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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

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

 

UPDATE ON VISA DELAYS – ATIF AND MAHMOOD CASE

UPDATE – A few months ago, we published a blog regarding the considerable delays in the processing of EUTR visas for the family members of EU citizens. In Atif and Mahmood, several applicants challenged the legality of such delays.

In Atif and Mahmood, the High Court in Ireland ruled in favour of the applicants indicating that any delay over six months in processing visa applications was too long. However, the Minister appealed this decision to the Court of Appeals in Ireland. In order to make a decision in this matter, the Court of Appeals referred to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) for guidance.

Specifically, the Court of Appeals sought a preliminary ruling on how to interpret Article 5(2) of Directive 2004/38/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 29 April 2004. This article addresses the free movement rights of EU citizens and their families and requires the Member State “to issue a visa as quickly as possible to the spouse and family members of a Union citizen exercising free movement rights.”

The Court of Appeals set forth these questions to the ECJ for preliminary ruling:

  1. Does a Member State breach the requirement of Article 5(2) of Directive 2004/38/EC when the delays in processing an application for EUTR visas for the family members of EU citizens exceed 12 months?
  2. Does a Member State breach the requirement of Article 5(2) of Directive 2004/38/EC when delays in processing are due to ensuring that the application is not fraudulent or an abuse of rights, for instance, a marriage of convenience?
  3. Does a Member State breach the requirement of Article 5(2) of Directive 2004/38/EC when delays in processing are due to background and security checks on applicants coming from third world countries for security purposes?
  4. Does a Member State breach the requirement of Article 5(2) of Directive 2004/38/EC when delays in processing are due to a “a sudden and unanticipated surge in such applications coming from certain third countries which are thought to present real security concerns”?

To the above questions, the ECJ has made a decision regarding this matter.

“Since, however, all of the visa applications at issue in the main proceedings were the subject of negative decisions, which were contested by means of court actions which were not upheld, and since the referring court has noted that the Court’s answer can no longer benefit the applicants in the main proceedings, as is clear from paragraphs 18 and 20 of the present order, the dispute in the main proceedings has become devoid of purpose and, consequently, an answer to the questions referred appears to be no longer necessary.”

Since all of the applications in question had already been determined, the ECJ deferred from making a decision in this matter. Essentially, the ECJ determined that issuing a decision in this case would no longer be beneficial to the applicants and therefore there is no point in pursuing the matter further. Thus, the issue of how to interpret Article 5(2) of Directive 2004/38/EC in regard to visa delays remains unresolved.

Read more about visa delays in our full blog here.

Read the full decision in this matter  here.