477. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his plans to introduce a different visa system for persons visiting here on business as opposed to the system involving the current short-stay C visa, which also applies to certain holidaymakers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1519/19]
Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): All short stay visas are referred to as ‘C’ visas, and are issued for a number of different reasons, including tourism, business and family reasons.
Persons from visa-required countries seeking to enter the State for business purposes can apply for a short stay business visa, which enables them to travel to Ireland and work within one 14 day period. Where appropriate, a multi-entry visa can be granted for persons regularly coming to the State for business purposes. For persons seeking to conduct business in the State for a period in excess of 14 days, and have met certain criteria, there are specific options available, including a permission under the Atypical Work Scheme operated by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) or for an Employment Permit through the Department of Business, Enterprise & Innovation.
Furthermore, the British Irish Visa Scheme (BIVS), underpinned by a Memorandum of Understanding drawn up between my Department and the UK Home Office, also applies to business travellers on a short stay visit. The BIVS visa allows a short-stay visitor to visit both Ireland and the UK (and the North and South of the Island) without the need for two separate visas. While a BIVS visa is only currently available to national residents of India and the People’s Republic of China, it is intended to extend its availability to other countries on a phased basis following discussions with the UK authorities.
The BIVS builds on the success of Ireland's Short Stay Visa Waiver Programme which was first introduced in 2011, and extended in October 2016 for a further five years to 31 October, 2021.
The Programme enables nationals of 17 countries to travel to Ireland for a short stay using a valid UK visit visa. The countries covered under the programme are: Bahrain, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, India, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Montenegro, Oman, People's Republic of China, Qatar, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, Uzbekistan.
At present, there are no plans to introduce further changes to the visa regime for persons travelling to the State for business purposes which is designed to be as flexible as possible to meet requirements.