The ongoing COVID-19 crisis is evolving on a daily basis and the Irish Immigration Service Delivery like many government divisions announced further restrictions on services and functions over the weekend in a number of separate announcements. We have collated and summarised the latest announcements in this article to assist individuals to understand the situation.

 

Registration of permission to reside in the State

In Ireland individuals are required to register their permission to reside in Ireland at the Garda National Immigration Bureau (GNIB) if living in Dublin, or a local immigration office, if resident outside of Dublin.

As of the 20th of March 2020, the GNIB and all local immigration offices have closed temporarily until the 20th of May 2020. This is a welcomed move in circumstances where it was not possible to implement strict social distancing measures in these offices to ensure the safety of individuals attending along with the staff working there.

Immigration permissions due to expire from the 20th of March to 20th of May are automatically renewed up until and including the 20th of May 2020 on the basis of the same original immigration permission previously granted to that person.  

No action is required on behalf of applicants to register the permission. They do not need to contact any office or pay a renewal fee for this two-month extension. It is important to note that this is only applicable to individuals lawfully resident in the State up until the 20th of March 2020. If a person’s immigration permission had expired before the 20th of March and they are awaiting a decision from the Department of Justice and Equality, the extension is not applicable to them and unfortunately, they have to continue to wait to hear from the Department. 

If a person has submitted a written application to renew their immigration permission, then the two-month extension will be included in the renewed permission. This will be of particular relevance if a person is applying for Irish citizenship. The two-month extension is included in the calculation of reckonable residency provided that the permission previously held was eligible for Irish citizenship. So for example if a person has been resident in the State on a Stamp 2  permission until the 20th of March or after, and had already applied for a change in immigration permission to a Stamp 4, their Stamp 2 is automatically renewed for two months however they cannot later use the two month period for the purpose of calculating reckonable residency for the citizenship application.

If a person has entered the State on a short stay immigration permission and are required to attend the local immigration office for registration, for example a student visa holder, a non-visa required national married to an Irish national, the short stay immigration permission granted on arrival is extended to the 20th of May 2020.

Similarly, individuals who have entered as tourists whose permission to remain expires between the 20th of March and the 20th of May have their permission automatically extended for 2 months. As airlines have stopped flying to many countries at the moment this may be particularly relevant to individuals who have travelled to Ireland as visitors but are temporarily unable to return home.

Students whose immigration permission expires between 20th of March and 20th of May automatically avail of the temporary extension as do Working Holiday Authorisation Holders, and visitors who have submitted applications to be granted a Stamp 0 permission to remain as well as visiting academics/researchers.

 

International Protection Applicants

International Protection applicants who are awaiting a final decision on their application and whose Temporary Residence Certificates (TRC) have expired will receive a new certificate in the post from the International Protection Office. They should not attend the office but should await receipt of the TRC by post.

International Protection applicants who are awaiting a final decision on their international protection application and whose access to the Labour Market has or is expiring automatically have their Access to the Labour Market renewed until the 20th of May 2020. This is not applicable to new applicants waiting for a decision on access to the Labour Market or individuals who have received a final decision on their application.

People seeking to apply for International Protection should continue to attend the International Protection Office to submit their application as normal.  

 

English Language School Students

If an English language school has closed due to Government advice, all international students will be considered to have met their attendance requirement for the shutdown period. Immigration permissions expiring between 20 March 2020 and 20 May 2020 are automatically renewed for a period of 2 months and students will be required to renew their registrations as usual after the 20th of May.

 

Atypical Working Scheme

AWS holders can avail of the two-month extension without further registration or paying a fee. The commencement date of the twelve month cooling off period is the calculated from the original date of expiry of the AWS permission, or date upon which the AWS holder left the State if before the expiry of the 90 day permission, and not the expiry date of the extension.  This is important for workers seeking to return to the State in the future on an AWS permission.

If a person has been issued with a letter of approval from the AWS unit but cannot travel within the relevant timeframe as per the AWS policy, they must immediately return the approval letter to the Department of Justice who will issue a new letter of approval when revised travel plans are submitted. Similarly if an AWS holder had to leave the State early, prior to the expiry of the AWS permission and completion of the contract which formed the basis of the grant of the permission, the letter of approval should again be returned to the Department of Justice who will issue a new letter of approval once revised travel plans are submitted along with evidence from the Irish-based host body regarding the cessation of operations, and evidence of date of departure.

 

What happens with immigration registrations and permissions after the 20th of May 2020

Should life return to normal with all government immigration offices and divisions operating as usual, then a person’s immigration application will be processed as normal with a written decision issuing by the Department of Justice and Equality. If not, then further extensions may be necessary and will be announced by the Immigration Service Delivery in due course.

 

VISA APPLICATIONS

As of the 21st of March 2020, the visa office has ceased accepting new visa applications as a temporary measure. Previously only certain visa offices and application centres had been closed to new applications; however, the new closure announcement is now applicable to all Irish visa offices worldwide.

Applicants may continue to submit the initial visa application online; however, they will not be in a position to submit their supporting documentation or biometric data where relevant until such time as normal processing recommences.

Notwithstanding the closure of visa offices, certain priority or emergency applications will continue to be processed as follows:

  • Emergency employment visas for healthcare workers, healthcare researchers and elderly care professionals;
  • Immediate family members of Irish citizens, persons legally resident in the State and Persons entitled to avail of the provision of the EU Free Movement Directive, for example the spouse of an Irish or EU national.

Applicants in the above category should apply online and follow the instructions on the summary page as to where the application should be submitted.

 

Should you have any queries on your own immigration status or situation do not hesitate to contact our Immigration Department today on 0035314062862, or info@sinnott.ie.