Written answers

Wednesday, 8 December 2021

Department of Justice and Equality

Visa Applications

Photo of Michael Healy-RaeMichael Healy-Rae (Kerry, Independent)
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118. To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality if a visa will be made available to general practitioners from South Africa (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [60646/21]

Photo of Helen McEnteeHelen McEntee (Meath East, Fine Gael)
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As part of Government efforts to tackle the pandemic, I have signed an Order that imposes new entry visa and transit visa requirements on passport holders from South Africa, Botswana, Eswatini, Namibia, and Lesotho. This order and the associated measures came into effect at midnight, 26 November 2021. I signed a further Order to introduce transit visa requirements on passport holders from Mozambique, who are already entry visa required, which came into effect from midnight, 29 November 2021.

This move is in line with the latest public health advice regarding new COVID-19 variants of concern and is in addition to countries who were already visa required prior to that date.

In consultation with colleagues in the Department of Health, on 6 December 2021, my Department updated the list of exemptions on visa requirements for persons travelling from South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique, and Zimbabwe (or persons who have been in those countries within the last 14 days).

Any visa required national that is travelling to Ireland from South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique or Zimbabwe, needs to comply with the restrictions on travel provided for in Regulations made by the Minister for Health. The Regulations provide for a number of exemptions. The relevant ones for visa required nationals are set out immediately below. Visa applications will only be accepted and processed where the person comes within one of the following exemptions:

- has obtained or is entitled to apply for a right of residence under EU Free Movement;

- has a valid Residence Permission in the State under the immigration Acts (including persons covered by the interim arrangements that apply from 15 November 2021 to 15 January 2021);

- is a family member of an Irish citizen;

- has not been in one of the following countries (South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique, and Zimbabwe) in the previous 14 days prior to the date of travel to the State;

- is a diplomat and to whom the privileges and immunities conferred by an international agreement or arrangement or customary international law apply in the State, pursuant to the Diplomatic Relations and Immunities Acts 1967 to 2006 or any other enactment or the Constitution.

These measures will remain in place until further notice. The situation will continue to be reviewed in consultation with the relevant authorities in the coming weeks.

With regard to the specific issue you raise in relation to general practitioners from South Africa, my Department is operating visa requirements for the southern African region consistent with the current Department of Health Regulations that apply temporary restrictions to travel from that region. My Department is aware of the issue raised by the Deputy, as is the Department of Health, and both Departments are seeking to find an appropriate resolution to this matter, consistent with our public health obligations.

Any updates will be published on our Irish Immigration website (www.irishimmigration.ie) at the appropriate time.


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