Wednesday, 20 January 2021

Questions (414)

Robert Troy

Question:

414. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Justice when the short stay visa process will reopen (details supplied). [2270/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

Current travel advice is to avoid all non-essential travel in and to Ireland. The situation will continue to be reviewed in consultation with the relevant authorities and any changes to the restrictions on visa processing will be announced on the Immigration Service website at:

http://www.inis.gov.ie/en/INIS/Pages/COVID-19-updates-and-announcements

As part of the combined efforts to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic and to ensure customer safety, the Immigration Service of my Department took the decision to temporarily cease issuing visas from 20 March 2020.

It remains the position that the Immigration Service is not accepting or issuing any short stay visa applications, except for cases that fall under the Emergency/Priority criteria, which was expanded to include those specific categories of travellers, identified as having an essential function or need in EU Council Recommendation (EU) 2020/912 of 30 June 2020. The updated list of exemptions deemed to fall into the Emergency/Priority cohort is as follows:

- 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;

- Transport personnel engaged in haulage of goods and other transport staff to the extent necessary;

- Frontier workers;

- Seasonal workers in agriculture;

- 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 humanitarian aid workers and civil protection personnel in the exercise of their functions;

- Passengers in transit;

- Passengers travelling for critical family reasons;

- Seafarers;

- Third-country nationals travelling for the purpose of 3rd level study;

- Highly qualified third-country workers if their employment is necessary from an economic perspective and the work cannot be postponed or performed abroad.

Applicants who meet the Emergency/Priority criteria set out above should contact the relevant Visa Office and submit documents to support their case. The Visa Office will make an assessment as to whether an application can be accepted. Applications are considered on a case by case basis.

There are still restrictions in place in many countries, so in locations where it has not been possible to resume services as of yet, it is intended to resume accepting visa applications as soon as is possible. Any resumption of services is subject to current health and safety advice in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic.