The Short-stay Visa Waiver Programme was announced by the Government as part of its Jobs Initiative with a view to promoting tourism from emerging markets. It is due to commence on 1 July 2011. This programme commenced on 1st July 2011 and is scheduled to run until 31st October 2016.
The main points of the programme are:
• Nationals of the following countries are proposed for inclusion in the programme:
• Belarus, Montenegro, Russian Federation, Serbia, Turkey and Ukraine
• India, Kazakhstan , Peoples Republic of China, Uzbekistan
• Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates
Only passport holders of those countries are included in the scheme. Long-term residents in those countries, who are not nationals of that country, are not covered.
• Please note an Irish Visa cannot be used under any circumstances to enter the UK (including Northern Ireland)
• If you wish to travel to Ireland and do not have a current valid UK Visa, and have no need to apply for a UK Visa, you must apply for an Irish Visa in order to enter Ireland.
• Nationals of the countries above, who are long-term legal residents in the UK, will still require an Irish visa, and can apply at the Irish Embassy in London. Their visa fee will be waived as part of the programme
• “General visas”(C Visa) cover short-term visit, tourist and business visitors. Other types of visa, for example transit visas, long-term student visas, employment, join spouse or family reunification visas, are not encompassed. – UK Transit Visa holders will still have to apply for their Irish Visa at the accredited Irish Embassy/Consulate for their country of nationality.
• Holders of UK “general visas” who have been successfully admitted entry to the UK, will be able to travel to Ireland within the period of validity of that visa without the requirement to obtain a separate Irish visa. UK “General Visas” are virtually all multiple entry visas and the vast majority are valid for use for a period of 6 months. A small percentage of “General Visas” are valid for use for a period of 1 year, 2 years, or in exceptional cases 5 years. The maximum period of validity of stay of all such visas is 180 days. i.e. You cannot stay longer in the UK than 180 days in any single visit, or a total of 180 days as a combined total of visits in any 1 year period. The maximum stay in Ireland will be 90 days, or to the end of the period of validity of the visa, whichever is the shorter. Overall, it is not envisaged that anyone could stay for longer than a combined total of 180 days in a year in the Ireland/UK Common Travel Area,
In order to avail of this programme, you must have the following:
• A valid UK “General Visa” that is still valid at the proposed date of travel to Ireland.
• This UK “General Visa” must have been used on the first occasion of use to enter the UK (not Transit). You must successfully pass through UK Passport Control in the appropriate Airport/Ferryport/Railway station in the UK. You do not have to stay in the UK for any minimum period. Lawful entry will be attested by the appropriate entry stamp of the UK Border Agency. Therefore, transit passengers through the UK to Ireland, who do not pass through immigration in the UK, will still require an Irish visa, where their current valid UK Visa has not been previously validated for entry to the UK.
• The persons travelling to Ireland under the programme will be treated at their Irish port of entry just as they would have been previously if arriving with an Irish visa i.e. their passport will be further stamped by immigration officers at the Irish port of entry with an entry stamp and a date until which the visitor is allowed to stay. Visitors will have to satisfy immigration officers as to the purpose of their visit in the normal way.
• It should be stressed that the need for a visa to visit Ireland is not eliminated by this programme. Visitors from visa-required countries will still require a visa as outlined below:
Those who do not have a current valid UK visa which has been used to enter the UK will still require an Irish visa.
A UK visa will be required for travel to Ireland via the UK.
What is eliminated by this programme is the need to have both an Irish and UK visa when visiting Ireland via the UK, on a first occasion, or subsequent occasion where the valid UK Visa has already been validated for entry to the UK on at least one occasion.
On subsequent visits to Ireland, holders of a valid UK visa, which has been already used for entry to the UK, may travel to Ireland directly or via another country, e.g UK/Schengen/3rd country.
A person may return to Ireland within the period of validity of the UK visa but will not be able to stay in Ireland for more than 90 days in any one visit. As above, the immigration officer at port of entry has the ultimate decision on the length of stay.
The following situation applies for persons travelling between Ireland and Northern Ireland:
Where they do not have a current valid UK Visa that was previously used for to enter the UK, (including Northern Ireland):
If arriving in Ireland (whether directly, via UK Transit or Schengen/3rd Country), and then travelling to Northern Ireland , both an Irish and UK visa will be required, as is the case at present.
