Certain nationalities now visa required as part of Government efforts to tackle the pandemic
Immigration Update February 2021
This update is the first one of 2021 and deals with many of the changes and developments of 2020 which arose from COVID contingency arrangements and from the end of the transition period and departure of the United Kingdom from the European Union.
Immigration Service Delivery announced some very important changes on Friday 29 January 2021 as follows:
As of midnight 27 January 2021 passport holders of the following countries are now also required to apply for an entry visa or transit visa, as appropriate, before travelling to Ireland:
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)
Suriname (transit visa now required – this country is already subject to entry visa requirements)
Temporarily cessation of processing of all new visa/preclearance applications
As of close of business 29 of January 2021 the Government has imposed increased travel restrictions to interrupt the transmission of COVID-19 . In effect this means that travel to Ireland may not be possible unless it is absolutely essential. It is currently against the law for any person (regardless of nationality or passport) to travel within Ireland for non-essential purposes.
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. Any applications made online will remain valid until such time as restrictions are lifted.
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 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 Government have indicated that situation will continue to be reviewed in consultation with the relevant authorities in the coming weeks and that they intend to resume accepting applications as soon as safety concerns abate. It is unclear when this will be.
Employment Permit Processing Times
Employment permits were taking 4 weeks for standard applications and 2 weeks for Trusted Partners immediately before the Christmas break. Unfortunately the processing time for standard applications doubled to 8 weeks just after Christmas and the most recent update shows processing times from 1 February of 6.5 weeks.
Immigration Permissions generally
As per previous extensions in 2020 Immigration Service Delivery announced the closure of the Burgh Quay Registration Office from 23 December 2020 and a further extension of immigration permissions to 20 April 2021.
This notice is detailed to be the the sixth, and expected to be the final, extension of permissions implemented since the outset of the pandemic.
The Notice states:
'All such permissions that are due to expire from 21st January 2021 - 20th April 2021 are automatically renewed by the Minister to the 20th April 2021. 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.
Any permission that was renewed by the previous notices which therefore has a new expiry date between 21st January 2021 and 20th April 2021 is automatically renewed by this notice until 20th April 2021.'
PPS Numbers and delays
An online PPS Number application service is now available at mywelfare.ie for people living in Ireland who are at least 18 years of age and need a PPS Number to avail of social welfare benefits, public services and information in Ireland.
In order to apply for a PPS Number online, you will need to have a basic MyGovID account. If you do not have a MyGovID account you can get one here.
The former process of completing a REG1 Form and sending to an email address does not appear to have been successful as there are now huge delays in processing applications dating back many months and concurrently it is extremely difficult to make contact with the relevant Department. Applications can be processed once the correct contacts are identified and the application located.
Citizenship has announced that as of18 January 2021 a new process for finalisation of applications is in place. There is no requirement for applicants for citizenship to contact the unit. Under the temporary new system, qualifying applicants will be contacted by the Citizenship division on a phase basis over the next few months. Qualifying applicants will be asked to complete a statutory declaration that will be sent to them by email from the Citizenship Division.
Qualifying applicants will be required to complete the statutory declaration in the presence of a witness who is either a notary public, commissioner for oaths, solicitor, or a peace commissioner, and authorised to take and receive statutory declarations. The Witness must be resident in the State and the Declaration must be administered / witnessed in the State.
Once completed the applicant must then send the signed statutory declaration, the appropriate fee and any other requested documentation to the dedicated postal address as instructed in the e-mail on or before the 30 May 2021.
It will take up to 6 weeks from receipt of the above documents to issue a Certificate of Naturalisation if all of the above is in order.
It is unclear how the above process might apply to applicants based in Northern Ireland who might otherwise qualify.
Permitted family member European Communities (Free Movement of Persons) Regulations 2015 (SI 548 of 2015)
The Court of Appeal has delivered an interesting judgment on an application for a residence card, which application was made on the basis of being a “permitted family member” as defined in Article 2 of the European Communities (Free Movement of Persons) Regulations 2015 (SI 548 of 2015) (the “Regulations”).
In FARRUKH ABBAS AND FAHAD ABBAS  IECA 16 the Court considers whether dependency needs to be established in the host Member State and the country where the applicant has come from as well as the evidence needed to prove dependency itself. This is a very detailed judgment which reviews the EU caselaw as well the UK position though the relevant Regulations there were different in format to those applying in Ireland.
The following dicta in the judgment is worth noting in relation to dependency:
'It cannot be the case that the mere transfer of funds from one party to another
establishes dependence for the purposes of the Directive and the Regulations. While the
recipient will always, no doubt, be very pleased to receive financial assistance, as Baker J.
observed in VK and Khan, funds advanced “must be essential to life and the financial support must be more than merely ‘welcome’, although an applicant does not have to prove that without such assistance, he or she would be living in conditions equivalent to destitution.'
With effect from 11pm on 31 December 2020 following the end of the Brexit transition period, all non-EEA family members of UK nationals seeking to join, or accompany, their UK national family member in Ireland will need to apply (depending on nationality) through a preclearance or visa scheme. This scheme applies to both visa required and non-visa required nationals. Applicants must apply before travel to Ireland.
The Preclearance Scheme only applies when a UK national has come to live in Ireland after 31 December 2020. If a UK national is living in Ireland on or before that date they and their eligible non-EEA family members will be a beneficiary under the Withdrawal Agreement.
UK citizens are not considered ‘non-nationals’ for the purpose of Irish immigration law, and will continue to enjoy arrangements under the Common Travel Area (CTA) including the freedom to live in the State after the UK leaves the European Union (EU).
This scheme allows certain non-EEA nationals to apply to join their UK national family member in Ireland. There is no automatic entitlement to family reunification but UK nationals will be permitted to act as a sponsor of such applications.
The immigration permission and application system is based on the Policy Document published 23 December 2020.
Please contact Aaron Flynn Solicitors here if you have any questions on any of the above.