Single visa will allow travel for Chinese, Indian visitors to Ireland and Britain

New visa scheme to start in autumn expected to increase tourism

 Frances Fitzgerald: she  said the scheme would make it easier and more attractive for visitors to come to Ireland and the UK. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Frances Fitzgerald: she said the scheme would make it easier and more attractive for visitors to come to Ireland and the UK. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Tue, Jun 17, 2014, 01:00

Chinese and Indian visitors will be the first to benefit from a new scheme that will allow travel between Ireland and Britain on a single visa.

Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald announced the launch of the British-Irish visa scheme yesterday, which will begin in autumn for the two Asian nations.

Currently international tourists and business visitors from outside the EU need separate Irish and UK visas. Under the new scheme will be allowed to travel freely in the “common travel area”– Britain and Ireland – with either an Irish or a British visa.

Ms Fitzgerald said the scheme would make it easier and more attractive for visitors to come to Ireland and the UK. The scheme is expected to boost tourism and business visitors, and she pointed out that tourism had increased from these countries by 68 per cent between 2010 and 2013.

Groundbreaking

“China and India will be the first to benefit from this groundbreaking scheme and I look forward to the successful implementation of the new arrangements in respect of both of those countries,” she said.

The British-Irish visa scheme was initiated by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service of the Department of Justice and the UK Home Office.

Ms Fitzgerald said it marked “a historic development in the relationship between Ireland and the UK and in the operation of the common travel area which has existed between the two countries since 1922”.

Britain’s home secretary Theresa May who also announced the scheme at an event in London said: “Our two governments are proud of what the UK and Ireland have to offer to Chinese and Indian visitors, and we look forward to welcoming many more to our countries through this new scheme”.

More visitors

She said the initiative would attract more visitors from both China and India, “while also ensuring the robust management of our borders. We look forward to ongoing work with Ireland towards our shared objectives of promoting growth and preventing the abuse of our immigration systems”.

The scheme will operate through reciprocal visa arrangements whereby Ireland and the UK will recognise short-stay visas issued by each other for travel to their jurisdiction, allowing free travel between the countries for the duration of the visa.