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While there has been a significant decrease in travel during the first few weeks of 2021 due to the ongoing spread of COVID-19 globally, travel into Ireland has not been fully suspended.
However, new measures have been introduced and any individual who does travel to Ireland is now required to show a negative result of a pre-departure PCR test taken within 72 hours of arrival in the State.
Children aged six and under are exempt from this requirement. In addition, prior to arrival in Ireland, individuals must complete the COVID-19 Passenger Locator Form and failure to do so is an offence.
Immigration permissions due to expire between 21 January and 19 April 2021 are automatically extended until 20 April 2021 due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
This also includes permissions extended under previous announcements. This is expected to be the final extension granted but will be reviewed closer to the time.
In line with current Level 5 restrictions, the registration office at Burgh Quay remains closed. Regional immigration offices continue to remain open however should be contacted in advance to arrange appointments where necessary.
All Citizenship ceremonies have been suspended due to COVID-19 however under temporary measures recently announced, qualifying applicants will be asked to complete a statutory declaration that will be sent to them by email from the Citizenship Division and which must be witnessed and signed by a listed designated official.
Final processing will take place and a certificate of naturalisation issued once the declaration along with the associated fee and supporting documentation is returned to the Citizenship division.
EU Treaty Rights and Domestic Residence applications are now being accepted via email as a temporary measure between 18 January and 30 April 2021.
The EU Treaty Rights Division will require the original application to be submitted by post in due course, while the Domestic Residence Unit may request original documentation to be submitted by post in due course.
In some non COVID-19 related updates, the Irish National Minimum Wage increased to €10.20 per hour from 1 January 2021.
Employers should ensure that remuneration packages for Intra Company Transfer and Contract for Services employment permits comply with the national minimum wage requirements. For those types of employment permits, the base salary in the home country must achieve the equivalent of the Irish National Minimum Wage.
Non EEA family members of UK nationals seeking to join their UK national family member in Ireland, will now need to seek preclearance from outside of Ireland prior to travelling here.
This applies to visa and non visa required nationals and the preclearance application is made online. This Scheme only applies to those UK nationals who have moved to Ireland post 31 December 2020.
If a UK national has been living in Ireland prior to 31 December 2020, then they and their family members continue to hold the same residence rights in Ireland.
Any individual falling into this category will be required to exchange their current valid Irish Residence Permit (IRP) for a new IRP stating that those residence rights derive from EU Free Movement under the Withdrawal Agreement.
This card exchange programme will apply from 1 January 2021 and can be done via the online renewal system. Individuals concerned will have until 31 December 2021 to apply.
The position with regard to COVID-19 is being monitored very closely by governments worldwide. We can expect further announcements from the Irish immigration authorities over the coming months as the pandemic evolves.
Please do not hesitate to contact any member of our team, or your usual PwC Ireland contact at any stage as we would be happy to tell you more about the topics raised here.