The Immigration Service Delivery released another FAQ document regarding the Impact of COVID-19 on Immigration and International Protection – updated 12th of June 2020.
The changes in this update primarily relate to visa applications and visas which were issued prior to the 15th of March 2020. Previously the ISD had directed that applicants would be required to apply for a new visa where they have been unable to travel during the validity period of previously issued visas.
The latest update has confirmed that in the case of Long Stay Visas which were issued before the 15th of March, and where the applicant was not in a position to travel to Ireland due to the pandemic, then it may be possible to amend the visa sticker in order for new travel dates to be endorsed thereon.
Applicants are directed to contact their local Irish Embassy or Irish Consulate once offices re-open for further information.
Where applicants were issued with Employment/Volunteer/Minister of Religion/Study visas, they will be required to prove to the Visa Office that their travel to Ireland is still applicable in order for their visa sticker to be re-issued. This may involve applicants providing letters from their prospective employer or perhaps in the case of a Minister of Religion a letter from their sponsoring church, or a student a letter from their course provider.
Unfortunately with respect to Short Stay C visas which were issued prior to the 15th of March where applicants have been unable to travel due to the pandemic, the Visa Office has not agreed to extend such visas and new applications will be required when normal processing resumes. To date no indication has been provided by the ISD as to when normal processing will resume for Short Stay C visa applications and we would request that the Visa Office provide some clarity in this regard, particularly in circumstances where individuals may wish to visit Ireland to see family members, sit examinations, submit notifications of intention to marry etc.
Sinnott Solicitors welcome the decision of the Visa Office to extend Long Stay D visas where individuals have been unable to travel due to the pandemic in circumstances where we are aware of many clients who have waited for 12 months or more for their visa applications to be processed and were extremely upset and anxious at the prospect of having to apply for new visas as was indicated in prior ISD Covid-19 updates. We have many cases where for example spouses, parents, children will now be able to travel to Ireland to reunite with their family members, or work permit holders will be able to finally relocate to Ireland to commence employment as soon as possible, and these are all very positive developments after many difficult and uncertain months.
The update also confirms that applicants must submit their hard copy supporting documentation to the relevant Visa Office indicated on the application form and documentation cannot be submitted electronically.
In relation to Visa Appeals, applicants are directed to submit their appeal within the two month time limit as normal however where documents are delayed as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, applicants are directed to notify the visa office of this position in their cover letter and indicate that the documentation will be submitted in due course.
Individuals who were resident in Ireland with valid IRP cards which expired after the 20th March 2020 and before they were able to return to Ireland, will be required to submit a new online visa application. Applicants are directed to contact their local Embassy or Visa Office to ascertain what documentation is required. Whilst there is no mention in the update that such applications will be prioritised we would submit that it is absolutely necessary that such applications be expedited.
REOPENING OF VISA OFFICES
Separate to the above update, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade have announced that certain Irish Visa Application Centres and offices which accept documentation for the processing of Irish visa applications are due to open on the 22nd of June 2020.
Initially only Long-Stay D visa applications will be processed. Applications for Short-Stay C visas will not be processed due to ongoing restrictions in Ireland including the requirement to self-isolate for a period of 14 days upon arrival.
In China, the Visa Application Centres which have announced that they will reopen are as follows: Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Chongqing as well as Hong Kong.
In Russia, the Visa Application Centre in Moscow is scheduled to reopen.
Kazakhstan and Belarus will also reopen their VAC’s however Uzbekistan has yet to announce an opening date.
In the United Arab Emirates, the Visa Application Centres in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, and Quraysh City will all open on 22nd June 2020.
Updates are awaited from countries such as Nigeria, Pakistan, India, and many others and as soon as any information is available in relation to these countries, we will publish further updates on our website.
The full ISD FAQ document can be found here – http://www.inis.gov.ie/en/INIS/Immigration-Service-Delivery-Covid-19-FAQ4.pdf/Files/Immigration-Service-Delivery-Covid-19-FAQ4.pdf
The Immigration Department of Sinnott Solicitors have extensive experience in dealing with all Irish immigration matters.