From Wednesday 10th of July citizens of South Africa and Botswana will be required to obtain entry visas before travelling to the Republic of Ireland.

Temporary transitional arrangements will be implemented where persons have already booked their travel however the arrangements must have been made before the 10th of July and only apply to travel to the State until the 9th of August 2024.

What do the changes mean

Prior to the 10th of July 2024,  citizens of South Africa and Botswana have not required an entry visa to travel to the Republic of Ireland. As non-visa required nationals, they would simply travel to the State and at the border seek permission to enter based on their specific intentions, for example entry to visit, entry to reside with a family member, entry for the purpose of study.

From the 10th of July, nationals of South Africa and Botswana will need to apply for an entry visa prior to travelling.

A transit visa is also required if transiting through Ireland to another destination.

The changes will cause significant disruption for South African and Botswanan nationals who are traveling to Ireland in the future.

Business Impact

Employees granted employment permits will now be required to apply for entry visas thereby delaying proposed employment commencement dates. To date a citizen from these countries would simply travel to Ireland to take up employment once they are issued with an employment permit from the Department of Enterprise.

They will now however need to apply for an Employment Visa after the grant of the Employment Permit in order to enter the State.

Employment visa processing times in the Dublin visa office are approximately two months at the time of writing.  The changes will certainly have a commercial impact on employers waiting for employees, where there is already a labour shortage in the market effecting their business,  to be granted employment visas to enter the country to start work.

Similarly business travellers from Botswana and South Africa will now need to apply for a business visa to enter the State for business purposes, with current processing times  for business visas taking just under two months in the Dublin visa office.

Students

Students from South Africa and Botswana will have to prove much higher financial resources to study in Ireland, showing immediate access to at least €10,000 for one academic year and ready access to €10,000 for each subsequent year of study, in addition to course fees for each additional year. This will have a significant impact on the number of third level students from these countries choosing to study in Ireland.

Family Reunification

Families will be subjected to the financial thresholds set out in the Policy Document on Non-EEA Family Reunification. For example spouses of Irish citizens will need to show minimum earnings of €40,000 in the three years prior to an application.

Spouses of non-EU nationals will need to show earnings of €30,000  net per annum for each of the previous two years where there are no children, and if there are children the minimum financial thresholds of the Working Family Payment Supplement must be reached, for example where a person has a spouse and one child, they must currently show minimum earnings of €33, 540 net for each of the previous two years.

These are merely a handful of examples of the implications of South Africa and Botswana becoming visa required countries. The Minister for Justice in her announcement stated as follows:

“This is a carefully considered decision which will bring Ireland into closer alignment with the Schengen Area in respect of both of these countries, and into line with the UK in respect of South Africa.

“Irish visa requirements are kept under ongoing review, having regard for the need to ensure that effective immigration controls are in place whilst also facilitating those who wish to travel to Ireland for the purposes of a visit, to work, to study, or to join family members.”

The full statement 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 EU treaty rights 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 info@sinnott.ie.