Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Justice the criteria that will apply for the end to the suspension of the visit a family and friend class C visa and the de facto partner of an Irish national visa which have been suspended since March 2020; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16562/21]
804. Deputy Cormac Devlin asked the Minister for Justice when the suspension of visit a family and friend class C visa and de facto partner of an Irish national visas will be lifted under the plan to reopen the economy and society; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16808/21]
839. Deputy Jennifer Carroll MacNeill asked the Minister for Justice the criteria under which the issuing of class C visas will resume as normal; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [17555/21]
Minister for Justice (Deputy Helen McEntee): I propose to take Questions Nos. 797, 804 and 839 together.
The decision to temporarily cease accepting new visa/preclearance applications, with the exception of Priority or Emergency applications, applies to all countries and has been in place since 29 January 2021. Applications which were received prior to 29 January 2021, will continue to be processed. However, unless the application meets the Emergency or Priority criteria, a visa or preclearance approval letter will not issue until such time as these restrictions have been lifted.
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.
The framework for these restrictive measures is set out in the Government’s Resilience and Recovery: Plan for Living with COVID 19. When making such decisions, the Government considers the expert public health advices of NPHET to tackle the disease.
The Immigration Service of my Department intends to resume accepting applications as soon as safety concerns abate. Information on the types of visas being processed is available by visiting our website at: http://www.inis.gov.ie/en/INIS/Pages/updates-announcements.
The situation will continue to be reviewed in consultation with the relevant authorities in the coming weeks.