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RECENT IMMIGATION UPDATES

Important information for residents of  South Africa, Botswana, Eswatini and Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia

In a notice published on the 22nd December 2021 on the webpage of the Embassy of Ireland, South Africa  it is stated that With effect from 00.01 on Wednesday, 22nd December 2021, nationals of Botswana, Eswatini Lesotho and South Africa are no longer entry visa required and nationals of Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia and South Africa are no longer transit visa required.

https://www.dfa.ie/irish-embassy/south-africa/

There is no such notice on the Home Page of the Immigration Service Delivery, however the list of visa and non-visa required nationals has been updated to reflect this change.

http://www.irishimmigration.ie/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/Immigration-Service-Delivery-Visa-and-Non-Visa-Required-Countries.pdf

 

Deadline to Apply for Withdrawal Agreement Beneficiaries Card extended:

The Minister has extended the deadline to apply for a Withdrawal Agreement Beneficiaries from 31st December 2020 to the 30th June 2022. It is important that any Non-EEA family member of a British citizen who is currently resident in the State on foot of an EU Fam residence card applies to exchange their residence card for a  Withdrawal Agreement Beneficiaries without delay. It is also open to British citizens themselves to apply for this recognition as well.

The full notice can be found below:

https://www.irishimmigration.ie/extension-of-date-for-non-eea-family-members-of-uk-nationals-residing-in-ireland-before-the-end-of-the-transition-period-on-31-december-2020-to-apply-for-a-residence-document-under-the-withdrawal-agre/

NEW ENTRY AND TRANSIT VISA REQUIREMENTS FOR CERTAIN AFRICAN COUNTRIES AMENDED

We refer to our previous blog on 30th November 2021:

https://berkeleysolicitors.ie/new-entry-and-transit-visa-requirements-for-certain-african-countries-announced/

The Minister for Justice has amended the  entry visa and transit visa requirements for nationals of South Africa, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho  and Namibia.

The priority categories for which visa applications will be accepted and processed  has been amended and severely reduced to the following:

  • has obtained or is entitled to apply for a right of residence under EU Free Movement;
  • has a valid Residence Permission in the State under the immigration Acts (including persons covered by the interim arrangements that apply from 15 November 2021 to 15 January 2021
  • is a family member of an Irish citizen
  • has not been in one of the following countries (South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique, and Zimbabwe) in the previous 14 days prior to the date of travel to the State;
  • is a diplomat and to whom the privileges and immunities conferred by an international agreement or arrangement or customary international law apply in the State, pursuant to the Diplomatic Relations and Immunities Acts 1967 to 2006 or any other enactment or the Constitution.

This is severely reduced from the previous notice, which included employment permit holders and all join family visa applications.

Affected persons  should also take note of the Minister’s note of caution that further changes may take place at short notice.

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

 

MINISTER FOR JUSTICE ANNOUNCES NEW REGULARISATION SCHEME FOR LONG-TERM UNDOCUMENTED MIGRANTS

On 3rd December 2021, the Minister for Justice announced a new scheme which will enable many undocumented migrants to apply to regularise their residency status.

The scheme will open for online applications in January 2022 and applications will be accepted for six months.

The scheme will include those who do not have a current permission to reside in Ireland, whether they arrived illegally or whether their permission expired or was withdrawn years ago.

In order to be eligible, applicants must have been undocumented for a period of four years, or three years in the case of those with dependent children.

According to a briefing session with Department of Justice officials held on 2nd December  2021, a short period of absence from the State in the undocumented period for those who would otherwise qualify will be disregarded. This will be limited to a max of 60 days absence from the State and the documented period arising from the short-term tourist permission (up to 90 days).

Applicants must meet standards regarding good character, though having convictions for minor offences will not, of itself, result in disqualification.

There will be no requirement for applicants to demonstrate that they would not be a financial burden on the State, as the scheme is aimed at those who may be economically and socially marginalised as a result of their undocumented status.

The scheme will also be open to individuals with expired student permission, those who have been issued with a section 3 notice under the Immigration Act 1999, and those who have received deportation orders.

The scheme is also expected to include international protection applicants who have been in the asylum process for a minimum of 2 years, though full details on this are yet to be announced.

There will be an application fee of €700 for family unit applications, while a fee of €550 will apply to individuals’ applications. Children up to 23 years, living with their parent(s), can be included in a family unit application.

Successful applicants will be granted residence permission which will allow access to the labour market and will provide a pathway to Irish citizenship.

Announcing the scheme, the Minister for Justice Helen McEntee stated:

“I’m delighted that the Government has approved my proposal for this momentous, once-in-a-generation scheme.

Given that those who will benefit from this scheme currently live in the shadows, it is difficult to say how many will be eligible, but we are opening this scheme for six months from January to allow people come forward and regularise their status.

It will bring some much-needed certainty and peace of mind to thousands of people who are already living here and making a valuable contribution to our society and the economy, many of whom may be very vulnerable due to their current immigration circumstances.”

As a result, they may be reluctant to seek medical assistance when ill, assistance from An Garda Síochána when they are the victim of a crime, or a range of other supports designed to assist vulnerable people in their times of need.”

I believe that in opening this scheme, we are demonstrating the same goodwill and generosity of spirit that we ask is shown to the countless Irish people who left this island to build their lives elsewhere.”

The full announcement can be read here.

Studies suggest that there are 17,000 undocumented persons in the State, including up to 3,000 children.

Berkeley Solicitors welcomes the announcement of this scheme, which will allow many undocumented migrants to come forward and apply to regularise their status.

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

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

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

The successful applicants have been invited to attend a citizenship ceremony on Monday 13th December 2021, the first in-person ceremony in many months due to Covid-19 restrictions.

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

If you or a family member have queries about the naturalisation process, please do not hesitate to contact our office.

BERKELEY SOLICITORS VOTED ONE OF IRELAND’S BEST LAW FIRMS 2022

Berkeley Solicitors are delighted to have been voted one of the best law firms in Ireland for 2022 in the category of Human Rights and Immigration.

The list of Ireland’s best law firms for 2022 was published by the Irish Independent following a peer-to-peer survey of more than 1000 legal professionals.

The full list of firms can be found at:

https://www.independent.ie/business/irelands-best-law-firms/irelands-best-law-firms-2022-full-list-41020380.html

Berkeley solicitors would like to thank our clients and colleagues for their support and we look forward to working with you in 2022.

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.

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.