302. Deputy Joe Flaherty asked the Minister for Justice if there are plans for an easing of restrictions on passengers who are also partners of Irish nationals travelling into the country (details supplied). [38847/21]


Minister of State at the Department of Justice (Deputy James Browne): From 16 June 2021, my Department lifted certain country specific and temporary entry and transit visa restrictions which were brought into effect on 28 January 2021. As a result of this decision, nationals from South Africa, Brazil and some South American countries are no longer visa required.
The criteria and requirements for visa required countries are kept under regular review in consultation with the Minister for Foreign Affairs. For nationals from a visa required country, long stay visa and preclearance applications are currently being accepted and processed by my Department.
It remains the position that my Department is not currently accepting any short stay visa applications, except for cases that fall under the Emergency/Priority criteria set out below. The suspension of short stay applications will continue to be reviewed in consultation with the relevant authorities in the coming weeks as public health restrictions on international travel and the measures introduced as part of the Government’s efforts to interrupt the transmission of COVID-19 are eased.
The Priority/Emergency cases that will continue to be accepted and processed include the following:
- All long stay employment applications, supported by a work permit or atypical permission;
- patients travelling for imperative medical reasons;
- transport workers or transport service providers, including drivers of freight vehicles carrying goods for use in the territory as well as those merely transiting;
- pupils, students and trainees who travel abroad on a daily basis and Third-country nationals travelling for the purpose of 3rd level study;
- Join Family applications;
- Preclearance applications from de facto partner of an Irish national, de facto partner of a Critical Skills Employment Permit holder, or of a non EEA researcher on a Hosting Agreement and family members looking to join a UK national in Ireland;
- persons travelling for imperative family* or business reasons;
- Persons entitled to avail of the provision of the EU Free Movement Directive;
- diplomats, staff of international organisations and people invited by international organisations whose physical presence is required for the well-functioning of these organisations, military personnel and police officers, and humanitarian aid workers and civil protection personnel in the exercise of their functions;
- passengers in transit;
- seafarers;
- journalists, when performing their duties.