Minister Fitzgerald announces launch of joint visa initiative between Ireland and the United Kingdom

 

· Minister says Scheme will help attract business visitors and tourists to Ireland

· Visitors will travel freely within the Common Travel Area on a single visa

The Minister for Justice and Equality, Frances Fitzgerald, T.D., today (16th June, 2014) announced that the ‘British Irish Visa Scheme’ between Ireland and the United Kingdom will commence this autumn starting with China and India.

The British Irish Visa Scheme will allow for travel to and around the Common Travel Area (CTA) on a single visa. As matters stand, many overseas tourists and business visitors who wish to visit both Ireland and the UK, including Northern Ireland, need separate Irish and UK visas.

From the autumn the objective is that visitors from China and India will be able to travel freely within the Common Travel Area using either an Irish or UK visa. This will mean that tourists, business visitors etc. will be able, for the first time, to visit both Ireland and the UK, including Northern Ireland, on a single visa.

Minister Fitzgerald said the British Irish Visa Scheme, jointly initiated by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service of her Department and the UK Home Office, “Will make it easier and more attractive for visitors to visit Ireland and the UK and is expected to provide a major boost to tourism and business visitors.

“China and India will be the first to benefit from this groundbreaking Scheme and I look forward to the successful implementation of the new arrangements in respect of both of those countries.

The Minister emphasised that the Scheme “marked an historic development in the relationship between Ireland and the UK and in the operation of the Common Travel Area which has existed between the two countries since 1922.”

“Both countries are committed now more than ever before to working together on visa and border matters and the British Irish Visa Scheme reflects that unprecedented level of cooperation.”

“Building on the success of the Irish Short-stay Visa Waiver Programme introduced by the Government in July 2011, the British Irish Visa Scheme will enable both countries’ immigration systems to work in tandem to promote and facilitate legitimate tourism and business travel to Ireland and the UK while also strengthening the external borders of the Common Travel Area.”

“It is anticipated that this initiative will make a significant and lasting contribution to the economic prosperity and security of both our countries, including Northern Ireland as visitors to Ireland will now be able to visit Northern Ireland without having to obtain a separate UK visa.”

UK Home Secretary Theresa May who also announced the Scheme at an event in London said: “Our two governments are proud of what the UK and Ireland have to offer to Chinese and Indian visitors and we look forward to welcoming many more to our countries through this new Scheme.

 

“Joint initiatives such as this will help to attract more Chinese and Indian visitors to both the UK and Ireland, while also ensuring the robust management of our borders. We look forward to ongoing work with Ireland towards our shared objectives of promoting growth and preventing the abuse of our immigration systems.”

The technical and other arrangements to allow for the commencement of the Scheme in China and India this autumn are being progressed with the UK Home Office. As appropriate, the Irish authorities are also working with the authorities of the countries concerned on the practical implementation of the Scheme.

 

16 June 2014

 

 

Note for Editors

The British Irish Visa Scheme will first be available to nationals of China and India.

Further rollout of the Scheme to other countries will be agreed between the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service of the Department of Justice and Equality and the UK Home Office.

The British Irish Visa Scheme in practice – the Scheme will operate through a reciprocal visa arrangement, whereby Ireland and the UK recognise short-stay visas issued by the other for travel to their jurisdiction. This will allow the holder of such a visa issued by the country of first arrival thereafter to travel freely between Ireland and the UK, including Northern Ireland, for the duration of that visa.

For example, a visa required tourist who wishes to visit both Dublin and Belfast will be able to apply for an Irish short-stay visa which will allow them to travel directly to Dublin and then onwards to Northern Ireland without having to obtain a separate UK visa. Also if they are returning to Ireland following a visit to the UK, they will not require a re-entry visa.

The British Irish Visa Scheme will replace Ireland’s Short-stay Visa Waiver Programme, introduced in July, 2011, which has proved to be a significant success. That Programme allows nationals of 18 countries to travel from the UK to Ireland using their UK visa. The number of visitors from the countries in question grew by 68% from 2010 to 2013. The British Irish Visa Scheme will allow travel throughout the UK and Ireland, whereas the Irish Visa Waiver Programme allowed travel in one direction only.