374. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Justice if the processing of applications for student visa permissions for students who wish to commence third-level courses in Ireland in September-October 2021 has recommenced; if not, when the processing of such applications will recommence; if applications are currently being accepted; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [25284/21]
Minister of State at the Department of Justice (Deputy James Browne): As part of Government efforts to tackle the pandemic, in January 2021, new visa requirements on passport holders from a number of South American countries and South Africa were introduced and the Immigration Service of my Department also took the decision to temporarily cease accepting new visa/preclearance applications from all countries, with the exception of the Priority/Emergency case types, which includes applications for third-country nationals travelling for the purpose of third-level study.
A limited resumption of visa services had already commenced on 22 June 2020, when the Immigration Service recommenced accepting certain Long Stay “D” visa applications, including for study.
If a person's application falls into this category, they can apply on-line in the usual way. However, before proceeding with an on-line application, they should check with their local Embassy/Honorary Consulate/Visa Office to confirm that their application meets the criteria. Once they have completed the on-line application, they should follow the instructions given on the summary page as to where to submit the application.
These measures are designed to support our current public health restrictions on movement, including into and out of Ireland. The increased travel restrictions, along with the mandatory hotel quarantine measures introduced as part of the Government’s efforts to interrupt the transmission of COVID-19, means that travel may not be possible and even if possible is not advisable unless absolutely essential.
When making such decisions, the Government considers the expert public health advices of NPHET to tackle the disease. The situation will continue to be reviewed in consultation with the relevant authorities in the coming weeks.