USA and the UK
- What is the British-Irish Visa Scheme?
- What are the requirements for the British-Irish Visa Scheme?
- What can I do under the British-Irish Visa Scheme?
- How to apply for the British-Irish Visa Scheme?
- What documents are required for the British-Irish Visa Scheme?
- Which visas qualify for the scheme?
- What happens if I arrive in the wrong country?
- How can IAS help?
- Frequently Asked Questions
What is the British-Irish Visa Scheme?
The British-Irish Visa Scheme (BIVS) is an agreement between the UK and Ireland that aims to promote international tourism between the two countries. Under the scheme, Indian and Chinese nationals can travel to the UK and Ireland (including Northern Ireland) on just one visa. Keep in mind that the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands are not covered by the scheme.
To be able to come to the UK or Ireland under the scheme, you have to be traveling for a short stay only, primarily for the purpose of tourism. If you want to come to either of the countries to stay there long-term or work, you need to obtain another visa. Moreover, if you obtain a UK Visitor Visa, you have to arrive in the UK first before going to Ireland. If you have an Irish Visitor Visa, Ireland has to be your first destination.
To be able to apply for the British-Irish Scheme and travel alone, you have to be 18 years of age or older. Individuals younger than 18 years old can only apply for the scheme if they are traveling with an adult.
What are the requirements for the British-Irish Visa Scheme?
To qualify for the British-Irish Visa Scheme, you have to meet the UK and Ireland visa requirements for a Visitor Visa. You must first apply for a visa in the country you want to travel in first. For example, if you are visiting Ireland first and then traveling to the UK, you will need to obtain a valid Irish visa. Then under the British-Irish Visa Scheme (BIVS), you will be allowed to travel to the UK without the need of obtaining a British Visitor Visa (and vice-versa).
If you want to travel to Ireland first, you need to satisfy the following criteria for the Irish Tourist Visa which are as follows:
- Be at least 18 years old
- Have a passport valid for at least 6 months past the date when you plan to leave Ireland
- Have enough funds to support yourself during your stay
- Have ties in your home country that will make you return there after your visa expires
- Be able to disclose your immigration history
- Be able to provide details of your accommodation in Ireland.
If you hire one of our lawyers, they can tell you in detail what requirements you have to meet.
Those who obtain a short-stay UK Visa can stay in the UK for a maximum of 180 days and in Ireland for 90 days. Those who have an Irish Visa can remain in Ireland for up to 90 days and in the UK for the remaining period of validity of the permit that they received upon entering the country.
What can I do under the British-Irish Visa Scheme?
Under the British-Irish Visa Scheme (BIVS), Chinese and Indian citizens can travel back and forth in the Common Travel Area (CTA) between the UK and Ireland without the need of obtaining separate UK and Ireland visas.
However, according to Ireland UK immigration rules, individuals who are granted a BIVS visa will need to abide by the rules of their visa. For example, if traveling to Ireland under a Short-Stay Family/Friend Visa, foreign citizens will not be permitted to engage in business or other paid work.
Furthermore, BIVS visa holders will also need to abide by the duration time requirements set forth in their issued visas. For example:
- If traveling on a British visa, foreign nationals are only permitted to stay in the UK for a maximum period of 180 days
- If traveling on an Ireland Visa, foreign nationals can only stay in Ireland for a maximum period of 90 days
- Individuals who have a UK visa then travel to Ireland can only stay for a maximum period of 90 days (this could count as using up the last remaining validity period of your UK visa)
- Individuals with an Irish visa who travel to the UK can only stay in the UK for the time left remaining on their Ireland visa
How to apply for the British-Irish Visa Scheme?
Before you submit your application for the scheme, you have to decide whether you want your initial visa to be to the UK or Ireland. There are joint application centers in the UK and Ireland across China and India. There you can submit your application, which will then be processed by appropriate authorities in either the UK or Ireland depending on which country you plan to visit first.
To successfully apply for the scheme, you have to submit a number of documents that prove that you meet the eligibility requirements. For example, you have to provide bank statements showing that you have enough money to cover the expenses during your stay. Or, you have to provide proof of having ties in your home country that will make you return there after your permit expires. You can, for example, use a job contract or a lease for an apartment to demonstrate that.
The exact criteria you have to meet vary depending on what type of visitor you are so it is recommended to consult an immigration lawyer before submitting your portfolio of evidence.
After all of the necessary documents have been submitted, the visa application will be processed. Processing time is normally a few weeks. If approved for an eligible visa, Chinese and Indian citizens can then apply for the British-Irish Visa Scheme (BIVS). Visa applicants can also save time by applying for a BIVS visa when applying for their Ireland or UK visas.
What documents are required for the British-Irish Visa Scheme?
The required documents that need to be submitted for your Irish or UK visa will depend on the type of visa to which you are applying For example, a short stay UK visa will require different documents than an Irish Family/Friend Visa.
