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Ireland Introduces New Visa Regulations For South Africans To Restrict Illegitimate Migration

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As a measure toward harmonizing the immigration policy of the nation with that of the Schengen Area and the United Kingdom, the Irish government has announced that nationals of South Africa will have to secure a visa before travelling to Ireland.

The Irish government has announced that South African nationals will have to secure a visa before travelling to Ireland. This is a measure toward harmonising the immigration policy of the nation with that of the Schengen Area and the United Kingdom.

The new directive, which takes effect on July 10, 2024, will also allow South African citizens to get a transit visa if they are transiting in Ireland en route to another country.

In an announcement yesterday, the Irish Minister for Justice, Helen McEntee, said the decision was to make sure proper immigration controls are put in place while at the same time facilitating who would wish to travel to Ireland.

The Department of Justice cited one of the main drivers for devising the new visa requirements stemming from increased applications for International Protection from visitors holding South African and Botswanan passports.

Both are classified as “safe countries of origin” regarding asylum, but they are the only two that have not previously required visas to travel to Ireland.

In recognition that many people will have already made their travel arrangements well in advance, transitional arrangements will be in operation until August 9 2024.

McEntee said visa policy in Ireland was constantly reviewed to ensure effective immigration control balanced with facilitating legitimate travel for visits, work, study, and family reunification.

In light of the new rules, the Dublin Visa Office will set up a “South Africa desk” to process South African nationals’ applications. Three Visa Application Centres (VACs) will also be set up in South Africa in collaboration with the visa service provider Global VFS.

All holders of diplomatic passports in South Africa will be exempted from the new requirements, and corresponding measures have been established for Irish diplomats travelling to South Africa.

The Department of Justice further advised that all citizens of South Africa and Botswana who have travel arrangements already confirmed consult the website of the Irish Immigration Service for information.

According to reports, recent Irish Department of Justice data showed 198 such asylum applications, with rapidly increasing instances of “misuse” by nationals of Zimbabwe and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The recent crackdown on fraudulent immigration practices in South Africa led to several high-profile busts of syndicates and tighter security measures by the Department of Home Affairs to restore document integrity.

As a result, travellers from Bangladesh and Pakistan are now required to obtain visas when transiting through South Africa.

Despite these new regulations, the Henley Passport Index indicates that South Africans can still travel visa-free to 108 countries, including Ireland, for the time being.

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