Ministers Humphreys and Browne announce changes to priority/emergency visas

  • Visa applications will now be accepted for essential family reunification
  • Applications also accepted from people who have been granted an employment permit and are travelling for essential business or employment purposes

20 May 2021

The Minister for Justice, Heather Humphreys TD, and the Minister of State for Law Reform, Youth Justice and Immigration, James Browne TD, have today announced that two new categories have been added to the priority/emergency list of visas being processed at this time.

Visa applications will now be accepted from people who are seeking to join their family members in Ireland, and from those who are travelling for essential business or employment purposes and have been issued with an employment permit by the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment.

Announcing the changes, Minister Humphreys said,

“Throughout the pandemic, measures on travel taken by the Government have sought to balance the urgent need to protect public health with the need to facilitate essential travel and to sustain connectivity into and out of Ireland. We remain fully supportive of the general policy against non-essential travel.

“However, we also recognise that the travel restrictions have been difficult for everyone involved, and we are now making some small adjustments to support essential family reunification and essential business needs.”

“From today, we will resume processing all Long Stay ‘D’ Visa join family applications and preclearance applications, including for De Facto Partners of Irish Nationals, and Critical Skills Employment Permit Holders. I know that this news will come as a welcome relief to the families who will benefit from these new arrangements”.

“There is welcome news too for businesses that have been hit hard by the pandemic. Applications will also be accepted from people who have been granted an employment permit and are travelling for essential business or employment purposes.”

Outlining the new arrangements for employment permit holders, Minister Browne said,

“Expanding the priority categories to include people granted employment permits by the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment gives a key signal to employers that Ireland remains open for business. 

“As we begin to reopen our economy, it is more important than ever that we support business endeavours. As Minister of State for Immigration, I want to ensure that we are playing our part in achieving this.

“These measures were introduced on public health grounds for the safety of all. However, I fully appreciate how difficult it is to be separated from family or loved ones at this time, and I hope that today’s announcement will bring comfort and relief to those who have been affected.”

The decision to temporarily cease accepting new visa/preclearance applications, with the exception of priority or emergency applications, applies to all countries and has been in place since 29 January 2021. No short stay visa applications are currently being accepted, except for cases that fall under the Emergency/Priority criteria.

All travellers arriving into Ireland must continue to comply fully with the public health measures required by law, including completing a COVID-19 Passenger Locator Form, pre-arrival PCR test and quarantine in a designated facility or at home, as appropriate. 

The situation will continue to be reviewed in consultation with the relevant authorities in the coming weeks.



Notes for Editors:

The Priority/Emergency cases that will continue to be accepted and processed include the following:

  • People travelling for business/employment purposes and granted an employment permit by Department of Enterprise Trade and Employment to meet an enterprise’s key business;
  • patients travelling for imperative medical reasons;
  • transport workers or transport service providers, including drivers of freight vehicles carrying goods for use in the territory as well as those merely transiting;
  • pupils, students and trainees who travel abroad on a daily basis and Third-country nationals travelling for the purpose of 3rd level study;
  • Join Family applications;
  • Preclearance applications from De Facto Partner of an Irish National, De Facto Partner of a Critical Skills Employment Permit Holder, or of a non EEA Researcher on a Hosting Agreement and Family members looking to join a UK National in Ireland;
  • persons travelling for imperative family or business reasons;
  • Persons entitled to avail of the provision of the EU Free Movement Directive;
  • diplomats, staff of international organisations and people invited by international organisations whose physical presence is required for the well-functioning of these organisations, military personnel and police officers, and humanitarian aid workers and civil protection personnel in the exercise of their functions;
  • passengers in transit;
  • seafarers;
  • journalists, when performing their duties.

People seeking to join family members will include all Long Stay ‘D’ Visa join family applications (including third country national family members of Irish nationals and persons exercising free movement under the EU Directive), and Preclearance applications for: De Facto Partners of an Irish National; De Facto Partners of a Critical Skills Employment Permit Holder, or of a non EEA Researcher on a Hosting Agreement; and non EEA family members looking to join a UK National in Ireland.

The framework for the restrictive travel measures is set out in the Government’s Resilience and Recovery: Plan for Living with COVID-19. When making such decisions, the Government considers the expert public health advice of the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) to tackle the disease. The Department intends to resume accepting all applications as soon as safety concerns abate.


Departemt of Justice and Equality
Government of Ireland
Government of Ireland
European Union AMIF
Departemt of Justice and Equality
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