Are you returning to Ireland during the Covid-19 pandemic or considering returning soon? We have created a comprehensive list of questions and answers to help you with returning during the pandemic, with useful information on everything from visas for your partner, social welfare, self-isolation and other supports.
- I am abroad and I have concerns about the impact of Covid-19 on my situation where I live, who can I contact? Contact the Department of Foreign Affairs’ helpline +353 1 6131733. For further support you can contact your nearest Embassy or Consulate, and there are also Irish emigrant support organisations all over the world that may be able to assist you.
- I am returning to Ireland soon, what must I do when I arrive? It is now a legal requirement to complete a public health passenger locator form on arrival, which is to help with contact tracing. Fines of €2,500 or six months in prison are enforced for failure to complete the form. You will be asked to restrict your movements for 14 days. Onward travel by car or public transport to your home or where you will be staying in Ireland is permitted. It is now mandatory to wear a face covering on public transport. Travel throughout Ireland is now permitted. If you start to feel ill or develop Covid-19 symptoms, you should self-isolate and call a doctor who will refer you for a Covid-19 test.
- How do I self-isolate if I develop symptoms at home with my family/friends? Behave as if you have the virus if you have symptoms. The HSE has listed health guidelines to follow for self-isolation, including:
- Stay at home, in a room with a window you can open.
- Keep away from others in your home as much as you can. Use a separate toilet if possible.
- Check your symptoms – call a doctor if they get worse. Phone your doctor if you need to – do not visit them.
- Cover your coughs and sneezes using a tissue – clean your hands properly afterwards.
- Wash your hands properly and often.
- Use your own towel – do not share a towel with others.
- Clean your room every day with a household cleaner or disinfectant.
- People you live with will need to restrict their movements,
- How do the people I live with restrict their movements? Restricting movements means not having contact with any other people outside the home, not going to work or the shops, not using public transport, not having visitors at your home, keeping away from older people and anyone with long-term medical conditions and pregnant women. They can still go outside to exercise briefly alone within 5 kilometres of your home, keeping 2 metres distance from other people.
- If one of my family members/friends who I will be staying with has a condition that makes them at high risk of Covid-19 should I find somewhere alternative to stay for the first 14 days or will I be able to access self-isolation units on arrival? There are no quarantine or self-isolation units available for people on arrival to Ireland. Self-isolation units are available for people who are referred by a GP or hospital. The current instruction is to self-isolate away from people who are classified as at high-risk, and if you have no alternative address, you can self-isolate in the home in your own room (see Q3). If you are very concerned about doing this, contact a GP at home for further advice.
- I am returning home soon and will be homeless on arrival as I have been out of Ireland for some time and do not have support networks in Ireland. How can I access emergency accommodation? Contact an Irish organisation near to where you are living who can refer you to supports, or contact Crosscare Migrant Project (00353 1 8732844 / firstname.lastname@example.org) in advance of arrival, we will advocate on your behalf with the homeless services to support your emergency needs.
- I am returning from abroad with my non-EEA spouse, what immigration steps do we need to follow? This will depend if your non-EEA spouse is from a visa-required country or not. Since 20 March, the Department of Justice has temporarily stopped accepting new visa applications for Ireland due to COVID-19. However, certain priority/emergency cases will continue to be processed, including visas for immediate family members of Irish citizens (who are returning to their ordinary place of residence in Ireland). If you are in this category, then your non-EEA spouse must apply for a ‘D Join Family visa’ online before returning to Ireland. If your non-EEA spouse is from a non-visa required country (for example USA, Australia), then they may enter Ireland with you without applying for a visa in advance. At the airport, your spouse should state that it is his/her intention to apply for residence based on being the spouse of an Irish national, providing your marriage certificate, and your spouse will be issued with permission to enter the State on that basis. Currently all Registration Offices in the country are closed due to COVID-19, however, requests by letter are now being accepted. After arrival in Ireland, you should send an email to email@example.com with a scanned copy of your marriage certificate and both of your passports, and request a letter confirming your spouse’s permission to remain in Ireland on a Stamp 4 basis as the spouse of an Irish citizen. Updates available here.
