British-Irish Visa Scheme

The British Irish Visa Scheme permits certain people to enter and travel to and around the “Common Travel Area” of Ireland and the United Kingdom on a single visa for short stays only.

If you have any questions regarding the British Irish visa scheme, you can contact our expert immigration lawyers to discuss any concerns you may have or for some help navigating the application process. You can call us at 0333 305 9375, or contact us online seven days a week via our live chat.

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    What is the scheme?

    The British-Irish Visa Scheme, which is often referred to as just BIVS is a “memorandum of understanding” and agreement between the UK and Ireland (including Northern Ireland) to promote tourism.

    The scheme allows applicants of a specific nationality to enter Ireland and the UK and visit throughout the Common Travel Area (CTA), excluding the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands.

    The Common Travel Area Agreement is a long-standing agreement that dates back centuries. Despite Brexit, the CTA and the British-Irish Visa Scheme remain securely in place.

    Per immigration rules, the agreement is an agreement between the UK and Ireland that grants any UK citizen and any  Irish citizen specific rights, including the right to freely move, travel, study, and work in the other country without requiring a visa.

    In 2014, the two countries came to an agreement that added a BIVS visa route specific for Indian nationals and Chinese nationals, granting both Chinese and Indian nationals visa advantages and travel freely through the UK and Ireland without needing a separate visa for each trip.

    As such British citizens need not apply for this visa scheme. However, if you are a Chinese or Indian national but call the UK home by way of a varied visa, you may be required to apply for this visa to visit Ireland.

    It’s best to speak to our team of qualified immigration lawyers at Total Law, who can offer excellent advice on what is best for your personal circumstances.

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    What is permitted while on the British Irish visa scheme?

    Essentially, the scheme is designed for an Indian or Chinese visitor to travel for a maximum time period in the UK and Ireland under one, single visa. Previously, Chinese and Indian citizens who traveled to Ireland and the UK would have to apply for two separate short-stay visas, which required two application processes and two application fees.

    While on their travels, no work, paid or unpaid, is permitted.

    Who is eligible for the British Irish Visa Scheme?

    There are a number of requirements you must meet to be eligible for the scheme. These are:

    • Be 18 years or older
    • You must first travel to the country that is responsible for your visa. This means that if you hold an Irish Short Stay Visa but want to visit a country in the UK, you must first land in Ireland before travelling elsewhere. The BIVS visa does not require a Re-Entry Visa if you wish to return back to Ireland or the UK again.
    • You are only permitted to engage in tourism purposes in Ireland and the UK.
    • You must hold a valid passport
    • You need to be able to demonstrate that you can support yourself financially for the duration of your stay and will not become a financial burden on the state. You will need to provide a detailed bank statement, which covers a period of six months before you apply, highlighting that you have sufficient funds
    • You must be able to provide details of any previous applications

    Before starting the application, you will need to determine where you wish to start your travels. This is because you will need to know if you require a UK visa or an Irish visa. When making your decision, it is useful to know the following allowances:

    The maximum stay in the UK permitted with UK Visas is 180 days. The maximum stay in Ireland permitted with valid Irish Visas is 90 days.

    The maximum stay in Ireland permitted with UK Visas is 90 days or the remaining period of validity on your visa.

    The maximum stay in the UK permitted with Irish Visas is the remaining period of validity on the applicant’s permission to remain in Ireland that is granted upon arrival in the State per the passport stamp

    What is the application process for the British Irish Visa Scheme?

    Once you have identified which country you are seeking to make your application form, you can begin the application process itself.

    To be eligible for the British-Irish visa scheme, applicants need to apply in person at one of the many UK/Irish visa application centres across India or China. Applications cannot be made at centres outside these two countries.

    Depending on which country you decide to enter first, all applications for Irish visas will continue to be determined by the Irish authorities and applications for UK visas will continue to be determined by the UK authorities.

    As part of the application, you will be required to give your biometric information.

    What are the documents required for the British Irish Visa Scheme? 

    Depending on which country, UK or Ireland, you wish to enter first, the documentation will vary as the UK immigration rules vary slightly from the Irish immigration rules. It also will depend on which Irish visa and UK visa you apply for. That being said, both countries require necessary documents from applicants.

    The immigration officer reviewing your application needs to ensure you will be leaving the country after your maximum period of the visa runs out, and you have ties in your home country that you need to return to. They want to ensure as a visitor you have genuine intentions and will not be an illegal over-stayer.

    Documents that will likely be required of you include:

    • Travel tickets
    • Compelling reasons you have to return to your country of origin, such as a full-time job, a mortgage or family members or spouse/civil partnership to return to.
    • Valid Visa

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      What Irish Short Stay Visas are Covered by the Scheme?

      The Irish Visas that can be used to travel through the CTA for Indian and Chinese nationals are:

      The Work Visa and Study Visa are not endorsed by the British-Irish Visa Scheme.

      What UK Visas are Covered by the Scheme?

      For the most part, all standard visitor UK visas that have a maximum period of six months are included in the British-Irish Visa Scheme.

      UK visas eligible are:

      • Standard Visitor Visa
      • Business Visitor Visa
      • Child Visitor Visa
      • Prospective Entrepreneur Visitor Visa
      • Private Medical Treatment Visitor Visa
      • Student Visitor Visa
      • Permitted Paid Engagement Visa

      The Visitor in Transit and British Visitor Visa for people seeking to enter the UK for the purpose of marriage/civil partnership are not endorsed by the British-Irish Visa Scheme. Any UK visitor visa that has a validity exceeding 6 months is also not endorsed.

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        How Can Total Law Help?

        The process of selecting the correct UK visa and/or Irish visa and whether or not you require a transit visa for the scheme can be a very complicated process. Let Total Law do the hard work so that all you need to do is enjoy your trip to the UK and Ireland!

        Total Law is a team of accomplished lawyers who can help you every step of the way of the process and increase your chances of a successful application. Many people get rejected for the scheme for not providing adequate paperwork – don’t let that be you! We are available 7 days a week either by phone or via our convenient online chat. We look forward to working together.

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                  Frequently Asked Questions

                  If your visa has “BIVS” marked on it, it is permitted to travel to both Ireland and the UK. You must land first in the country which issued your visa.

                  The validity of your BIVS-endorsed visa depends on the country that issued the visa and if you are an Indian or Chinese visitor.  As an example, an Ireland short-stay visa is valid for a maximum of 90 days, whereas a UK short-stay visa is valid for a maximum of 180 days. So, even if you have a UK visa valid for six months after you enter Ireland, you cannot exceed 90 days. Regardless of how many valid days you have on your visa (whether it is Irish or British), you will have to split the time accordingly.

                  You are allowed to visit each place as many times as you wish so long as it is within the permitted duration of stay as decided by the Irish immigration officer when you first land. Your duration of stay allowed will be stamped clearly on your passport when you first arrive.