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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.

 

IMMIGRATION SERVICE DELIVERY ANNOUNCES POLICY CHANGE ON EXTENSION OF ENTRY VISAS DUE TO COVID-19

The Immigration Service Delivery has issued an updated set of frequently asked questions in relation to Covid-19 and its effects on immigration services in the State.

The document now states that individuals who were recently issued  D category entry visas (prior to 15th March 2020) and who were unable to travel to Ireland during the validity dates of their visa as a result of Covid-19 restrictions, may now apply to amend dates on the approved visa.

The previous position of the Immigration Service Delivery was that such individuals would have to submit new visa applications in the event that they could not travel to Ireland within the validity dates of their visa.

The relevant section states as follows:

“Q 5. What facility will be put in place if I am currently outside Ireland and was recently granted a C or D entry visa for Ireland but I am now unable to come to Ireland during the validity period of my entry visa due to travel restrictions? Can my entry visa be extended or will I have to submit a new visa application?

A. In the case of Long Stay visas issued prior to 15th March 2020 where an applicant was not in a position to travel to Ireland because of the COVID-19 situation, it may be possible to amend the dates on the approved visa. Once we resume accepting visa applications, you should contact the Irish Embassy or Consulate that issued the visa to you.

In the case of Employment/Volunteer/Minister of Religion/Study visas, you should be able to show the Embassy that the reason for your travel to Ireland still applies, before consideration could be given to amending the visa that was issued to you.

Anyone who was issued a Short Stay visa during the same period but was similarly unable to travel to Ireland because of the COVID-19 situation will need to make a new visa application when normal visa processing resumes. However, depending on the period of time that has passed and the circumstances of the particular case, if you decide to re-apply we will consider waiving the fee for the new application.”

Given the long processing times for new visa applications, we at Berkeley Solicitors welcome this development.

The full document can be read here.

If you have any queries about applying for an Irish visa, please do not hesitate to contact our office.

NO NEW VISA APPLICATIONS ACCEPTED BY INIS SINCE MARCH 2020

RTÉ News has reported that the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service has not accepted any new visa applications as of 20th March 2020 due to Covid-19.

A spokesperson from the Department of Justice was quoted as saying:

“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. However, any application made online will remain valid until such time as restrictions are lifted.”

VFS Global, which provides a wide range of visa-related services, has also closed many of its Visa Application Centres.

The VFS website states that Ireland has suspended visa services globally as of 23rd March 2020.

This is despite the fact that a limited category of “Priority/Emergency” visas are still being processed, as outlined in INIS notice issued on 21st March 2020. These include 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, and persons entitled to avail of the provisions of the EU Free Movement Directive.

In instances where the local Consulate or Embassy is unable to process visa applications falling within these categories due to local Covid-19 restrictions, the Department has arranged to accept visa applications in its Dublin Visa Office.

RTÉ News questioned whether the decision to cease accepting new visa applications since March 2020 was allowing any backlog of applications to be cleared, and asked the Department of Justice to clarify what the situation is today.

The Department responded:

“…it is not possible to state a total number of employment visa applications on hand at a specific point in time, be it December or now. This is because of the fact that visas are received and processed throughout our network of missions globally and not just at the office here in Dublin.”

The spokesperson for the Department also stated that the intention is to resume accepting visa applications as soon as it is safe to do so.

The article can be read in full here.

If you or a family member have any queries about applying for an Irish visa, please do not hesitate to contact our office.

DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE ANNOUNCES FURTHER EXTENSION OF IMMIGRATION PERMISSIONS

The Department of Justice has announced an additional two-month extension of immigration permissions due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

This temporary extension applies to the following categories:

  • Persons with immigration permissions due to expire between 20th May 2020 and 20th July 2020, including those that were already extended under the previous notice issued on 20th March 2020;
  • Persons awaiting their first registration, having been granted permission to land at a port of entry on condition they register at Burgh Quay or their local registration office within 3 months, but who have not yet done so;
  • Persons resident in Ireland on the basis of Short Stay visas.

The notice confirms that the permissions will be automatically renewed for a two-month period, on the same basis as the existing permission and subject to the same conditions.