If arriving in Ireland, travelling to Northern Ireland, and then returning to Ireland, both an Irish and UK visa will be required but the UK visa will be accepted under the programme for the return visit
If arriving in Northern Ireland (via other UK/Schengen3rd country) and travelling to Ireland, the UK visa will suffice for the trip.
If arriving in Northern Ireland, travelling to Ireland and then returning to Northern Ireland, the UK Visa will suffice for the trip.
Where they have a current valid UK Visa that was previously used for to enter the UK, (including Northern Ireland) -2nd or subsequent trips:
If arriving in Ireland (whether directly, via UK Transit or Schengen/3rd Country), and then travelling to Northern Ireland, the UK visa will suffice for the entire trip.
If arriving in Ireland, travelling to Northern Ireland and then returning to Ireland, the UK visa will suffice for the entire trip.
If arriving in Northern Ireland (via other UK/Schengen/3rd country) and travelling to Ireland, the UK visa will suffice for the entire trip.
If arriving in Northern Ireland, travelling to Ireland and then returning to Northern Ireland, the UK visa will suffice for the trip.
• The person may travel out of the Common Travel Area from either Ireland or the UK but this must happen before the expiry of the stamp issued by the immigration officer on arrival in Ireland (if leaving from Ireland) or the expiration of the UK visa (if leaving from the UK).
Q. I have a new unused UK Visa, but would firstly like to make a trip to Ireland for 1 week before I go to the UK. I hope to fly into London and then transit onwards to Dublin. Do I need an Irish Visa?
A. Yes, you are not proposing to enter the UK, only transit it, therefore you must have a valid Irish Visa
Q. I have a new unused UK Visa and would like to go to Ireland first. I am hoping to fly direct to Ireland or via a Schengen/3rd country to get there. Do I need an Irish Visa?
A. Yes. You have not entered the UK, therefore you cannot use this visa to try and enter Ireland beforehand.
Q. I spent 2 weeks in the UK on holidays on my UK Visa and I will like to visit Ireland for 1 week before returning to Russia. Do I need to have an Irish Visa?
A. No, you have successfully entered the UK; therefore you can use the UK Visa to present yourself for entry to Ireland. You do not need to apply for an Irish Visa.
Q. I visited the UK 3 months ago and returned back to Russia. I have been invited by a friend to visit Ireland next month, and hope to fly directly there or via UK/ Schengen/3rd country. My UK Visa is still valid for 3 months. Do I need to apply for an Irish Visa?
A. No, you have been previously successfully cleared to enter the UK on this visa, therefore you can use this visa to present yourself for entry to Ireland, either travelling direct to Ireland or transiting a UK/Schengen/3rd country airport
Q I am on a long term resident’s visa in the UK and would like to visit Ireland. Do I need a visa to do so?
A. Yes, this scheme does not apply to holders of UK Long Term visas. You must apply for an Irish Visa at the Irish Embassy in London
Q. I have spent 150 days in the UK and would like to visit Ireland. Will I get 90 days to stay in Ireland?
A. The length of time you get to stay in a country is decided by the Immigration officer at the port of entry. On the basis of a maximum allowable stay of 90 days in Ireland and 180 in UK and a combined total of 180 days, within the Irish/UK Common Travel Area, it is likely that you will only be given a maximum of 30 days to stay in Ireland.
Q. I am a tour operator and am organising a tour group to travel to a Schengen country first, then, the UK and finally Ireland. Will I need an Irish Visa?
A. If your group are entering the UK first before going to Ireland, you will not need an Irish Visa. A Schengen Visa is not valid for entry to Ireland though.
Q. I am a tour operator and would like to bring a tour group to Ireland first and then the UK. Will I need an Irish Visa?
A. Yes, unless individual members of the group have a current valid UK visa, that will be valid on the date of the trip to Ireland and they have already used that visa at least once to enter the UK, they will have to apply for Irish Visas.
Q. I travelled to the UK on my UK Visa and afterwards made a short trip to Ireland also, on this same visa. My UK visa is expired, and I am applying for a new UK visa and would like to visit Ireland first this time. I think I do not need an Irish visa on this occasion. Am I correct?
A. You are incorrect. If you wish to travel to Ireland, you will have to make at least one successful trip to the UK in order to validate this new visa. Only then can you use it to go to Ireland. Otherwise, if you wish to go to Ireland first, you will have to apply for an Irish visa.