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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.

FAMILY MEMBERS OF HEALTHCARE WORKERS EXCLUDED FROM PRIORITY EXCEPTIONS TO THE TEMPORARY SUSPENSION OF VISA APPLICATIONS

Irish healthcare workers have shared their experiences of being on the frontline during this Covid-19 Pandemic in a recently published Irish Times Article.

Particularly worrying to us here at Berkeley Solicitors, was the experience of the Medical Registrar in the State during Covid-19.

The medical registrar details that neither he nor his wife, who is also frontline staff as a doctor in a HSE hospital, have family here in Ireland and that visa applications for his parents to join the family in the State were recently refused by INIS.

Healthcare staff around Ireland are working tirelessly in hospitals and other healthcare settings. The doctor discloses that he and his wife are currently rostered between 84 to 91 hours a week. This, coupled with the fact that they have a 10 month old son who can no longer attend his creche, means that this family is being placed under an extraordinary amount of pressure, urgently needing the help and support of close family members during this pandemic.

On 21st March 2020, the Immigration Service Delivery (formerly INIS) announced that specific priority/emergency cases would be accepted as an exception to the temporary suspension of visa application procedures.

Visa applications made by family members of healthcare professionals in Ireland are not included as priority/emergency cases at this time.

We have previously voiced concerns on the closure of a number of Embassies, Consulates and VFS Global Ireland which has raised a huge amount of uncertainty on the process of applying for these emergency visas.

We would also question the Department’s policy of prohibiting family members of healthcare workers, such as the parents of doctors in Ireland or other close family members of medical professionals, to apply for visas to travel to the State.

Medical professionals are being called on to put their work and the lives of individuals all around Ireland ahead of the safety and well-being of their own families and as highlighted in this article, are doing so without proper or appropriate child care or the support of their family.

Unfortunately, this situation is likely to resonate with a large number of families and individuals resident in Ireland.

We would call on the Department to consider the needs of healthcare workers during this time and recognise the difficulties healthcare workers are facing by not having familial support systems in the State during the Covid-19 pandemic.

If you or any family member are affected by this issue, Berkeley Solicitors would be happy to further advise any medical practitioners who might require support of their family members during the crisis and wish to have their family members in the State with them.

IMMIGRATION APPLICATIONS CAN BE SUBMITTED ELECTRONICALLY UNTIL 20TH MAY 2020

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

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

Berkeley Solicitors

VISA APPLICATIONS DURING THE COVID-19 CRISIS

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

The Embassy of Ireland in Moscow has confirmed as follows:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Berkeley Solicitors

NOTICE REGARDING RE-OPENING OF BERKELEY SOLICITORS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Best wishes,

Berkeley Solicitors

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

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

 

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

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

The Department has further stated as follows:

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

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

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

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

 

The full announcement can be viewed here:

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

Berkeley Solicitors

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

SOCIAL DEPENDENCY IN EU TREATY RIGHTS CASES

Applications for visas and residence cards for family members of EU citizens pursuant to EU Treaty Rights often require proof that the Applicant is dependent on their EU Citizen family member.

The concept of dependency is not defined in the Citizens’ Rights Directive (Directive 2004/38/EC) or the European Communities (Free Movement of Persons) Regulations 2015. However, case law of the Court of Justice of the EU has established that an Applicant must show that they are not in a position to support themselves, having regard to their financial and social conditions.

Thus, while dependency is often assessed in terms of the existence of financial support between the Applicant and the EU Citizen, it can also arise from social, emotional and medical circumstances.

Several recent judgments of the High Court have shed some light on the importance of social dependency in EU Treaty Rights cases.

The case of Chittajallu v The Minister for Justice and Equality, Record Number 2019/28, in which Berkeley Solicitors were acting for the Applicant, involved a British citizen who submitted a visa application for her dependent mother.

In his judgment delivered on 11th July 2019, Mr Justice Barrett highlighted that the Minister had not properly considered the issue of social dependency arising from the Applicant’s medical circumstances in the initial decision.

Berkeley Solicitors also acted for the Applicant in the case of Agha v The Minister for Justice and Equality, Record Number 2019/374, the facts of which similarly involved a British citizen who applied for a visa for his elderly dependent mother who had serious health issues and was not capable of living independently.

In his judgment of 23rd December 2019, Mr Justice Barrett states at paragraph 6:

“There is a further separate error presenting in this regard, viz. that, in breach of European Union law, the Minister did not have any regard to the particular illness of Mr Agha’s mother and how this impacted on dependence…

As is clear from Jia, at para. 37 (as touched upon in Chittajallu v. Minister for Justice & Equality [2019] IEHC 521, at para. 4): “in order to determine whether the relatives in the ascending line…are dependent…the host Member State must assess, whether, having regard to their financial and social conditions, they are not in a position to support themselves” [Emphasis added]. No such analysis was not undertaken here…”

It is clear from the above High Court decisions that a failure to take into account an Applicant’s social dependency on the EU citizen constitutes a breach of EU law. An analysis of the Applicant’s financial dependency alone will not be sufficient.

In both of the above cases, the Court ruled that the initial refusal was unlawful and remitted the matter to the Minister for fresh consideration.

This is a positive development for family members who are dependent on their EU Citizen family member for reasons other than, or in addition to, their financial circumstances.

Social dependency may arise from factors such as an Applicant’s medical circumstances or the nature of the social and emotional relationship between the Applicant and the EU Citizen.

If you or a family member wish to discuss an EU Treaty Rights application, please do not hesitate to contact our office.

The full judgments will be published shortly on the website of the courts, which can be found here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Court held:

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

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

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

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

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