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Ireland Removes Russia & Belarus From Short Stay Visa Waiver Scheme.

Ireland will no longer recognise Russian travel documents issued in occupied foreign regions.

The Minister for Justice is today announcing an amendment to the Short Stay Visa Waiver Scheme in respect of citizens of the Russian Federation and Belarus.

Russia (left) & Belarus (right) flags flying side by side.

The Short-Stay Visa Waiver Programme is established under Article 3 of the Immigration Act 2004 (Visas) Order 2014 (S.I. No. 473 of 2014), as amended. The Short-Stay Visa Waiver Programme allows nationals of certain countries , who have entered the United Kingdom on foot of certain UK short stay visas, to travel to Ireland without the requirement to obtain an Irish visa. They instead may use the time remaining on their current leave to remain in the UK.

The Russian Federation and Belarus are currently listed, under Schedule 3 of the Order, as countries whose nationals may avail of this Scheme. The Cabinet has today noted that the Immigration Act 2004 (Visas) Order 2014 will be amended by the Minister for Justice to remove the Russian Federation and Belarus from the list of countries who may avail of this Scheme.

In announcing this change today the Minister for Justice, Mrs Helen McEntee T.D. stated, “The decision of the Russian Federation to invade Ukraine, and to recognise a number of non-government controlled areas, including Donetsk and Luhansk, as independent entities is a severe breach of international law. Ireland continues to support action at a European (EU) and United Nations (UN) level to call for an end to the unjustified war on Ukraine. With active Irish support, the EU has initiated the largest ever package of sanctions against the Russian leadership.

While, as a non-Schengen Member State, Ireland is not bound to comply with the Schengen approach. However as well as always requiring individual visa consideration for applications made directly to Ireland, I have today recommended to the Government that we fully align our policy on waiver of visas granted in the United Kingdom. I have now signed a Statutory Instrument to remove Russia and Belarus from the list of countries who may avail of the Short Stay Visa Waiver Programme in light of the continued Russian aggression against Ukraine.”

The Minister also announced that, in relation to the Russian practise of handing out ordinary Russian passports to residents of non-government controlled areas in Ukraine and Georgia; “The Government is clear that this is a grave infringement of international law and the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of both countries. In alignment with the approach being taken by the Schengen Member States, Irish authorities will not recognise Russian passports issued in occupied foreign regions for the purpose of issuing visas and crossing external borders.”

The Short-Stay Visa Waiver Programme will now only relate to the following: –
Bahrain, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Columbia, India, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Kosovo, Kuwait, Montenegro, Oman, People’s Republic of China, Peru, Philippines, Qatar, Republic of North Macedonia, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, Uzbekistan and Vietnam.

In relation to visa applications from Russian citizen, Ireland currently assesses all visa applications from Russian nationals on a case by case basis. Every application is assessed according to criteria appropriate to the category of visa sought and includes evidence of financial standing, health insurance, and where appropriate, an employment permit etc.
Checks are also carried out for any adverse immigration history or criminal record.

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