As the coronavirus pandemic continues to unfold, the Irish Government is monitoring travel restrictions and the implications this may have on visa holders on a regular basis. Although lockdown measures and social distancing have proven to lower the spread of the Covid-19 infection, at the time of writing 5,709 cases have emerged across Ireland and 210 people have sadly died.
How long will the lockdown in Ireland last?
In line with measures all across the globe, Ireland has similarly invoked a nationwide lockdown. People are told to stay indoors and only leave for essential purposes such as for food shopping, exercise or work.
On March 27, the Irish Government outlined that these lockdown measures would extend up until Easter Sunday, April 12.
However, last week Ireland’s Deputy Prime Minister, Simon Coveney, warned that the quarantine situation in Ireland is likely to extend beyond Easter Sunday. The religious holiday is normally a great attraction for tourists as celebrations usually erupt all across Ireland, but concerns are ramping up that visitors may arrive and bring the deadly virus with them.
During this period, people are only allowed to travel within 2km of their homes. Public and private gatherings, including Easter celebrations, are currently prohibited. Only those who are considered key workers such as healthcare staff are able to travel further to work.
The religious holiday is normally a great attraction for tourists as celebrations usually erupt all across Ireland, but concerns are ramping up that visitors may arrive and bring the deadly virus with them
There is little guidance so far on how long the extended lockdown will last, but considering the situation, it is likely to be reviewed and extended.
Assurance for Foreign Nationals with Visas
The Government has advised foreign nationals on Short Stay C Visas to return to their country of origin where possible. However, many countries have transitioned into a full lockdown, which includes travel bans. The US, Canada, New Zealand and Australia have all curbed travel through their borders, including for their own citizens.
As a result, the Irish State has confirmed that non-EEA foreign nationals within Ireland under a valid Irish Visa or permit will have their stay automatically extended until 20 May. The Minister for Justice, Charlie Flanagan, outlined that those who hold legal immigration permission that is due to expire in the forthcoming weeks will be granted this extension for two months during the coronavirus pandemic. This is to mitigate the possibility of anyone falling into a legal grey area “through no fault of their own.”
The extension applies to:
- People who hold valid permission, such as a Long Stay D Visa, that is due to expire
- People who have been granted a Visitor Permit, such as the Short Stay C Visa which usually only lasts for 3 months
- People whose status may have already expired as of 20 March
- People who have arrived in Ireland but have not yet attended their immigration registration appointment due to office closures or who are midway through processing a renewal, extension or new application
The Irish State has confirmed that non-EEA foreign nationals within Ireland under a valid Irish Visa or permit will have their stay automatically extended until 20 May
Travelling to Ireland
However, travelling to Ireland right now is particularly difficult. Most EU external borders have closed down, although for Ireland this rule doesn’t apply.
Still, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has advised against all non-essential travel overseas, including to and from Great Britain. Irish citizens and settled people in Ireland who may still be abroad have been encouraged to come back to Ireland while they still can in case all commercial flights become grounded should the coronavirus situation exacerbate.
That being said, Ireland hasn’t suspended its visa programmes or the requirements. For the time being, it is still possible to secure an Irish Visa and enter the State – even though the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service in Dublin has temporarily closed until further notice.
Certain categories that are considered a priority/emergency can still seek an Irish Visa. This includes:
- Healthcare professionals
- Heath researchers
- Elderly care professionals
- Direct family members of Irish citizens, I.e. the Join Family category
- People who already have a legal right to residence in Ireland I.e. pursuing Irish Citizenship
- Humanitarian aid workers
- Diplomats and other key international staff
- Military personnel
However, it is important to note that applicants will need to self-isolate for 14 days upon arrival and may struggle to board a flight or a ferry.
Where can I receive immigration advice?
Here at the Immigration Advice Service, we are operating as normal to attend to your visa and status concerns. We are all too aware of the situation and the stipulations a lockdown is having on families. As a result, we have extended our opening hours and capacity to assist applicants on the phone or via video call for those who urgently need immigration advice in Ireland.
Our team of immigration lawyers and experts are well equipped to handle your query. Should you need advice, contact us today on (+353) 061 518 025 for immediate help and guidance.