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;
- 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:
- 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)
- 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)