What is the change? Ireland has announced that it will extend its Short-Stay Visa Waiver Program, which allows certain non-EU nationals who hold a valid U.K. visa to travel to Ireland without an entry visa.

What does the change mean? The program will be extended for an additional five years to Oct. 31, 2021. Nationals of the 18 countries currently eligible under the program continue to be eligible for the short-stay visa waiver.

  • Implementation time frame: Ongoing.
  • Visas/permits affected: Short-stay visa waiver.
  • Who is affected: Nationals of the 18 countries that are covered by the Short-Stay Visa Waiver Program.
  • Business impact: Business travelers with short-stay (visit) visas to the U.K. may travel to Ireland for the remaining period on their U.K. visa without having to apply for an Irish visa.
  • Next steps: Those who already rely on the visa waiver program do not need to take any steps and may continue to rely on the visa waiver.

Background: Ireland introduced the Short-Stay Visa Waiver Program in July 2011 to increase tourism and business travel from emerging markets. The program was due to expire Oct. 31, 2016.

Under the program, Ireland recognizes a U.K. short-stay visa for nationals of the following countries who seek to visit Ireland:

Bahrain Belarus Bosnia and Herzegovina China India
Kazakhstan Kuwait Oman Montenegro Qatar
Russian Federation Saudi Arabia Serbia Thailand Turkey
Ukraine United Arab Emirates Uzbekistan

The U.K. short-stay visa is valid in Ireland for the remaining period on the visa, or 90 days, whichever is less. Travelers must have lawfully entered the U.K. under their current U.K. visa before traveling to Ireland. Each valid stay in the U.K. (up to a maximum of 180 days each time) requires prior legal entry into the U.K. before travel to Ireland, regardless of the duration of the U.K. visa.

The Irish Embassy in London has advised that the travelers (excluding nationals of Oman, Qatar and the UAE who are traveling on an electronic visa waiver) may enter Ireland without having been to the U.K. on the same trip if they entered the U.K. within the previous 180 days. In other words, they can enter Ireland from a third country and do not need to travel to the U.K. on the same trip, as long as they legally entered the U.K. within the last 180 days.

BAL Analysis: Extension of the program for an additional five years will allow qualifying nationals to continue to benefit from reduced visa processing when traveling to the U.K. and Ireland during the same trip.

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group in the United Kingdom. For additional information, please contact

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