New migration and asylum measures introduced in response to COVID-19: 2021

10 Feb 2021

Recent developments 

On 22nd January, the Immigration Service Delivery updated its FAQ document on the ‘Impact of Covid-19 on Immigration and International Protection’ explaining the most recent updates to asylum and migration services in Ireland.

Citizenship, immigration registration and permissions

On 18th January, the Department of Justice announced the launch of a temporary measure allowing citizenship applicants to complete the naturalisation process by signing a declaration of loyalty to the State instead of attending an in person citizenship ceremony, all of which have been temporarily suspended due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Immigration permissions due to expire between 21st January 2021 and 20th April 2021 are again automatically extended. With effect from 23rd December 2020, the Registration Office at Burgh Quay is temporarily closed to the public for first time appointments. All registration renewals for persons residing in the Dublin area are being processed online. Registrations outside the Dublin area are processed by the Garda National Immigration Bureau through the Garda Station network.


With effect from 27th January, the Department of Justice announced the imposition of new visa requirements for passport holders from certain  South American countries and South Africa. New visa and preclearance applications are temporarily no longer being accepted, except for certain priority or emergency cases.

International protection applicants

The International Protection Office (IPO) announced on 4th January 2021 that the IPO will open on a limited basis and to new protection applicants only. All substantive interviews are postponed until further notice.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions the IPO stated it is operating with limited staff capacity and Temporary Residence Certificate (TRC) Renewal Appointments and call-backs are suspended. Applicants whose TRCs are due for renewal can apply online and will be issued a new card by post.

The International Protection Appeals Tribunal announced it will not hold hearings up to 5th March. Appeals scheduled from the 1st February 2021, which are deemed suitable, will proceed by way of audio-video link.

Employment permits

The Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment stated on 8th February 2021 that it is continuing to process applications for employment permits. However, given the new temporary visa arrangements, it may not be possible for individuals from visa required countries to travel to the State at this time unless the application is deemed to be priority/emergency.

International students

In line with the Framework for Restrictive Measures in Response to COVID-19 which requires all adult education to move all classes and learning online, the Department of Justice announced on 6th January 2021 that prospective English language students seeking to enter the State must wait to do so until in-person classes have resumed. Furthermore, anyone resident in Ireland with a student permission is required to attend scheduled classes and, in the current circumstances, this includes where classes are provided online.

EU Treaty Rights

On 15th January 2021, the Department of Justice announced that as a temporary measure applications for both EU Treaty Rights and Domestic Residence applications can be submitted by email together with copies of supporting documentation.


The Department of Justice stated that voluntary return applications are currently not being processed. However, interest in voluntary returns will be recorded.

Undocumented migrants

The Department of Justice confirmed in 2020 that it does not and will not seek any information from an immigration perspective from either the Department of Employment and Social Protection or the HSE for persons coming forward for social supports or medical attention. Any undocumented migrant should not hesitate about coming forward to access health care or social supports during the Covid-19 crisis.

Information sources

For more information, see:

Information regarding the Justice Sector Covid-19 plans

Information regarding Immigration Service Delivery and the FAQ

Information regarding International Accommodation Protection Centres

Information regarding the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment’s employment permit arrangements

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