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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.

 

MINISTER FOR JUSTICE PUBLISHES UPDATE ON THE PROCESSING OF NEW VISA APPLICATIONS FOR IMPERATIVE FAMILY REASONS

As of 29th January 2021, the Department of Justice has ceased accepting the majority of new visa/preclearance applications due to Covid-19, with the exception of a number of Priority/Emergency categories of visas.

The Priority/Emergency category includes persons travelling for imperative family reasons.

The Minister for Justice has published an update providing clarity on the meaning of imperative family reasons for the purpose of new visa applications.

In a notice dated 6th April 2021, it is stated that:

“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 but do not include the following: missing a loved one; wanting to attend a birth; or wanting to attend a wedding or a milestone birthday. Please note that this list of examples is not exhaustive and whether your application meets the criteria or not is determined by examining the circumstances and supporting documentation of each case on an individual basis.”

The full notice can be read here.

If you or a family member have any queries about applying for a visa to Ireland, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

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.