Alan Shatter TD, Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence announces Ireland’s first formal Visa Waiver Programme as an integral part of the Government’s Job Initiative
The Government today has approved a proposal from Alan Shatter TD, Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence to introduce Ireland’s first formal Visa Waiver Programme. This Programme, which forms an integral part of the Government’s Job Initiative, is a major change in public policy in the immigration area. It is designed to assist in the promotion of Ireland as a quality tourist destination for markets which hitherto would not have been regarded as traditional source countries for tourism to Ireland.
Speaking at the announcement this evening, Minister Shatter said that “our economic difficulties also present us with opportunities; it gives us a chance to take a fresh look at what we do and how we do it. Dismantling barriers which act as a disincentive to potential and sought after visitors is a case in point. This Visa Waiver Programme is a very significant initiative in the area of visa liberalisation. It will have real and tangible benefits for the nationals of the 14 or so countries (who currently require a visa to come here) participating in the scheme and it will provide a much needed shot in the arm for the hard pressed tourist industry which accounts for such significant employment in the State. Last year approximately, 30,000 people were issued visas from the participating countries to come here; those visitors helped to provide and maintain jobs in our economy. With this measure we anticipate that we can grow this market and thereby generate more jobs.”
Nationals of 14 countries – who ordinarily need a visa to enter the State (at a cost of €60) – who obtain a visa to enter the UK for a short term visa will not, for the duration of the programme, be required to obtain a visa for Ireland. In addition, special arrangements will be put in place to facilitate visits by nationals of these 14 countries who are long-term residents in the UK. The Programme will be implemented on a pilot basis until the end of October 2012.
The list of countries to which the programme applies at this stage is at Appendix 1.
A new statutory instrument is being drafted to give effect to the Programme with a start of the 1 July 2011.
The practical effects of this initiative are:
* Individuals who avail of the Programme will not be required to pay the visa charge of €60 per person. For example, for a family of four, say from India, which travels to London for the Olympics next year and which would like to have a ‘side-trip’ to Ireland, participation in this Programme will result in a saving of €240 to them.
Speaking at the launch Minister Shatter said, “This initiative is taking place in the context of the Common Travel Area between Ireland and the UK – a cornerstone of the significant relationship across the entire spectrum of our shared interests in economic and social policy, as well as in trade cultural and security issues. Its existence is indispensable to tens of thousands of people on this island as they go about their daily lives; today’s announcement will serve to further underscore that close relationship and our common interest in protecting, nurturing and enhancing it. The common travel area in good times and not so good times has delivered immense value to our nation. I see today’s initiative as another significant step on that road.
My message today as Minister with responsibility for Immigration is entirely consonant with that of my colleagues in the economic departments. Ireland is very much open for business; the measures I am putting in place are designed to ensure that we make it as easy as possible for the genuine tourist or short stay visitor to come here to avail of the excellent world class product we have to offer in the hospitality sector.
I am certain that the tourist industry which is such a major contributor to our economic well being and the provider of tens of thousands of jobs will avail of the exciting potential of this new departure in public policy in the immigration area.”
In conclusion, Minister Shatter said he will shortly be bringing forward new proposals to make Ireland an attractive immigration investor destination. These proposals are being worked upon at the moment and will provide scope for further employment opportunities in due course.
Finally, the Minister said that his Department had recently finalised new immigration procedures for cruise-liners visiting Ireland which will facilitate the easy embarkation of visitors at ports of entry.
List of countries to which the Visa Waiver Programme will apply:
Nationals from Eastern Europe
Other Asian Countries