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Irish Short Stay Visa Waiver Programme temporarily suspended in Covid-19 measure

The Minister for Justice, Helen McEntee, has announced a temporary suspension of the Irish Short Stay Visa Waiver Programme (SSVWP).

The move is part of Covid-19 measures to restrict travel and protect public health.

The SSVWP allows people from a number of eastern European, Middle Eastern and Asian countries who have a short-term UK visa, to come to Ireland without the need for a separate Irish visa.  

Under the agreement, the visa holders had to leave Ireland before their permission to stay in the UK ended.  

The Department of Justice said in a statement that: “The suspension of the Programme is being implemented because of a divergence in approach between Ireland and the UK in travel measures to combat the pandemic.” 

The Department said the Programme applies to nationals of 17 countries: Bahrain, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, India, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Montenegro, Oman, People's Republic of China, Qatar, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, Uzbekistan.

They added that it does now affect the operation of the Common Travel Area and that UK authorities had been notified.

The statement added: “Nationals of the affected countries will no longer be in a position to use their UK short stay visa for a visit to Ireland, but may apply separately for an Irish visa, which under current circumstances would only be accepted if it was a critical case.

“It must be emphasised that this is a temporary measure, which does not affect the Common Travel Area rights of British and Irish citizens or the operation of the CTA.    

“The UK authorities have been notified of our intentions and do not have any concerns. The Programme is not a reciprocal arrangement.  

“The Programme was scheduled to run to end 31 October 2021 having been extended on a number of occasions since its introduction in July, 2011.” 

The Government is due to publish a green list later this month. That list will consist of countries where people have travelled from do not need to quarantine.

At present, anyone who flies into Ireland is required to self-isolate for 14-days.

The Government is presently is advising against all non-essential.

They said that the green list “will give clarity in respect of countries which are in a similar position to Ireland in terms of the disease”.