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Irish Short Stay Visa Waiver Programme

If you hold a UK short-stay visa, you may be able to travel to Ireland under the Irish short-stay visa waiver programme without having a separate Irish visa.

For further information on the Irish short-stay visa waiver program and immediate help with your immigration situation, call us at 0333 305 9375. We can help you in person, via phone, or online.

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    Benefits of Choosing IAS Ireland Immigration Lawyers

    When it comes to obtaining an Ireland visa or permit, IAS Ireland immigration lawyers are well-equipped to help you.

    With IAS’ track record of successfully helping clients visit or immigrate to Ireland successfully, we can help you achieve your goal.

    Our dedicated immigration lawyers provide our services through a comprehensive and personalised approach. With IAS, you enjoy:

    Compassionate support from an experienced immigration lawyer dedicated to your success

    Support in gathering supporting documents and completing a high-quality application.

    Confidence that your case is being handled by an experienced team.

    In-house document checks done by lawyers who are well-versed in Ireland immigration matters.

    Regardless of what your Ireland immigration query might be, IAS is here to help and support you. Call us or enquire online to learn more about how we can help you.

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    What Is a Short-Stay Visa Waiver Programme?

    The Irish short-stay visa waiver program is one of Ireland’s visa exemption schemes. It allows foreign citizens of certain countries who hold a UK short-stay visa, such as a Visitor Visa, to enter Ireland without obtaining an Irish visa. 

    If you’re visiting Ireland under this program, you must first have permission to visit the UK and use your visa to enter the UK before travelling to Ireland. Once you’re in Ireland, you’ll be eligible to stay up to 90 days or until the end of the validity of your UK visa, whichever is shorter.

    It’s essential to note that British citizens can already travel freely between Ireland and the UK. As such, even if you’re from one of the eligible countries and have a British passport, you can enter Ireland without taking advantage of the short-stay visa waiver program.

    Who is Eligible for the Short-stay Visa Waiver Programme?

    To be eligible for the Ireland short-stay visa waiver program, you must meet the following requirements:

    • You must be a citizen of one of the countries eligible for the program.
    • You must hold a valid UK short-stay visa that allows you to enter the UK for not more than 180 days. 
    • You have gained lawful entry into the UK using your short-stay visa during its 180-day validity period. 
    • Your intended visit to Ireland will end before your leave to enter or leave to remain in the UK ends. 

    If you meet the eligibility requirements, you can travel either directly from the UK to Ireland or from a third country to Ireland as long as you have already been in the UK within your visa’s validity period. 

    Eligible Countries for Ireland Visa Waiver Program

    The visa waiver program covers only nationals of the following countries:

    Asia: India, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, People’s Republic of China, Philippines, Thailand, Uzbekistan, and Vietnam.

    Eastern Europe: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, Republic of North Macedonia, Serbia, Türkiye, and Ukraine.

    Middle East: Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia.

    South America: Colombia and Peru.

    For China, passport holders from Hong Kong and Macau Special Administrative Regions can already travel to Ireland visa-free and will not need the visa waiver program. Also, Ukrainians can enter Ireland visa-free as of the time of writing (May 2024). 

    Furthermore, under this program, citizens from Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman and Qatar holding a UK Electronic Visa Waiver (EVW) will not be allowed to enter Ireland from a third country even if they have already been in the UK. They can only participate in the program if they enter Ireland directly from the UK.

    Permitted UK Visas for Visa Waiver Programme Ireland

    Not every UK visa holder can enter Ireland under the short-stay visa program. Only those holding certain short-stay visas with an allowable stay period of not more than 180 days can participate. 

    This includes individuals on the following visas:

    • Standard Visitor Visa for tourist, visit, academic, medical, and business purposes only.
    • Permitted Paid Engagement Visa
    • Short-term Study Visa 

    The program excludes individuals on the following visas:

    • Transit Visa 
    • Marriage Visitor Visa
    • Fiance Visa
    • Long-term work, study, or family visas.

    Our team of legal experts can help you obtain an Irish Short Stay Visa.

    What are the Conditions for the Visa Waiver Programme?

    Under the Ireland short-stay visa waiver program, you must show that you have made a prior lawful entry into the UK before you can enter Ireland. You can do so by showing the entry stamp on your passport from the UK border control to the Irish immigration authorities.

    Your trip to Ireland must occur within the validity period of your current UK visa or permission to stay. Thus, if you returned home or entered another country after visiting the UK but your permission to stay is still valid, you can travel directly to Ireland, as long as your entire trip falls within the allowed time frame of your UK permission.

    Additionally, there’s no requirement to spend a minimum amount of time in the UK before travelling to Ireland.

    While in Ireland, you are not allowed to work or engage in paid employment. You can only participate in tourism, visit family and friends, attend conferences, and engage in any unpaid business activity.

    How to Use the Visa Waiver Programme

    You must first obtain an appropriate UK short-stay visa to participate in the visa waiver program. Begin by visiting the UK government website to make a visa application. 

    You will be required to submit some supporting documents, including the following:

    • A valid passport
    • Two passport-sized photographs
    • Evidence of financial support
    • Letter of invitation from your host in the UK
    • Letter explaining the reason for your trip
    • A return ticket to your home country
    • Proof of adequate accommodation
    • Proof of no criminal record

    Once you’ve obtained your UK visa, you can then travel to the UK. At the border control, the immigration authorities will stamp your passport, indicating that you have lawfully entered the UK. Then, you can travel to Ireland anytime as long as your permission to stay in the UK is valid. 

    When you arrive in Ireland, you must also be granted permission to enter at the Irish port of entry. Having a valid UK visa and meeting all the requirements does not automatically permit you to enter Ireland.

    You will need to show your entry stamp from the UK and might need to answer questions about the purpose of your trip to an Irish immigration officer. If they are satisfied with your response, you’ll be issued an entry stamp on your passport with a date indicating how long you can stay. 

    Make the application process easier with the help of our immigration team.

    How Long Can I Stay in Ireland?

    The short-stay visa waiver scheme allows you to visit Ireland for up to 90 days or until the time left on your UK permission to stay, whichever is shorter.

    So, if your UK visa is valid for 180 days and you have spent 120 days already in the UK, you can only stay in Ireland for 60 days. If you have only stayed in the UK for 20 days, you can only visit Ireland for 90 days, not 160. 

    How Can IAS Help?

    The Irish short-stay visa waiver program is only available to citizens from a few countries and depends on individuals holding a UK short-stay visa. If you intend to visit Ireland under the waiver program, our lawyers at IAS can help you. 

    We are experts in UK and Irish immigration laws and have helped thousands of clients with their visa applications. We can advise you on your eligibility for the short-stay visa waiver program and help with your visa application. 

    To learn more about how we can help you or get started with your application, call us at 0333 305 9375.

    We offer immigration advice sessions as face to face appointments at all of our UK offices, or via the phone.

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    Frequently Asked Questions

    Under the visa waiver program, you can’t extend your stay in Ireland, as you are expected to return to the UK or your home country at the end of the validity period. However, you may be able to extend your UK short-stay visa under exceptional circumstances.

    If you hold a diplomatic or special passport and can travel to the UK visa-free, you can enter Ireland under the short-stay visa waiver program if you have the appropriate exempt vignette or a UK entry stamp on your passport. 

    The visa waiver will apply if you travel from Northern Ireland to Ireland. In this case, you only need a UK short-stay visa. However, if Ireland is your first country of entry and you visit Northern Ireland, you will need an Irish and a UK visa.

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