 A RESIDENCE PERMISSION TO STAMP 3 FOR SPOUSE OF PHD STUDENT, REPRESENTED BY BERKELEY SOLICITORS

Berkeley Solicitors has recently received a significant decision in which the Department of Justice and Equality has agreed to retrospectively amend Stamp 2A permission, incorrectly assigned to our client, to Stamp 3 immigration permission for a number of years.

Our client is the spouse of a PhD student here in Ireland. Our client was dependent on her husband and applied for a visa to Ireland.

She was initially issued Stamp 3 permission; however, she was then issued with stamp 2 A permission at all subsequent registrations.

Stamp 2 A is described as follows on the INIS website:

“Stamp 2 A indicates permission for full time study in Ireland for a course that is not on the official Interim List of Eligible Programmes (ILEP), for a specified period. Stamp 2 A is not reckonable as residence when applying for citizenship by naturalisation.

You may be given Stamp 2A in the following circumstances:

  • Semester abroad (ie at an Irish university/college)
  • Study at a private secondary school in Ireland”

The issuing of stamp 2 A to our client was contrary to the Minister’s policy to issue stamp 3 permission to the spouses of PHD students. Stamp 2 A was at no time appropriate to her circumstance. She had never been a student in the State, and has always resided here as the dependent of her husband.

The wrongful issuing of stamp 2 A permission deprived our client of a number of years of reckonable residence, which she was entitled to by way of the Minister’s policy.

When the couple had a baby, they intended to make an application for an Irish passport. However, in order to obtain Irish citizenship for a child born in Ireland after 1st January 2005, the child’s foreign national parent must be legally resident in Ireland (this includes Northern Ireland) for 3 out of 4 years immediately before the child was born in Ireland.

As Stamp 2 is not reckonable as residence towards citizenship by birth, our clients’ baby was being deprived Irish citizenship because of the Minister’s error to issue stamp 2 A to our client.

Our office applied to the Minister to rectify this mistake by retrospectively amending our client’s previous permissions from stamp 2 A to stamp 3, based on the fact that a mistake was made on each occasion that a Stamp 2 A permission was issued to her.

A decision was recently issued to our clients which confirmed that her permission was retrospectively amended to the appropriate stamp 3 permission spanning over a number of years, thereby rendering the couple’s child eligible for Irish citizenship by birth.

We are delighted for our clients to have resolved their immigration difficulties.

We also think this is an extremely important and highly positive precedent for others who may have been issued the wrong residence permissions and confirms that, if appropriate, the Department of Justice and Equality can back date residence permission retrospectively.

If you or a family member are affected by the issuance of inappropriate immigration permission please do not hesitate to contact our office.

WELCOME CHANGES TO IMMIGRATION PERMISSION FOR FAMILY MEMBERS OF CRITICAL SKILLS EMPLOYMENT PERMIT HOLDERS

The purpose of the Critical Skills Employment Permit Scheme is to attract highly skilled people to Ireland in key areas where skills shortages have been identified, mainly in the IT Sector. The Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) have recently announced an update on revised immigration arrangements for family members, spouses and partners of the holders of Critical Skills Employment Permits (CSEP).
The previous immigration requirement was that family members, spouses and partners of Critical Skills Employment Permits obtain their own Dependant /Partner/ Spouse Employment Permit from the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation (DBEI). Although more favourable conditions applied to the grant of these employment permits, this still amounted to an obstacle to access to the labour market and often delayed or hindered a person’s ability to work in the State.

From 6th March 2019, the INIS will now grant eligible spouses and de facto partners of CSEP holders’ permission to reside in the State on Stamp 1G Conditions, without the need to obtain a work permit from DBEI.

This change will affect the spouses and partners of non- EEA national CSEP holders in terms of their permissions in the State and their access to the labour market. In addition, the Policy change also applies to the partners and spouses of Researchers in the State on Hosting Agreements.

This policy change means that partners and spouses of CSEP holders no longer need to apply for and hold their own employment permit in order to work in the State. They will be eligible to work in the State on the basis of their own Stamp 1G permission.

The new procedure allows spouses or partners of CSEP holders currently resident in the State, to attend the INIS registration office at Burgh Quay. They will be issued a new Irish Residence Permit (IRP) on Stamp 1G. This will allow the registered person to access the labour market without acquiring a work permit.

There are no charges for those that present a valid IRP however if the current IRP is due for renewal, the normal registration of €300 will apply. If you wish to register under this new policy and you live outside of Dublin, you must attend your local Garda Registration Office.
In addition to this change in policy, from April 1st of 2019, INIS have also confirmed that there will be a new pre clearance procedure in place for non- EEA de facto partners and spouses of CSEP holders. Both visa and non-visa required nationals will now be required to seek permission to reside in the State as spouse or partner of a CSEP holder before arriving in the State. This new procedure is intended to reduce processing times and provide clarity with the new Stamp 1G conditions. The INIS have previously indicated their intention to operate such a pre clearance procedure in respect of many other family reunification applications from non-visa required persons. It will be interesting to see if this pre clearance procedure in respect of partners and spouses of CSEP holders is rolled out to other categories of family reunification.
Ultimately this new policy is intended to provide clearer conditions and more accessibility to the labour market for spouses and partners of CSEP holders. While there is now a necessity for non-EEA spouses and partners to go through a pre clearance procedure before entering the State, this has been introduced with the intention of a more streamlined application and registration process overall in respect of CSEP holder’s family members.

This change in policy is to be welcomed, it is our view that any restrictions on a person’s right to work and access the labour market should be removed from the Irish Immigration system. The Reform Stamp 3 campaign should be congratulated for their work in campaigning for this change.

Our office is currently working on many applications for change in immigration permission from Stamp 3 to Stamp 4 to allow our clients the right to work and earn a livelihood.