The Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service announced yesterday that the Re-Entry Visa system for visa required nationals entering the Irish State will be abolished from the 13th of May 2019.

This is a significant development in the Irish Immigration System and a further positive change which will benefit approximately 40,000 non-EEA nationals living in Ireland annually.

What is a Re-Entry Visa and what does this mean?

At present, all visa required nationals living in Ireland with a valid immigration permission who wish to travel outside of the State must apply for a Re-Entry Visa to enable them to re-enter the State upon return. The exception to this to date has been residence card holders granted permission to reside in the State as the family members of EU nationals pursuant to Council Directive 2004/38/EC.

The Re-Entry Visa application process to date has required a visa-required national to submit their original passport to the INIS, paying an application fee and waiting for an uncertain amount of time for the re-entry visa to issue. This has caused significant hardship and stress to many visa-required nationals to date, particularly in circumstances where emergency travel has been required for family circumstances, urgent work-related travel, medical treatment etc. Sinnott solicitors have seen many clients miss out on important events such as celebrating Christmas in their home country with family, missing funerals, family functions and work-related events as a result of significant delays in the processing of their re-entry visa application, particularly at certain times of the year.

From the 13th of May 2019 visa required nationals who hold a valid Irish Residence Permit (IRP card) or Garda National Immigration Bureau Card (GNIB card) no longer need to apply for a re-entry visa in advance of travelling outside of the State. It is important that a person is in possession of their IRP or GNIB card along with their current passport when travelling. If not they may denied permission to board their flight to Ireland by airline officials, or may not be granted entry to the State at the port of entry, so we would remind individuals to exercise caution, ensure that they have renewed their permission to remain in the State prior to travel and are in possession of their valid IRP card (or GNIB card if applicable).

Exceptions to the requirement to hold a Re-Entry Visa

The following cohort of individuals will continue to require a Re-Entry Visa:

  1. Nationals of visa required countries who are under the age of 16 years as they are not issued with IRP/GNIB cards.
  2. Diplomats or accredited staff members of a foreign Embassy in Ireland, which is a visa required country, must apply for a Re-Entry Visa to the Protocol Division of the Department of Foreign Affairs after they arrive to the State. The reason for this is because Diplomats and Embassy staff are not issued with IRP/GNIB cards.

In addition to the above, it is also important to note that IRP and GNIB cards are only issued to non-EEA nationals who are intending to reside in Ireland for a period of longer than 90 days. It can on some occasions take a number of months before a person secures an appointment to attend the immigration office to register their permission to remain and a further number of weeks for the IRP card to issue. Under these circumstances visa required nationals intending to travel into and out of the State during this initial interim period of approximately four months should apply for a multiple entry visa when submitting their initial visa application.

It is important to note that GNIB cards were replaced by IRP cards in 2017 so GNIB cards are no longer issued by the INIS. GNIB cards which are still in date are valid for travel until the date of expiry of the card.  At their next registration with their local immigration office, an individual will then be issued with an IRP card. An IRP card will not be issued until a person’s previous GNIB card has expired or in the exceptional circumstance of loss or theft of the GNIB card.

Travel between now and the 13th of May 2019

If you are a visa required national and need to travel and return to the State before the 13th of May 2019, you must still hold a valid re-entry or multiple entry visa to travel to Ireland so we would advise anybody travelling to check their documentation and apply for the relevant visa if required.

If you have any queries on any matter raised in this article do not hesitate to contact our Immigration Department today on 0035314062862 or  for further advice and assistance.