By Aileen Gittens

Entry Visas To Be Required For Nationals of South Africa & Botswana

Entry Visas To Be Required For Nationals of South Africa & BotswanaThe Minister for Justice has announced that entry visas for Ireland will be required for nationals of South Africa and Botswana, from this Wednesday 10th July 2024. 

This will be a significant change for nationals of both countries who wish to travel to Ireland. It will undoubtedly mean a more lengthy and burdensome process. 

Employment permit holders, for example, will need to apply for an “employment visa” to enter the State to take up work in accordance with their permit, if they are a citizen of either South Africa or Botswana. 

Usually, employment visas take in the region of 6-8 weeks to be processed by the relevant Embassy. Applicants are advised not to book flights until such time as their visa is granted. Visa applications are often refused. An appeal can be submitted within 2 months of the date of the refusal of a visa application. However, often the processing time for visa appeals is significant. For example, employment visa appeals that are processed in Dublin currently have a processing time of approximately 1 year and 5 months. 

The Minister has announced that the Dublin Visa Office will establish a “dedicated ‘South Africa desk’ to process applications from South African nationals.” Further, three Visa Applications Centres (VACs), located throughout South Africa, will be established with the visa service provider VFS Global, to whom the Department of Justice subcontract certain elements of visa application processing. 

The Department have also stated that transitional arrangements will be put in place for nationals of Botswana and South Africa who have existing arrangements (made before 10 July 2024) to travel to the State, until 9th August 2024. 

The Minister’s announcement states that the rationale for this change is to bring Ireland into closer alignment with the Schengen Area in respect of both countries, and into line with the UK in respect of South Africa. 

Further, the Minister’s statement outlines that in recent years, a significant number of International Protection applicants have been from Botswana and South Africa. The statement outlines that both countries are designated as “safe countries” of origin for International Protection purposes and “are the only countries on that list which are not currently visa required”. 

The Minister recently announced her intention to bring Brazil, Egypt, India, Malawi and Morocco onto the “safe countries” of origin list. Brazil is not currently a “visa-required” country, and so it remains to be seen if this will also change once it is added to the “safe country” list, in line with the above rationale. 

If you need any assistance with regard to any type of visa application or appeal, or if you have questions regarding how this change will affect you or a family member, we would be happy to help you. 

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