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Question

297. Deputy Brendan Howlin asked the Minister for Justice the reason that visas are required for Colombian nationals visiting or studying in Ireland; if the cost of such visas is greater than the cost of visas for other nationals; the reason that the proof of economic solvency for Colombian applicants is much greater than for other South American applicants; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [36981/21]

Answer

Minister of State at the Department of Justice (Deputy James Browne): The criteria and requirements for visa required countries are kept under regular review in consultation with the Minister for Foreign Affairs. A wide range of factors are taken into account, including the promotion of business and trade and facilitating people who wish to come to Ireland to work or study. However, there are a number of other factors that also must be taken into consideration when any change to the visa regime is contemplated.
The Government's policy is to pursue a strategy of greater co-ordination and co-operation on visa issues with the United Kingdom (UK) in the context of the Common Travel Area (CTA) and the future expansion of the British-Irish Visa scheme. This scheme, which is agreed on a country by country basis, enables short stay visa holders to travel freely within the CTA. As part of this greater co-operation, the matter of alignment of those States whose citizens are visa required is an important consideration. The greater the extent of alignment between the two jurisdictions, the greater the opportunity to increase the numbers of tourism and business visits to the CTA.
At the present time, both Ireland and the UK require Colombian citizens to be in possession of a visa and any proposals for change will be considered in this context. This is of course kept under review and my Department has committed to a review when the current pandemic is over.
The visa fee is an non-refundable fee which covers the cost of administration to process an application. Some applicants, such as family members of Irish citizens and qualifying family members of EU/EEA/Swiss citizens, are exempt from visa fees. It is also the case that some nationalities are exempt from the requirement to pay the visa fee. In the case where a visa fee is payable, I am informed that the same fee is payable by all nationalities. The current visa fees are:
- €60: Single entry - Short stay “C” visa or long stay “D” visa
- €100: Multiple entry - Short stay 'C' visa or long stay “D” visa
Regardless of nationality, all applicants must satisfy the Visa Officer that a visa should be granted for the purpose sought. The applicant must show that they have sufficient funds to support their stay in Ireland. There is a different set of higher financial criteria which must be met to obtain a study visa but this is in no way related to the nationality of the applicant. I am informed that the proof of economic solvency for all applicants of all visa required nationals is identical.