Tuesday 25 October 2016

UK vote leads to spike in applications for our visas

Published 20/07/2016 | 02:30

Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald. Photo: Tom Burke
Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald. Photo: Tom Burke
Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald Photo: Tom Burke

A huge rise in the number of non-EU citizens seeking Irish visas on the back of relatives already living in another EU member state has been linked to Brexit.

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Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald has alerted the Cabinet to the trend, which began last year.

The Irish Independent understands Ms Fitzgerald told her colleagues the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) has noticed a spike in applications from "qualifying family members" who wish to travel to Ireland under the terms of a 2004 EU Directive.

If granted, the visa allows a person to reside freely within the territory of the EU.

Just 1,763 applications of this nature were made to the INIS in 2014, but this rose to 10,000 last year. So far in 2016, there have been 5,000 applications. The "significant increase" is likely to be linked to the UK referendum on leaving the EU.

The Justice Minister raised her concerns on a number of occasions in discussions with the UK Home Office. Ms Fitzgerald spoke to the former UK Immigration Minister James Brokenshire on the margins of an EU meeting on June 9. Mr Brokenshire has since been appointed Secretary of State for Northern Ireland.

Irish Independent

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