Philip Lee warmly welcomes the announcement made by the Minister for Justice and Equality today that the current re-entry visa system will be abolished from 13 May 2019.
Prior to this announcement, visa-required nationals who had permission to remain in Ireland for the purposes of, for example, study or work nevertheless had to apply in advance for re-entry visas in order to travel in and out of Ireland during the course of their residence. The fee for a single journey re-entry visa was €60 and €100 for a multiple journey re-entry visa. In addition to the extra costs, the requirement to obtain re-entry visas placed additional burdens on persons and families required to complete the application process at regular intervals during their stay in Ireland.
From 13 May 2019, all visa required nationals who have registered with INIS or the Garda National Immigration Bureau (GNIB) and have permission to reside in the State will be able to use their Irish Residence Permit (IRP) card or GNIB card in lieu of a re-entry permit. These cards will be recognised by airlines, ferry companies and immigration authorities in other countries as evidence that the card holder has the right to travel to Ireland.
In the interim period, it will continue to be necessary for visa required nationals to have a valid re-entry visa to return to Ireland if travelling before 13 May. Anyone who has an outstanding application for a re-entry visa will have their application returned, together with a refund of the fee paid, and will be offered an in-person appointment where they will be issued a re-entry visa free of charge.
It is important to note that the abolition of the need for a re-entry visa does not benefit children under the age of 16 with a visa required nationality. Children currently are not required to register their immigration permission and so will not hold an IRP card of GNIB card by way of evidence of their permission to reside in Ireland. It is therefore the case that children under 16 will continue to need to hold a re-entry visa for travel into and out of Ireland with their family.
This reform does not affect visa required nationals who are: travelling to Ireland for the first time, prior to registration with the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS), or visiting Ireland for less than 90 days for example for holidays or business purposes.
This is a step towards INIS service improvement, an objective set out in their 2018-2020 Plan. It is a welcome reform that will save most visa required nationals time and money.