- I am returning from abroad with my non-EEA de facto partner (not married), what immigration steps do we need to follow? Since November 2019, non-EEA de facto partners of Irish citizens are required to apply for immigration preclearance before travelling to Ireland. This applies whether you are coming from a visa-required country (e.g. Thailand, Algeria), or a non-visa required country (e.g. USA, Australia). If the immigration preclearance is granted, and your non-EEA de facto partner is from a visa-required country, he/she will also need to apply for a ‘D Join Family visa’ before travelling to Ireland. If your non-EEA de facto partner is from a non-visa required country, then he/she can enter the State with you with the original preclearance approval letter. Currently all Registration Offices in the country are closed due to COVID-19, however, requests by letter are now being accepted. After arrival in Ireland, you should send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with a scanned copy of your preclearance approval letter and both of your passports, and request a letter confirming your de facto partner’s permission to remain in Ireland on a Stamp 4 basis as the partner of an Irish citizen. Updates available here.
- I am returning with my child who does not have an Irish passport yet, what immigration steps do I need to follow? If your child’s passport is from a non-visa required country (e.g. Australia, USA) he/she can enter Ireland with you using this passport, it is not necessary to apply for an Irish passport. If your child’s passport is from a visa-required country (e.g. Algeria, Pakistan) there are 2 options – apply for an Irish passport for your child through your local Embassy or Consulate in your country of residence before returning to Ireland, or apply for a Long Stay D Join Family visa for your child to return to Ireland using their non-EEA passport. You should contact your local Irish Embassy or Consulate to see what the relevant process is in your country of residence.
- I have lost my income and will need to apply for income supports on return, what social welfare payments can I apply for? The Pandemic Unemployment Payment introduced during the pandemic is set up to support people who have become unemployed in Ireland and is not available to people returning to Ireland. You can apply for Jobseeker’s Benefit or Jobseeker’s Allowance depending on you satisfying the criteria. For Jobseeker’s Benefit, you will need to have earned a minimum of 104 weeks PRSI contributions, 13 weeks of which must have been since 2016. For Jobseeker’s Allowance, you do not need to have the PRSI contributions, but you will need to satisfy the Habitual Residence Condition (HRC) proving that you are resuming permanent residence in Ireland and that your ‘centre of interest’ is once again in Ireland.
- How do I apply for payments? As public offices are closed, you can make an application for Jobseekers payment online (gov.ie) for which you will need to set up a ‘MyGovID’ account that can now be set up with just an email address. Alternatively, you can request forms by post from your nearest Intreo Office when you are home. You can also apply for a Supplementary Welfare Allowance (SWA), an interim payment whilst waiting for a decision on a primary payment like Jobseeker’s Allowance. An application for SWA must be made by post. We advise keeping copies of all originals for all applications.
- Do I need a Personal Public Service Number (PPSN) to apply for a social welfare payment? To access your old number contact the Client Identity Section on 00353 71 967 2616. If you never had a PPSN and you need to apply for one for yourself, your partner or your child, temporary arrangements for applications can be made via post or email. You can submit scanned images or photographs of each of the completed REG1 form, ID, and proof of address, (utility bill, letter from landlord, etc.). The Department will issue the PPSN by post to your address in Ireland.
- Will I be taxed on earnings I made abroad? No, you are only taxed for earnings made in Ireland or from an Irish based company. (Earlier ‘Ask the expert’ article)
- Can I apply for assistance to pay rent if I am unemployed? Rent Supplement is only available for people who have been renting accommodation in Ireland already. You can make an application for social housing by downloading an application from the local authority website for your area and sending via post with supporting documents. If you are approved, you can receive a Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) to assist with paying rent once you have a lease and whilst you are in receipt of social welfare.
- I am returning with children, can I claim Child Benefit? Yes, Child Benefit in Ireland is a universal entitlement and is based on residence in Ireland, therefore you will need to satisfy the Habitual Residence Condition, which determines that you have resumed permanent residence in Ireland and your centre of interest is once again in Ireland. (See Q13. For applying for a PPSN for your children)
- Can I apply for GP Card or a Medical card? The medical card is means tested based on having an income below a basic rate (e.g. €266.50 per week for a couple with children) and other essential outgoings, or if you are in receipt of social welfare, or qualify under other schemes and medical conditions. To apply, you need to register with a local GP and make an online or postal application. If you do not qualify for full medical card, you will be assessed for a GP visit card only. See https://www2.hse.ie/medical-cards/ for further information on how to qualify, lists of GPs and how to apply online.
If you have any further queries or need assistance, please get in touch with us on 01 8732844 / email@example.com
*As featured as in the The Irish Times Abroad 12th May 2020. Updated 17/07/2020.