What is a visa? A permission to travel to a State or land in it. It does not allow the visa holder to enter the State.
When travelling to Ireland some nationals require a visa whilst others are exempt from the obligation. Visa applications are generally made to the Irish embassy or consulate in the country from which the person wishes to travel.
If a visa is refused there is an appeals process in the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration service in Dublin.
There are two main types of visa:
- C visit visas allowing a stay up to 90 days and
- D reside visa allowing a stay over 90 days
Within these broad categories there are further types of visa such as atypical visas, business visas, visit or tourist visa, Irish citizen spouse visa, marriage visas etc.
The relevant legislation covering visas includes:
The Aliens Act 1935, the Immigration Acts 1999, 2003 and 2004 and the Immigration Act 2004 (Visas) Order 2014 (SI 473 of 2014).
It is important to understand that visa control is an executive power with a great deal of power in the hands of the Minister for Justice and Equality who can make orders regulating the need for visas.
The Minister is under no obligation to grant a visa save for family members of EU citizens pursuant to the EU Directive 2004/38/EC which gives the right of Union citizens and their family members to move and reside within Member States.
The definition of a visa is set out in the Immigration Act, 2003, section 1(1)
“Irish visa” means an endorsement made on a passport or travel document other than an Irish passport or Irish travel document for the purposes of indicating that the holder thereof is authorised to land in the State subject to any other conditions of landing being fulfilled;
You will note that this is only a permission to land in the State, not to enter it. An immigration officer has the power to refuse leave to land to a visa holder if the conditions in section 4 (3) of the Immigration Act 2004 apply.
Who requires a visa to enter Ireland?
SI 473/2014-Immigration Act 2004(Visas) Order 2014 sets out non-nationals who do not need an Irish visa to land in the State.
3. It is hereby declared that the following classes of non-nationals are specified as classes the members of which are not required to be in possession of a valid Irish visa when landing in the State:
(a) nationals of a state or territorial entity specified in Schedule 1;
(b) non-nationals who are holders of—
(i) a valid Convention travel document issued by Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovak Republic, Spain, Sweden, or Switzerland and where the intended purpose of the travel to the State by the holder of such a travel document is solely for a visit of up to a maximum period of 3 months,
(ii) a valid permanent residence card,
(iii) a valid residence card,
(iv) a valid travel document issued by the State for the purposes of Article 28 of the New York Convention, or
(v) a diplomatic passport issued by a state or territorial entity specified in Schedule 2;
(c) non-nationals who are family members of a Union citizen and holders of a document called “Residence card of a family member of a Union citizen” as referred to in Article 10 of the Directive of 2004;
(d) until 31 October 2016, United Kingdom visitors who are nationals of a state or territorial entity specified in Schedule 3 and where the intended purpose of the travel to the State by the United Kingdom visitor concerned is solely for a visit of the shorter of the following periods—
(i) 90days or less, or
(ii) the remaining period of validity of that person’s leave to enter the United Kingdom, or, as the case may be, leave to remain in the United Kingdom;
(e) United Kingdom visitors who are—
(i) nationals of a state or territorial entity specified in Schedule 4, and
(ii) holders of a visa issued by the competent authorities of the United Kingdom that is endorsed by those authorities with the letters “BIVS”,
where the intended purpose of the travel to the State by the United Kingdom visitor concerned is solely for a visit of the shorter of the following periods—
(I) 90days or less, or
(II) the remaining period of validity of that person’s leave to enter the United Kingdom, or, as the case may be, leave to remain in the United Kingdom;
(f) holders of a service passport or public affairs passport who arrive in the State in the company of a Minister of the Government of the People’s Republic of China where that Minister is on an official visit to the State;
(g) qualifying United Nations officials who are holders of a United Nations laissez-passer referred to in Section 24 of the United Nations Convention.
A non-national not in the list above requires a visa to travel to Ireland.
Family members of EU citizens who are visa required need to apply for a C visit visa. The Department of Justice and Equality’s “Policy Document on Non-EEA Family Reunification (2016) will apply.
Types of visas
- Short or C visit visas
- Long or D reside visas
- Transit visas
- British Irish Visa Scheme
- Short term visa waiver scheme
- Other visa waivers
- Re-entry visas
The Minister for Justice has discretion to grant or refuse a visa. The decision must be reasonable and rational and supported by evidence.
Mallak v Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform is an important decision in this area and the duty to give reasons.
The reasons can be
- Insufficient documentation
- Immigration history of the application
- Inconsistencies or contradictions in the application
- Relationship history (or absence thereof)
- Other reasons
A visa does not guarantee entry to the State, but it is a good indication of success.
Application must be made on the AVATS system which is an online application system. The documentation which will form part of the application will be sent to the Irish Embassy or Consulate or to a third-party agency who will handle documentation on behalf of the Department of Justice and Department of Foreign Affairs.
The decision will eventually issue by post to the applicant.