Government not considering new visa restrictions for Russians – The Irish Times


The Justice Department is not considering new visa restrictions for Russian visitors to Ireland, but says it will monitor European Union plans to suspend a longstanding visa deal with Moscow this week.

EU foreign ministers plan to back the suspension of the visa facilitation agreement between the EU and Russia in response to the Kremlin attack on Ukraine when they meet in Prague on Tuesday.

The move comes after some eastern states threatened to unilaterally close their borders to Russian tourists using visas allowing travel to the EU’s borderless travel zone.

Some member states have reportedly demanded coordinated action to end the granting of travel documents under a 2007 deal that allows Russians with visas to travel anywhere in the Schengen free movement area .

“It is inappropriate for Russian tourists to walk around our cities, our marinas,” said a senior EU official involved in the talks. “We must send a signal to the Russian people that this war is not acceptable; it’s not acceptable.

The state is not a party to the 2007 Visa Facilitation Agreement or the Schengen Agreement which underpins the free movement of people and removes border controls in the EU.

“No additional visa requirements or restrictions are currently contemplated for Russian citizens domestically beyond the restrictions already imposed on sanctioned individuals,” a Justice Ministry spokesperson said. “The department continues to monitor developments at EU level.”

Ireland has passed a series of sweeping EU sanctions imposed on Russian companies and nationals since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, including EU travel bans on hundreds of political figures and commercial and other Russian nationals.

Russian nationals need a visa to travel to Ireland and must hold a valid Irish entry visa before attempting to enter the state. Figures provided by the department show an increase in visa applications from Russian nationals since the invasion of Ukraine.

The department received 799 visa applications between February 24 and August 23, compared to 306 for the same period in 2021 and 237 in 2020.

This year’s figure is also considerably higher than the requests received during the corresponding period in 2019 before travel across the EU was disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic. Some 423 applications were received during the six-month period in 2019.

EU rules allow Russian tourists to apply for visas to the country they plan to visit, but they can enter the Schengen area at any time and travel there for up to 90 days within a 180-day period.

Parts of the 2007 EU-Russia visa agreement with Moscow regarding the free movement of government and business officials were suspended shortly after the Ukraine attack. The Czech Republic and Poland stopped issuing visas to Russian tourists soon after the invasion. Finland has said it will drastically reduce the number of Russian tourist visas it issues from September 1 to prevent Russians from using Finland’s land border as an entry point to travel to European holiday destinations. .

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