As a result of the recently discovered Covid-19 variant Omicron,  the Minister for Justice Ms Helen McEntee signed an urgent statutory instrument into law on Friday the 26th of November in order to control travel to the Republic of Ireland for citizens of South Africa, Botswana, Eswatini, Namibia and Lesotho.

The order took effect from midnight on the 26th of November.

What does the order mean?

Citizens of South Africa, Botswana, Eswatini and Lesotho who are ordinarily non-visa required nationals, are now required to apply for an entry visa or a transit visa in order to enter the Republic of Ireland.

Citizens of Namibia, who are ordinarily visa required nationals, must apply for a transit visa or an entry visa as appropriate.

Visa applications from citizens of the above countries as well as Zimbabwe and Mozambique will only be accepted for processing in the following circumstances which the Immigration Service Delivery describe as “Emergency/Priority applications”:

  • All long stay Employment applications, supported by an employment permit or Atypical permissions.
  • Patients travelling for imperative medical reasons.
  • Transport workers or transport service providers, including drivers of freight vehicles carrying goods for use in the territory as well as those merely transiting.
  • Pupils, students and trainees who travel abroad on a daily basis and Third-country nationals travelling for the purpose of third level study.
  • Join Family visa applications.
  • Preclearance applications from De Facto Partner of an Irish National, De Facto Partner of a Critical Skills Employment Permit Holder, or of a non-EEA Researcher on a Hosting Agreement and Family members looking to join a UK National in Ireland.
  • Persons travelling for imperative family* or business reasons.
  • Persons entitled to avail of the provision of the EU Free Movement Directive.
  • 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 Immigration Service Delivery has confirmed that applications from persons seeking to travel for imperative family reasons will be assessed on an individual basis and will be confined to emergency cases that may arise in a family situation. Similar to previously when additional visa restrictions were introduced in January 2021, no further guidance has specifically been provided by the Immigration Service Delivery as to what imperative family circumstances will actually be considered when processing a visa application.

In addition, no information has been published as to what is classed as travel for imperative business reasons and we submit that further guidance is required in this regard.

It is clear that Short Stay C visa applications for non-essential business purposes or visit/holiday visas will not be accepted for processing at this time.

The full notice which appears on the Immigration Service Delivery can be read here.

With offices in Dublin and Cork, Sinnott Solicitors have a specialist team of Immigration Solicitors and Immigration Consultants who are experts on Irish visas and all Irish immigration matters. Should you have any queries with respect to any of the information contained in this article or any other immigration matters, do not hesitate to contact our immigration department in Cork or Dublin today on 014062862 or