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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.

 

BERKELEY SOLICITORS CONGRATULATES THE SUCCESSFUL APPLICANT AND LEGAL TEAM INVOLVED IN RECENT JUDICIAL REVIEW CASE

Berkeley Solicitors offers its congratulations to the successful applicant and legal team involved in the recent judgement MAH v The Minister for Justice , delivered on 30th April 2021.

The case involves a Somalian national who was granted refugee status in Hungary after fleeing from violent threats she had received from a fundamentalist group.

After facing further violence in Hungary, the applicant arrived in Ireland in 2016, where she applied for permission to reside.

The applicant is a qualified doctor and volunteers as a translator for members of the Somalian community and also with the Irish Cancer Society. Her lack of legal status in Ireland meant that she was unable to work in the State.

In February 2020, a deportation order was issued to the applicant, which was the subject of the Judicial Review proceedings before the High Court.

It was argued on behalf of the applicant that returning her to Hungary would amount to inhumane and degrading treatment, in breach of Article 3 of the Convention of European Human Rights.

In the judgment of Ms Justice Burns it is referenced that the applicant’s rights were not sufficiently protected in Hungary and that the Hungarian government were hostile towards migrants.

Ms Justice Burns assessed the Respondent’s consideration under Section 3 of the Immigration Act 1999 as amended, and stated her findings as follows:

I am of the view that the Respondent incorrectly assessed the COI; failed to consider whether the presumption that her fundamental rights would be upheld in Hungary had been rebutted; and failed to properly consider the Applicant’s employment prospects pursuant to s. 3(6)(f) of the 1999 Act, the Respondent’s determination in respect of the Deportation Order is vitiated by these errors.

In granting the applicant the reliefs sought, Ms Justice Burns summarised that:

‘the founding architects of the system of international protection which is in place in Europe today, would be of the view that we, as a people, have badly failed the Applicant in this case.’

Berkeley solicitors welcomes this very fair and just decision and hopes that it will benefit both the applicant and other non-nationals within similar circumstances.

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.

 

SUSPENSION OF VISA AND PRECLEARANCE APPLICATIONS EXTENDED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE

The decision to temporarily suspend the processing of new visa and preclearance applications has been extended as of 5th May 2021.

In its notice, the Department of Justice stated that:

‘these measures will remain in place until further notice’ and that ‘the situation will continue to be reviewed in consultation with the relevant authorities in the coming weeks.’

Due to the level 5 restrictions, there are a limited number of applications currently being processed, including priority and emergency cases.

These cases include applications for essential workers, patients travelling for necessary medical treatment and persons travelling for urgent family reasons.

The notice also states that applications received before the 29th January will continue to be processed.

Applications for appeal are also being accepted and processed.

There is no indication of when the Department will recommence accepting new visa and preclearance applications.

The full announcement can be found at:

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

If this notice affects you or your family, please get in contact with Berkeley Solicitors to discuss your case

CONGRATULATIONS TO CLIENTS OF BERKELEY SOLICITORS WHO HAVE BEEN RECENTLY APPROVED FOR NATURALIZATION

Berkeley Solicitors offers congratulations to a number of our clients who have recently received approval on their naturalization applications.

This is very welcome news for our clients who have all been waiting in excess of two years to have their applications approved.

Covid-19 restrictions have resulted in delays for over 24,000 people awaiting approval for naturalization.

With in-person citizenship ceremonies not set to resume until December, the approved applicants can now sign a statutory declaration in the presence of a designated official.

In a letter, the Minister for Justice offered her ‘warmest congratulations’ to the approved applicants as they begin a new chapter in their lives as Irish citizens.

Berkeley Solicitors congratulates our clients on receiving this good news after a very long wait.

MINISTER FOR JUSTICE ANNOUNCES FURTHER EXTENSION OF IMMIGRATION PERMISSIONS

On 26th March 2021, the Minister for Justice Helen McEntee published a notice announcing a further temporary extension of immigration and international protection permissions. This extension applies to immigration and international protection permissions to reside in the State that are due to expire between 21st April 2021 and 20th September 2021.

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 20th of September 2021.

Any permission that was renewed by the previous notices and was due to expire between 21st April 2021 and 20th September 2021 is automatically renewed by this notice until 20th September 2021.

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 for Justice commented:

“As the COVID-19 situation continues to evolve, 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 further automatic extension to 20 September 2021 for anyone already holding a valid permission.

“This extension will benefit those who cannot get an appointment to register or renew an existing permission. However, I encourage anyone who can renew, particularly Dublin-based customers who can use the online system, to do so and not to wait until September.

The notice also confirms that the Registration Office in Burgh Quay remains closed due to Covid-19 restrictions. Persons who were issued with appointments for first time registrations will be contacted directly by the Immigration Service and they will be prioritised for appointments once the Public Office can safely reopen.

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.

MINISTER FOR JUSTICE ANNOUNCES CHANGES TO REQUIREMENTS FOR CHILDREN APPLYING FOR IRISH CITIZENSHIP

On 23rd March 2021, the Minister for Justice, Helen McEntee, announced that she will make it easier for children born here, whose parents are not Irish citizens and who are not entitled to citizenship at birth, to gain Irish citizenship themselves.

The current policy is that a child born in the State, but who is not entitled to citizenship by birth, needs to be resident in Ireland for five of the previous eight years before they can apply for citizenship.

Minister McEntee announced that she intends to reduce the residency requirements for such children from five years to three years.

These changes will be contained in the upcoming Civil Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2021, which is expected to be submitted to Government in the coming weeks.

Once this legislation comes into force, the number of years a minor must be resident in Ireland will now be two years out of the previous eight, in addition to the requirement to have one year’s continuous residence immediately prior to their citizenship application.

Announcing this step, the Minister for Justice commented:

“The granting of Irish citizenship is a privilege and an honour which is recognised by the thousands of people who apply every year. It is my hope that reducing the amount of time children of non-Irish nationals born in Ireland have to wait before being eligible for citizenship will provide comfort and reassurance to many families across the country.

 This amendment provides increased security for children where a parent subsequently falls out of permission as the child will be entitled to Irish citizenship and will therefore be an EU citizen with the right to remain in the State with a non-EEA national guardian or parent.

However, it will not broaden the categories of children who are entitled to citizenship and this amendment will only apply to the children of those parents who are legally resident in the State. Children born here to non-national parents who have three years prior residency will continue to be Irish citizens from birth.”

This is a welcome development which will allow children who are currently on a pathway to citizenship to attain this status at a much earlier stage.

The full announcement can be read here.

If you or a family member have any queries about applying for Irish citizenship, please contact our office.