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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.

NEW VISA AND PRECLEARANCE APPLICATIONS SUSPENDED

On 29th January 2021, a notice was posted on the Department of Justice website noting that the Minister for Justice had imposed several new measures with regard to travel to the State. The Notice stated that it is currently against the law for any person to travel within Ireland for non-essential purposes outside their 5km radius, and that:

“The strong advice therefore is that everyone, regardless of their nationality or visa/preclearance status, or where they started from, who cannot provide proof of an essential purpose to travel to or within Ireland, should not travel to Ireland.”

The notice states that from the 29th January 2021 the Department is temporarily ceasing the acceptance of new visa/preclearance applications. This notice states that any applications made online will remain valid but a decision will not be made on these applications until such time as restrictions have been lifted.

 “Increasing travel restrictions and the measures introduced as part of the Government’s efforts to interrupt the transmission of COVID-19 means that travel may not be possible and even if possible is not advisable unless absolutely essential.”

Priority or Emergency cases will continue to be processed online in the normal manner with specific instructions for submission detailed on the summary page, at the end of the application.

The full list of applications  currently falling within this category are as follows:

  • Workers or self-employed persons exercising critical occupations including healthcare workers, frontier and posted workers as well as seasonal workers as referred to in the Guidelines concerning the exercise of the free movement of workers during the COVID-19 outbreak;
  • transport workers or transport service providers, including drivers of freight vehicles carrying goods for use in the territory as well as those merely transiting;
  • patients travelling for imperative medical reasons;
  • pupils, students and trainees who travel abroad on a daily basis and Third-country nationals travelling for the purpose of 3rd level study;
  • persons travelling for imperative family or business reasons;
  • 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 list of priority/ emergency visa has been amended from the previous visa suspensions during last year.

Of particular note is the fact that applications for visas/ pre clearance submitted pursuant to Directive 2004/38/EC and the European Communities ( Free Movement of Persons) Regulation 2015 are not currently listed as priority and based on this published note alone  would appear to be suspended.

In addition to the above, the Minister signed an order imposing new visa requirements on passport holders from a number of South American countries and South Africa. The order came into effect at midnight on the 27th January 2021. In addition to the existing visa required countries, nationals of the following countries are now visa required nationals:

  • Argentina
  • Bolivia
  • Brazil
  • Chile
  • Colombia (transit visa now required – this country is already subject to entry visa requirements)
  • Ecuador (transit visa now required – this country is already subject to entry visa requirements)
  • Guyana
  • Paraguay
  • Peru (transit visa now required – this country is already subject to entry visa requirements)
  • South Africa
  • Suriname (transit visa now required – this country is already subject to entry visa requirements)
  • Uruguay

 

VISA SERVICES HAVE RESUMED FROM 22ND JUNE 2020

The Immigration Service Delivery, who process visa applications have confirmed that some visa services have resumed from the 22nd June 2020.

During this “initial resumption phase”, the ISD will be accepting Long Stay “D” visa applications which includes Study. This is in addition to the categories considered under the Priority/Emergency cases which include:

  • Emergency visa (e.g. Healthcare professionals, health researchers, and elderly care professionals);
  • Immediate family members of Irish citizens (who are returning to their ordinary place of residence in Ireland);
  • Persons legally resident in the State;
  • Persons entitled to avail of the provision of the EU Free Movement Directive;

This includes short stay visa application for the family members of EU nationals. However, the ISD have not yet resumed the issuance of short stay visas for non-essential travel.

The notice clarifies that in countries where it is not possible to resume visa services due to the differing restrictions which remain in place, the ISD intend to resume accepting applications as soon as it is possible to so.

Advice is given to contact the relevant Irish Embassy/Mission website for up to date information. Many embassies and VFS Global Services remain closed. Our office continues to work closely with our clients on a case by case basis to ensure that the submission of their visa application is facilitated.

This is a very encouraging development and if you or a family member have any queries about applying for an Irish visa, we would encourage anyone with queries to contact our office and we would be more than happy to advise.

The notice can be read in full here.