Minister McEntee announces new visa requirements for South African and Botswana nationals

Minister McEntee announces new visa requirements for South African and Botswana nationals

From Department of Justice

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The Minister for Justice Helen McEntee has today announced that, with effect from Wednesday 10 July 2024, nationals of Botswana and South Africa will be required to obtain a visa before travelling to Ireland. A transit visa will also be required, if intending to transit through Ireland en-route to another destination.


Speaking today, Minister McEntee said:

“This is a carefully considered decision which will bring Ireland into closer alignment with the Schengen Area in respect of both of these countries, and into line with the UK in respect of South Africa.

“Irish visa requirements are kept under ongoing review, having regard for the need to ensure that effective immigration controls are in place whilst also facilitating those who wish to travel to Ireland for the purposes of a visit, to work, to study, or to join family members.”


In recent years, a significant number of International Protection applications have been received from nationals of Botswana and South Africa. Both countries are designated as safe countries of origin for International Protection purposes and are the only countries on that list which are not currently visa required.


The Dublin Visa Office will establish a dedicated ‘South Africa desk’ to process applications from South African nationals. The Department will also establish three Visa Applications Centres (VACs), located throughout South Africa, with visa service provider VFS Global .


On this point, Minister McEntee added:

“The visa system is an essential part of our immigration system to determine who can travel to Ireland.

“A wide range of factors are taken in account when introducing visa requirements to ensure we can continue to facilitate travel with processes that are robust, effective, and fair.”



Further items to note in relation to recent changes in Irish Immigration Laws:

– Transitional arrangements will be put in place for nationals of Botswana and South Africa who have existing arrangements (made before 10 July 2024) to travel to the State until 9th August 2024.

– Nationals of Botswana and South Africa who have existing travel arrangements are advised to check for further information.

– The requirement for a visa will not be applied to diplomatic passport holders of South Africa. Reciprocal arrangements apply for Irish diplomats travelling to this county.

Additional information on actions taken by the Department of Justice in the area of immigration:

1. Suspended visa free travel for refugees who have been issued with travel documents by other EU Member States.

2. Provided specific funding to An Garda Síochána for a programme to assign Garda Airline Liaison Officers to European Transport Hubs to prevent irregular migration.

3. Assigned additional resources in Dublin Airport to carry out ‘doorstop’ operations on flights that pose risks of irregular migration. Over 3700 ‘doorstop’ operations were carried out in the first half of 2024.

4. An Garda Síochána have arrested over 115 people in the first half of 2024 for arriving without appropriate documentation and a significant number have been convicted.

5. The number of undocumented arrivals at Dublin Airport in 2024 has reduced by 14% compared to the same period (January to end May) in 2023 (during which time the number of arrivals increased by 6%) and down 42% on the same period in 2022.

6. The Border Management Unit continues to provide training and 24-hour advice to Airlines on how to identify and deal with immigration abuse.

7. A review of Carrier Liability legislation has been completed and new increased levels of fines will shortly be introduced.

8. There has been a significant investment in speeding up processing of International Protection applications; this includes doubling the staff assigned to the International Protection Office and the opening of a new processing location at Citywest in April of this year.

9. This investment has led to the number of decisions issuing increasing threefold and will increase further this year.

10. Strategic policy and operational approaches to speed up application from safe countries and the country with the highest number of applications are also being taken and are proving effective.

11. Accelerated processes have now been introduced for;

a. Fifteen safe countries of origin,

b. applicants who have received protection elsewhere in Europe,

c. citizens of the country which provides the greatest number of applicants in the previous quarter (at the moment, Nigeria).

12. Applications from the designated safe countries have dropped by over 50% since these procedures were introduced in November 2022.

13. Deportations recommenced post Covid and are increasing in number.

14. Deportation orders signed in 2024 are 76% up on the same period last year.

15. Enforced deportations are up 132% and voluntary returns are up 145% on the same period last year; both more than doubled.

16. Charter flights will be required to support the removal process, commencing later this year; a procurement process for this is well advanced.

17. The process to release up to 100 more Gardaí to support immigration enforcement activities is advancing and will be substantially completed within the next 12 months. All routine immigration work at Dublin Airport has been transferred to the Border Management Unit and the transfer of immigration registration duties outside of Dublin have largely been civilianised.

18. Engagement between Department of Justice and the Home Office and An Garda Síochána and PSNI around protecting the Common Travel Area (CTA) from abuses is ongoing.

19. Border Management Unit (BMU), Garda National immigration Bureau (GNIB) and colleagues in the UK Border Force and Immigration Enforcement, engage via joint operations and intelligence-sharing to respond to current trends of CTA travel and suspected areas of abuse.

20. Immigration investigations and enforcement action are being undertaken on a daily basis by the GNIB who work closely with their counterparts in UK Border Force and Immigration Enforcement in Joint operations to detect and tackle abuses of the CTA. Operation Sonnet is a Garda operation targeting abuse of the CTA and has been ongoing for some time. It targets people attempting to abuse the CTA by illegally crossing the Irish border from Northern Ireland.

21. Legislation to respond to a High Court judgment will be enacted in the coming months to and allow for the designation of safe third countries in relation to inadmissible applications.

22. Ireland is responding to changing patterns of migration in recent years, which only reinforces the need for the EU Asylum and Migration Pact to allow us work with our European partners and to benefit from funding to help us deal with this issue. Without it, Ireland would be isolated and numbers of people coming here would certainly increase.