Brazilian man seeks emergency family reunification

Family of man who moved to Ireland for work unable to join due to freeze on visa application

A Brazilian man who moved to Ireland for work but is separated from his wife and two sons because of a freeze on visa applications has called on the Government to treat his circumstances as an emergency case.

Bruno Scabora says he understands the measures Ireland is taking to control the spread of Covid-19, but he is desperate to be reunited with his family.

Mr Scabora, an Italian passport holder, started looking for work outside Brazil last year and was offered a position with a multinational company in Cork in January.

“We already planned to move before the pandemic but with Covid we decided to speed things up. I was thinking about my kids’ future; I wanted them to have a better life,” he said.

Mr Scabora accepted the job, closed his business, sold assets and rented out their home. He planned to travel to Ireland ahead of his family to find a house before bringing them over a few weeks later.

One week before his flight, on January 26th, the Department of Justice announced it was imposing new visa requirements on a number of South American countries including Brazil. Previously people did not need a visa to travel to Ireland from Brazil.

Three days later the Government announced it would “temporarily cease accepting new visa/pre-clearance applications” with certain exceptions for “priority/emergency cases”.

Having already closed his business, Mr Scabora had to leave for his new job on February 2nd.

“Suddenly our lives became a horror movie. My wife is in a terrible situation, she’s alone with the kids and schools in Brazil are closed because of Covid. My parents and her parents are old, we cannot risk them helping out. She had resigned from her job because she thought we were moving,” he said.

“The worst is seeing my children’s sadness. Every time I call my son, he asks, ‘Are you coming to pick me up today?’ He knows what’s going on but doesn’t understand the timeline.”

Mandatory quarantine

Mr Scabora returned to Brazil for three weeks in March to see his family, who are staying with a relative. He paid for the two weeks’ mandatory hotel quarantine upon his return to Ireland, a measure introduced while he was abroad.

He has contacted the Irish Embassy in Brazil and foreign affairs and justice officials requesting that his situation be treated as an emergency family reunification case.

On Wednesday Mr Scabora received an email from the Minister for Justice’s private secretary rejecting his appeal. It stated that “reasons for emergency travel do not include missing a loved one; wanting to attend a birth; or wanting to attend a wedding or milestone birthday”.

A department official said he could not comment on individual cases but that “everybody should avoid non-essential travel completely”.

Priority or emergency cases included travel for essential workers, patients travelling for imperative medical reasons, travel for imperative family or business reasons, and travel by diplomats, international organisation staff, seafarers and journalists, he said.

“The department’s immigration service intends to resume accepting applications as soon as safety concerns abate,” he said, adding that the situation would be reviewed in the coming weeks.

Mr Scabora says his four-year-old son back in Brazil is becoming restless, anxious and aggressive. A psychologist had told the family his behaviour was in response to the family separation, he said.

“We understand and agree with the need for travel control, we just want our case to be treated with the care it deserves. My family has been left alone without any help in a high-risk environment.”