Wednesday, 3 March 2021

Questions (681)

Thomas Pringle

Question:

681. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Justice the arrangements in place for citizens of Columbia who may need to come to Ireland for personal reasons in view of the access changes that have taken place; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [11607/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

As part of Government efforts to tackle the pandemic, visa requirements have been introduced for passport holders from a number of South American countries and South Africa. The Order and the associated measures came into effect at midnight on 27 January 2021. The Immigration Service of my Department has also temporarily ceased accepting new visa/preclearance applications, with effect from close of business on 29 January 2021.

While it will still be possible to apply for an Irish visa/preclearance online in the normal manner, these temporary measures mean that applicants will not be able to complete their application process at this time. Any application made online will remain valid, until such time as restrictions are lifted. The Immigration Service intends to resume accepting applications as soon as safety concerns abate.

These measures are designed to support our public health restrictions on movement, including into and out of Ireland. The strong advice from Government, 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 at this time.

Certain Priority/Emergency cases will continue to be processed and these include the following:

- 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 third 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;

- Seafarers;

- Journalists, when performing their duties.

For citizens of Colombia, if an application falls into one of these categories, an application can be made online in the usual way.

Visa applicants are advised to monitor my Department's immigration website (www.inis.gov.ie) where a Frequently Asked Questions document on the impact of COVID-19 on immigration and international protection is available. This document is regularly updated. Additionally any person intending to travel should also take note of the General COVID-19 Travel Advisory issued by the Department of Foreign Affairs.