On the 29th of January 2021, the Immigration Service Delivery suspended the acceptance of new visa/preclearance applications with the exception of Emergency/Priority cases. They also suspended the issuing of new visas where applicants had applied prior to the 29th of January 2021. The suspension was initially introduced to last until the 5th of March 2021, however, has been extended on numerous occasions and is now in place indefinitely.

The suspension has caused huge stress, upset and anxiety amongst those affected, including the multiple families who remain separated due to this draconian measure.

Sinnott Solicitors appeared before the High Court this afternoon on behalf of two of our clients in an urgent Judicial Review application seeking a challenge to the refusal of the visa office to issue a decision.

Our clients are a French national and her Indian spouse. The Indian national applied for a join spouse visa in December 2020, to join his wife, an EU citizen who is exercising her EU Treaty Rights in the State pursuant to the European Communities (Free Movement of Persons) Regulations 2015. The visa office has refused to process our client’s visa application on foot of the policy decision of the Minister for Justice to refuse to accept/process visa applications. The application in this case should have been processed by way of accelerated process as the family member of an EU national exercising EU Treaty Rights in the State. The application has been pending for 5 months at this juncture,  and it is the position of the visa office that the visa application will not be processed until further notice and/or until travel restrictions are lifted.

This is an unacceptable situation in circumstances where it is a clear breach of Regulation 4(3)(b) of the European Communities (Free Movement of Persons) Regulations 2015 and is ultra vires section 31A of the Health Act 1947 and/or regulation 4(2)(a) of the European Communities (Free Movement of Persons) Regulations 2015. In addition, we submit that the refusal to accept the visa application as falling within the category of “[p]ersons travelling for imperative family … reasons” is unreasonable and/or contrary to law.  Moreover, it is clear that the visa office has disproportionately interfered with, the rights of our clients’, a married couple and family unit, and each of them under articles 40.3 and 41 of the Constitution, article 7 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union and/or under article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Our clients have sought an order of mandamus from the High Court to compel the visa office to issue a decision on the visa  application and/or an order of certiorari quashing the refusal of the visa office to process the visa application.  They remain separated indefinitely due to the refusal of the visa office to process and issue a decision on the application. It has has caused enormous uncertainty and distress to our clients and there are many visa applicants in the same situation at present.

Ms Justice Burns directed that the Minister for Justice be put on notice of the leave application and made the matter returnable to Thursday the 20th of May at 10.30am. We will post an update on the matter following court attendance on Thursday morning.

If you have been affected by the current policy of the visa office to refuse to accept new visa applications, or issue your visa, do not hesitate to contact our immigration department in Cork or Dublin today on 014062862/0212028080  or info@sinnott.ie to discuss the matter further.