Monday, May 27, 2024

Ireland might put a stop to visa-free travel for South Africans

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The government of Ireland wants to enhance immigration control amid challenges with accommodating asylum seekers, and is looking at scrapping visa-free travel for South Africans.

Discussions among ministers are underway regarding the potential changes to their visa policies, writes SchengenVisaInfo.

According to the Irish Times, concerns have been raised over nationals from Zimbabwe and the Democratic Republic of Congo using South African passports to enter Ireland.

VISA-FREE MOVEMENT ON SA PASSPORTS

Data released by the Irish Department of Justice revealed that 198 people arriving in Ireland on South African passports are currently undergoing processing.

This number constitutes over three percent of the total applicants so far in 2024, it said.

According to Irish politician Simon Harris, the government intends to implement measures that will manage the flow of asylum applicants crossing into Ireland via Northern Ireland.

Justice Minister Helen McEntee further noted that over 80% of international protection applicants entered the country through Northern Ireland.

As such, she emphasised the importance of increased cooperation between Ireland’s Garda and Northern Ireland’s Police Service.

Despite existing measures at airports, additional restrictions to effectively address the situation were needed, she added.

HOUSING CHALLENGES

More than 5 000 individuals have already applied for asylum in Ireland this year. The Irish government is anticipating a further surge in arrivals in the coming months.

Irish government is under pressure to accommodate around 1 600 male asylum seekers, and is reaching out to church dioceses for alternate, temporary shelter options.

This mirrors past collaborations with the church, such as providing refuge to individuals fleeing the war in Ukraine.

Authorities are exploring alternative solutions while awaiting an official decision from the government on tightening rules to manage asylum applications.

Currently, an Irish visa is not required by a citizen of South Africa to enter into Ireland, but it is needed to work, study and naturalise in the country.

SOUTH AFRICANS REPATRIATING

Meanwhile, many South African expats are returning home to snap up properties due to the favourable exchange rate.

Now equipped with better buying power to invest in property, these South Africans perceive their home country as offering better value for long-term financial stability.

A portion of these buyers are still employed by international companies. The flexibility of remote work has enabled them to settle back in South Africa, or become ‘swallows.’

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