Understand the British-Irish Visa Scheme with our detailed guide. Learn how it simplifies travel between the UK and Ireland for visa holders.

 British-Irish Visa Scheme 

The BIVS or British-Irish Visa Scheme allows the citizens and residents of a country of China or India to travel across the UK and Ireland with a single visa and thus, opens a gateway for the exploration of both countries at the same time. This post will tell you about the BIVS program and provide you with a platform to remember their visit to these countries.

Unveiling the British-Irish Visa Scheme

The British Irish Visa Scheme, which became operational in June 2014, is one of the best examples of a how such close partnership between the United Kingdom and Ireland can be beneficial. It is more than a regular visa program rather it will make people of both countries grant each other a chance to visit their respective countries.

The cornerstone of the legislation is the Irish Short-stay Visa Waiver scheme that granted citizens of 18 selected countries easy access to Ireland using their UK visas. BIVS further expands this belief by allowing short-term stay visas, which lets Irish nationals visit the UK and UK citizens travel to Ireland. This plan is subject to some countries and permits the candidates to have easy navigation of both the UK and Ireland under the auspices of the Common Travel Area (CTA).

The Scope of the British-Irish Visa Scheme

The BIVS (British-Irish Visa Scheme) is a significant pillar of the agreement as it provides free travel to Northern Ireland, allowing guests to relish its diverse culture and picturesque landscapes. Nevertheless, it is worth noting that this scheme will not assist in travel to the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man. The BIVS is not available to any nationals other than Chinese and Indians at present.

Eligible Irish and UK Visas for the British-Irish Scheme

The scheme is open to Chinese and Indian nationals living in their home countries. If eligible, you can travel between Ireland and the UK using the following Irish visas:

Eligible Irish Visas for the BIVS:

  • Irish Family/Friend Visa
  • Irish Tourist Visa
  • Irish Conference/Event Visa
  • Irish Business Visa

Eligible UK Visas for the BIVS:

  • A UK Standard Visitor Visa
  • A UK Business Visitor Visa
  • A UK Child Visitor Visa
  • A UK Prospective Entrepreneur Visitor Visa
  • A UK Private Medical Treatment Visitor Visa
  • A UK Student Visitor Visa
  • A UK-paid engagement visa

You should know that some categories of visas do not include the ones related to travel to Ireland or the UK, so you will need to make an additional effort to obtain visas for those destinations. The only exception for the case of the BIVS is that it does not apply to Irish work or study visas. Also, the condition that short-stay visit visas with a length of more than six months are out of consideration for this scheme as they are not considered temporary visas.

Navigating the UK Immigration Rules

The British-Irish Visa Scheme has specific rules and requirements that participants must adhere to:

Age Requirement: 

All participants in the BIVS must be at least 18 years old.

Visa Categories:

 Participants must possess one of the short-stay/visit visas mentioned earlier.

Travel Sequence:

 If you hold an Irish short-stay visa, you must first travel to Ireland before accessing the Common Travel Area (CTA) in the UK. The rule dictates that you must visit the country whose visa you carry. Subsequently, when you plan to return to Ireland or the UK, there is no need for a re-entry visa.

Limitations on Activities:

 Participants must engage only in activities permitted by their respective visa types. For example, if you possess an Irish short-stay family/friend visa, business or paid work activities are prohibited.

Duration Restrictions: 

The duration of your stay in Ireland or the UK depends on the issuing country and the destination. Here are the specifics:

  • With an eligible UK visa, your stay in the UK is limited to a maximum of 180 days.
  • With an eligible Irish visa, your stay in Ireland is restricted to a maximum of 90 days.
  • With an eligible UK visa, your stay in Ireland is capped at 90 days, which may count against your visa’s remaining validity period.

With an eligible Irish visa, your stay in the UK aligns with the remaining validity period of your visa. For example, if you hold an Irish visa valid for 90 days and spend 30 days in Ireland before heading to the UK, you can reside in the UK for 60 days.

Essential Documents for the British-Irish Visa Scheme

The documentation required for the British-Irish Visa Scheme varies depending on the type of visa and the country of application. While the specific documents may differ for a short-stay business visa compared to a family/friend visa, one common thread remains: meticulous documentation is paramount for a successful application.

Typically, applicants must include the following essential documents:

  • Visa Application Summary Sheet: This is a crucial document that provides a summary of your visa application.
  • International Passport: Your passport should remain valid throughout your planned stay in either Ireland or the UK.
  • Proof of Fee Payment: Ensuring you’ve paid the necessary fees is a critical step in the visa application process.
  • Evidence of Intent to Return: You must furnish proof that you intend to return home when your visa expires, demonstrating your commitment to complying with visa regulations.

Navigating the Application Process For British-Irish Visa Scheme

The process of participating in the British-Irish Visa Scheme unfolds in a few key steps:

Acquire an Eligible Visa

Your journey begins by obtaining an eligible visa. Apply for your visa from your home country’s respective embassy or consulate for the country you intend to visit first. Notably, if you are an Indian or Chinese national residing outside India or China, you are ineligible to apply for this visa.

Visa Decision and Application

Once your documents are in order, you can expect a decision on your short-stay visa application within a few weeks. Following the acquisition of your visa, you can proceed to apply for the British-Irish Visa Scheme. Joint application centers are available in India and China, providing convenient locations for submission. You can choose to submit your application after receiving your visa or apply while your visa application is in progress.

Re-Entering the Country

As previously mentioned, re-entry into Ireland or the UK is simplified under the Common Travel Area (CTA) agreement. If you depart from the CTA area, you can no longer re-enter Ireland or the UK with a single-entry Irish visa. In such cases, you will be required to apply for a new visa. However, if you possess a multi-entry Irish visa, you can re-enter Ireland even after leaving the CTA, provided your visa remains valid.

For UK visa holders departing from the CTA, re-entry into the UK and subsequent entry into Ireland is permissible if the visa is still valid.

The British-Irish Visa Scheme represents a bridge connecting two remarkable nations, inviting travelers to explore their unique charms. With a clear understanding of the scheme’s intricacies and requirements, you can embark on dual adventures through the United Kingdom and Ireland. Ensure that your documentation is impeccable, your intent is genuine, and your journey is filled with enriching experiences.

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