The notice also clarifies that international English Language Students can continue to work if they wish but that they must also re-enrol in an online course of study to adhere to the conditions of their permission.

The registration office in Burgh Quay in Dublin will remain closed and will only reopen when it is safe to do so. The normal requirements to register residence permission will not arise until the registration offices can reopen or alternative arrangements are put in place.

Non-nationals can present evidence of their last residence permission, in the form of a formal decision letter and/or the IRP card, together with a copy of the Notice, as evidence of their ongoing permission to remain in the State.

The notice can be accessed here.

If you or a family member are affected by this notice, please contact our office to discuss.

DIFFERENT APPROACHES TO COVID-19 VISA APPLICATIONS IN IRELAND AND THE UK

The Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in a vast decrease in international travel, and many people with valid Irish visas are now unable to enter the State during the validity period of their visa.

The Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service has stated that it will not re-issue visas for new dates at this time, and those individuals who cannot travel to Ireland during the validity period of their visa will need to reapply for an Irish visa at a later date.

This is in contrast to the approach of the UK Government which has published the following announcement:

“If your 30 day visa to travel to the UK for work, study or to join family has expired, or is about to expire, you can request a replacement visa with revised validity dates free of charge until the end of this year.

To make a request, contact the Coronavirus Immigration Help Centre…

You’ll be contacted when our VACs reopen to arrange for a replacement visa to be endorsed in your passport.

You will not be penalised for being unable collect your BRP while coronavirus measures are in place.

This process will be in place until the end of 2020.”

The announcement can be read in full here.

We at Berkeley Solicitors find the approach of the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service on this issue to be extremely disappointing and unfair to those individuals who have recently been granted visas for Ireland, many of whom may have been waiting many months to receive a decision on their visa application.

We call on the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service to revise their position on this matter and consider adopting a similar approach to that of the UK, allowing those affected to request replacement visas with new validity dates.

If you have any queries about applying for an Irish visa at this time, please do not hesitate to contact our office.

VISA DECISIONS CONTINUE TO BE ISSUED DURING THE COVID-19 CRISIS

We are happy to confirm that decisions in respect of visa applications to travel to Ireland continue to be issued by visa application centres, Irish Embassies and Consulates during the Covid-19 crisis.

Many Embassies, Consulate offices and visa processing centres are closed or are working at a reduced capacity, and so it is encouraging to see that decisions are still being issued throughout the pandemic.

Although there is a significant reduction in the number of decisions being issued in comparison to before Covid-19, it is good news to see clients are being issued with decisions on their pending applications, particularly because many people experience delays, beyond the guideline processing times, in order to have family members issued with visas in order to join them in the State.

Visa decision pages of INIS and respective Embassies and Consulates continue to be updated online.

Our office continues to act for many clients who wish to submit visa applications and who currently have pending visa applications, and we are continuing to liaise with INIS on behalf of our clients in this regard.

We at Berkeley Solicitors would encourage anyone with queries regarding visa applications to contact our office and we would be more than happy to advise.

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 AUTOMATIC EXTENSIONS OF RESIDENCE PERMISSION

NOTICE REGARDING AUTOMATIC EXTENSIONS OF RESIDENCE PERMISSIONS

The Department has published an important notice to all persons in the State 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). The notice confirms that the residence permissions will be automatically renewed for a two month period, on the same basis as the existing permission and with the same condition.

This includes persons in the State as visitors, who have applied for an alternative residence permission and have not yet received a decision – i.e. their visitors permission will be extended for two months.

The notice requires no action from the non national, and confirms the INIS registration offices are temporarily closed. The normal requirements to register residence permission will not arise until the registration offices re-open or alternative arrangements are put in place.

It is confirmed that a non national can present evidence of their last residence permission, in the form of a formal decision letter and/or the IRP card, together with a copy of the Notice, as evidence of their ongoing permission to remain in the State.

A list of frequently asked questions and responses is provided.

The notice can be accessed at the below link:

http://www.inis.gov.ie/en/INIS/frequently-asked-questions-immigration-permission-covid-19-temporary-measures.pdf/Files/frequently-asked-questions-immigration-permission-covid-19-temporary-measures.pdf

Berkeley Solicitors