However, applicants can generally be expected to submit the following supporting documents:
- A valid visa or travel documents
- Visa application form
- Any evidence which proves the applicant has ties to their home country (rental lease, mortgage statement, pay slips, etc)
- Any evidence which proves the applicant has sufficient funds to finance their stay and travel
- Receipts of visa application payments
It should be noted that some embassies, consulates, and application centers will have different criteria regarding what documents need to be submitted. Therefore, it’s important to check ahead of time regarding the specifics of what is needed before you submit your visa application. Documents are scrutinized carefully so any errors or missing documents will lead to a visa refusal.
Which visas qualify for the scheme?
In order to travel freely between Ireland and the UK on the BIVS visa scheme, Chinese and Indian citizens will need to obtain one of the following eligible Irish visas:
- Irish Visitor Visa
- Irish Conference or Event Visa
- Irish Short Stay Business Visa
- Irish Family/Friend Visa
If your travels first begin in the UK, you may also apply for the scheme if you have been approved for one of the following UK visas:
- Standard Visitor Visa UK
- Business Visitor Visa UK
- Child Visitor Visa UK
- Prospective Entrepreneur Visitor Visa UK
- Private Medical Treatment Visitor Visa UK
- Student Visitor Visa UK
- Permitted Paid Engagement Visa UK
All standard visitor visas to the UK where the holder can spend up to 6 months in the country qualify for the Scheme.
If you want to apply for another permit, such as a British Visa like the Student Visa or Skilled Worker Visa to either UK or Ireland, you will not be able to take part in the British-Irish Visa Scheme and will therefore need to apply for a separate visa if you would like to travel in the Common Travel Area.
The requirements you have to meet to successfully apply for the scheme might vary depending on which visa you plan to obtain. Talk to our immigration lawyers and they will guide you through each step of the application process.
What happens if I arrive in the wrong country?
When applying for the British-Irish Visa Scheme, you have to indicate which country will be your initial destination. Based on that you will obtain either an Irish or a UK Visa. If you get an Irish Visa but you arrive in the UK first, you might face trouble when trying to enter the country. If your arrival in the wrong country is due to a genuine error, immigration officials working at the border will analyze your situation and decide whether to allow you to enter the country.
If you need to transit through one of the countries to get to the other one, it does not count as the first destination. You do not need a UK Transit Visa to travel through the UK to reach Ireland and the other way round.
If you only want to travel to one country, you should apply for a regular visa, not the scheme. Keep in mind, however, that if you apply for a UK Visa and your permit is not endorsed by the BIVS scheme, you will not have the right to travel to Ireland. To visit Ireland, you might have to return to your home country and apply for a separate Irish Visa.
How can IAS help?
Applying for the British-Irish Visa Scheme can be complicated as the requirements vary depending on which Irish or UK Visa you are trying to obtain. If you hire one of our lawyers, they can explain to you in detail what criteria you need to meet and how to submit your application.
At IAS, we have a team of experienced immigration lawyers who have helped many clients successfully apply for various visas to the UK and Ireland. They can provide you with all the key information about the scheme and can ensure that your application has been completed to the highest standard. They can also help you prepare all the supporting documents that might be required.
Call us today on +1 844 290 6312 to find out more about how our lawyers can help.
Last modified on October 14th, 2022 at 4:03 am
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It can happen that your application for the British-Irish Visa Scheme is rejected. Applications are reviewed on a case-by-case basis so sometimes a jurisdiction might decide to refuse you a visa.
Unfortunately, there is no appeal procedure for applications for the British-Irish Visa Scheme. This is why you should hire an immigration lawyer to make sure your case is as strong as possible from the beginning.
Unfortunately, only Chinese and Indian nationals are eligible to apply for the British-Irish Visa Scheme. If you are a citizen of any other non-EEA country, you have to obtain separate visas to be able to visit Ireland and the UK.
If you are a citizen of an EU/EEA country, you can come to visit both the UK and Ireland without a visa and you can move freely between them.
The Common Travel Area is an agreement between the UK and Ireland that allows British and Irish citizens to travel freely between the two countries. It also covers the Crown Dependencies (Bailiwick of Jersey, Bailiwick of Guernsey, and the Isle of Man).
If your application for the British-Irish Visa Scheme is successful, you will gain the right to use just one visa to travel freely through the Common Travel Area with the exception of the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands.
To be able to obtain the Irish Visitor Visa, you have to meet the following requirements:
- You have a passport valid for at least six months after the date when you plan to leave Ireland
- You have enough finances to support yourself financially during your stay
- You can provide details of any previous applications for Irish visas
- You can provide details of any family members living in Ireland or another EU member state
- You have ties in your home country that will make you return there after your stay
Although both visas allow travel between Ireland and the UK on just a single visa. However, each visa program is open to different nationalities. the British-Irish Visa Scheme is only open to Chinese and Indian nationals whereas the Irish Short-Stay Visa Waiver Programme is only available to citizens of certain Eastern European, Middle Eastern, and Asian countries.
UK visas eligible for the BIVS scheme are valid for 180 days if they only stay in the UK. If UK visa holders travel to Ireland on the scheme, they will only be permitted to stay in Ireland for 90 days. This could mean that after your stay in Ireland is up, you will have to leave as your BIVS visa will no longer be valid.
BIVS Irish visas, however, are only valid for 90 days. This means that if you travel to Ireland and then go to the UK, you will only be permitted to stay in the UK for the time remaining on your 90-day visa.