1423. Deputy David Cullinane asked the Minister for Justice when tourist visa applications from South America will be considered by her Department; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [19167/21]
Minister for Justice (Deputy Helen McEntee): As part of Government efforts to tackle the pandemic, on 27 January 2021, I signed an Order that imposes new visa requirements on passport holders from a number of South American countries and South Africa.
In addition to the new requirements, the Immigration Service of my department also took the decision to temporarily cease accepting new visa/preclearance applications with the exception of the Priority/Emergency case types, The list of exemptions deemed to fall into the Emergency/Priority cohort is as follows:
- Healthcare professionals, health researchers, and elderly care professionals;
- Immediate family members of Irish citizens (who are returning to their ordinary place of residence in Ireland);
- Persons legally resident in the State;
- Persons entitled to avail of the provision of the EU Free Movement Directive;
- Transport personnel engaged in haulage of goods and other transport staff to the extent necessary;
- Frontier workers;
- Seasonal workers in agriculture;
- 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 humanitarian aid workers and civil protection personnel in the exercise of their functions;
- Passengers in transit;
- Passengers travelling for critical family reasons;
- Third-country nationals travelling for the purpose of 3rd level study;
- Highly qualified third-country workers if their employment is necessary from an economic perspective and the work cannot be postponed or performed abroad.
This process is effective from close of business on 29 January 2021, and applies to all countries. These measures have now been extended to at least 5 May 2021, and the situation will continue to be reviewed in consultation with the relevant authorities in the coming weeks.
Therefore, the current advice is that anyone, regardless of their nationality or visa/preclearance status, who cannot provide proof of an essential purpose to travel to or within Ireland, should not travel to Ireland.
It is intended to resume accepting visa applications as soon as safety concerns abate, however any resumption of services is subject to current health and safety advice in relation to the COVID 19 pandemic.