UK, Ireland In Landmark Visa Cooperation Deal

By Fiona Moore, for 09 October, 2014

Ireland's Minister for Justice and Equality, Frances Fitzgerald, has heralded a new visa agreement between the UK and Ireland, which she said would create a "mini-Schengen Zone" between the two nations.

The initiative will enable non-EU persons to travel freely between Ireland and the United Kingdom if they have a visa to visit one or other of the countries. However, unlike the actual Schengen Zone in continental Europe, the British-Irish Visa Scheme will, in the first instance, only cover temporary visas and visitors from China and India. If all goes to plan, the Scheme will be rolled out to all countries from the end of 2015.

Speaking at the Irish Embassy in London, Fitzgerald said also that the UK has agreed to share its worldwide network of 200 visa application centers with Irish authorities. Applicants for Irish visas will be able to use the centers to lodge applications, make use of the courier and information services, and pay visa fees through their systems online.

The two countries will also share immigration data. Ireland intends to incorporate biometrics into the Irish visa application process and new systems are being put in place with the UK to facilitate the sharing and cross-checking of information.

Fitzgerald described the Visa Scheme as "a potent symbol of the transformation in British-Irish relations," and "an historic development in the operation of the Common Travel Area, which for almost the past one hundred years has been of immense political, social, and economic importance to both countries."

Tags: India | Ireland | China | United Kingdom | Fees | Expats | Travel | Visas And Passports |


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