Written answers

Tuesday, 13 October 2020

Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Visa Agreements

Patrick Costello (Dublin South Central, Green Party)
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189. To ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the date on which and the reason it was decided that embassies would refuse to process the issuing of visas that have been granted for travel here; if this decision was made in relation to all embassies; and if not, the embassies to which it relates. [30003/20]

Photo of Simon CoveneySimon Coveney (Cork South Central, Fine Gael)
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In line with advice from the Department of Justice and Equality, all our Embassies and Consulates abroad ceased accepting new visa applications or issuing visa stickers from 20 March 2020. The decision was taken as part of combined efforts to tackle COVID-19, in line with overall Government policy.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, certain priority/ emergency visa applications continued to be processed by our Embassies and Consulates abroad, where possible and in accordance with local public health restrictions. The criteria for priority/ emergency visa applications were set out in the notice of 21 March on the website of Immigration Service Delivery ().

In line with the advice from the Department of Justice and Equality, it remains the case that our Embassies abroad are not in a position to accept short-stay visa applications other than for priority/emergency cases. As per the notice of 25 September (), the Department of Justice and Equality expanded the priority/ emergency criteria to include those specific categories of travellers identified in the EU Council Recommendation (EU) 2020/912 of 30 June 2020 as having an essential function or need.

These include the following:

- Healthcare professionals, health researchers, and elderly care professionals;

- Immediate family members of Irish citizens (who are returning to their ordinary place of residence in Ireland);

- Persons legally resident in the State;

- Persons entitled to avail of the provision of the EU Free Movement Directive;

- Transport personnel engaged in haulage of goods and other transport staff to the extent necessary;

- Frontier workers;

- Seasonal workers in agriculture;

- 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 humanitarian aid workers and civil protection personnel in the exercise of their functions;

- Passengers in transit;

- Passengers travelling for critical family reasons;

- Seafarers;

- Persons in need of international protection or for other humanitarian reasons;

- Third-country nationals travelling for the purpose of 3rd level study;

- Highly qualified third-country workers if their employment is necessary from an economic perspective and the work cannot be postponed or performed abroad.

A limited resumption of visa services for certain long-stay visa applications was announced by the Department of Justice and Equality at the end of June. It is intended that our Embassies and Consulates abroad will resume the full visa service once public health concerns have abated, in accordance with advice from the Department of Justice and Equality and in line with overall Government policy.

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