• Monday, July 15, 2024
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Visa-free entry ends for South Africans and Batswana visiting Ireland

Visa-free entry ends for South Africans and Batswana visiting Ireland

Nationals of Botswana and South Africa will be required to obtain visas before travelling to Ireland starting July 10.

This significant policy change, announced by the Irish Department of Justice, also mandates transit visas for citizens of these two countries when passing through Ireland to other destinations.

The new visa requirements are part of a broader alignment with the Schengen zone’s policies and the United Kingdom’s stance on South African nationals.

Read also: 12 things to know before moving to Ireland

Helen McEntee Minister for Justice of Ireland, described the decision as “carefully considered” to enhance Ireland’s immigration controls.

The minister emphasized that the visa system is a crucial component of Ireland’s immigration strategy, determining eligibility for travel to the country.

“Irish visa requirements are kept under ongoing review, having regard for the need to ensure that effective immigration controls are in place whilst also facilitating those who wish to travel to Ireland for the purposes of a visit, to work, to study, or to join family members,” she said.

While the new rules impose additional travel hurdles, certain exemptions will be made.

Notably, diplomatic passport holders from South Africa will not be subject to the new visa requirements.

Additionally, transitional arrangements are in place for nationals from Botswana and South Africa who have already made travel plans before July 10.

These individuals will be allowed to travel to Ireland under the existing rules until August 9, 2024.

To facilitate the visa application process for South African nationals, the Dublin Visa Office will establish a dedicated South Africa desk.

Furthermore, three Visa Application Centers (VACs) will be set up throughout South Africa in partnership with the visa service provider VFS Global.

The policy shift also responds to the recent surge in International Protection applications from Botswana and South Africa.

Read also: Ireland sees 20% surge in 2024 work permits, Nigerians receive 2.5%

The Ministry of Justice highlighted that both countries are classified as safe countries of origin for International Protection purposes.

“A wide range of factors are taken in account when introducing visa requirements to ensure we can continue to facilitate travel with processes that are robust, effective, and fair.” Helen emphasised.

Despite this designation, these two nations were previously not subject to visa requirements.

The ministry reported a significant decline in applications from Botswana after the country was added to the safe countries list, noting a 71 per cent decrease.