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British-Irish Visa Scheme – Full Guide

There is good news for Chinese and British citizens moving into the UK and Ireland. They can now enter both countries with the same visa. In other words, with the British-Irish Visa Scheme, Chinese and Indian citizens can now enter any of these countries. However, three are some requirements and guidelines for this visa type. For instance, you must have the word “BIVS” on your visa to be eligible. Secondly, there is a limited number of visa types that allows you to do this.

In this article, therefore, you will get the full guide on how to apply for a British-Irish Visa Scheme, the eligibility criteria and the types of visas eligible for this scheme. Don’t fail to read through to get this vital information.

What is British-Irish Visa Scheme?

The British-Irish visa scheme is a visa agreement that allows citizens of India and China to use the same visa to enter either the UK or Ireland. That is if you are from India or China. Then, you don’t need to apply for a visa to one country if you already have a visa to another country. In other words, if you have a British visa, you will not need another visa to, move into Ireland. In like manner, if you already have an Irish visa, you will not need a British visa to enter Britain.

Types of British-Irish Visa Scheme

Depending on the type of visa you have, you may enter Britain or Ireland once or more than once. So, it is important you know whether you have a single-entry visa or a multiple-entry visa.

Single-entry visa

This type of visa allows you to enter either the UK or Ireland once as an Indian or Chinese. You must enter through the country where you have a visa. However, you travel between the UK and Ireland as often as you wish. But once you leave any of the two countries, you will not be allowed to enter again.

Multiple-entry visa

With a multiple-entry visa, you can enter or leave either Britain or Ireland at any time. However, you must enter the country that issued you a visa first. But subsequently, you can enter from any country.

Eligibility for British-Irish Visa Scheme

The British-Irish visa scheme(BIVS) is not available to all nationals of foreign countries. Rather, it is available to only nationals of China and India moving into either Ireland or the UK. In addition, not all types of visas in Britain and Ireland qualify for this scheme. So, it is necessary to know the eligible visa types for this scheme.

Eligible nations for British-Irish Visa Scheme

Before you can become eligible for the British-Irish Visa Scheme, you must be a foreign citizen from either India or China. In addition, you must reside in India or China respectively. Meanwhile, you must also meet the following conditions. They include:

  • It is only available for short-term visas
  • If you are a minor, you must be accompanied by an eligible adult
  • The BIVS must be written on your visa

Eligible UK visas

Only Chinese and Indian citizens with certain types of UK visas are eligible for this scheme. Therefore, only Indian and Chinese citizens with the following types of visas are eligible for British-Irish Visa Scheme. They include:

  • All kinds of a short-stay visitor visa in the UK that is valid for an only 6 months
  • Permitted Paid Engagement Visa

Meanwhile, once your British visa allows you to stay longer than 6 months, you won’t be eligible for this scheme.

Eligible Irish visas

The following short-term visas in Ireland are eligible for British-Irish Visa Scheme. They include:

  • Tourist visa
  • Business visa
  • Family/friend reunification visa
  • Visa for attending a conference or an event

How to apply for a British-Irish visa scheme

Generally, there are no particular steps to applying for a British-Irish visa. However, if you want to get this visa, you will only need to follow the steps in applying for any of the visas eligible in either Britain or Ireland. Therefore, you can follow the steps for applying for:

However, you can follow the steps below when applying for any of the visa types eligible for the British-Irish visa scheme, they include:

Step 1. Find out the eligible type of visa

Since you don’t qualify for the British-Irish visa scheme with all types of UK or Irish visas, you must try to find out which type of visa you need. To do this, you can enquire from the British or Irish embassy in your country.

Step 2. Fill out the application form

Once you have discovered the type of visa you need. The next step is to fill out an online visa application form. Make sure you fill in the correct details in the spaces provided. You will need to provide your name, country of birth, the purpose of travel and the duration of your stay.

Step 3. Book an appointment

Before you can visit the embassy, you must book an appointment with them. So, try to contact the embassy and know the best time to come for your visa interview.

Step 4. Gather your documents

This is a very important step. This is because it will determine the success of your visa application. Make sure that you gather all the necessary documents. You must attend the interview with them.

Step 5. Attend your visa interview

Now, it’s time for your interview. Firstly, you must attend the interview on time. secondly, you must go with all the documents you have gathered in the step above. Any missing document means that you won’t obtain your visa. Thus, you won’t qualify for the British-Irish Visa Scheme.

Step 6. Wait for response

After your interview, you will have to wait for a response from the embassy. This can take about 15 days. However, if there is a hindrance, you may have to wait longer.

Requirements for British-Irish Visa Scheme

There are no particular requirements for the British-Irish visa scheme, rather, you will only need to meet the requirements for the British short-term visa or the Irish short-term visas you are applying for. Therefore, you may keep the following general Schengen short-term visa requirements handy. They include:

  • A copy of your passport
  • Receipt for visa payment fees
  • Photo
  • Cover letter
  • Proof of financial means
  • Travel insurance
  • Application form for either the UK or Ireland
  • Previous visa if available
  • Status of employment
  • Study documents

Frequently Asked Questions

How long is British-Irish Visa Scheme valid?

How long you will be eligible to use the British-Irish Visa scheme depends on the country issuing you the visa. For instance, You can stay with a short-term visa in the UK for up to 180 days. Whereas, Ireland only allows you to stay in the country for only 90 days with a short-term visa. So, you will have to consider these things while entering any of these countries.

Is the British Irish visa scheme suspended?

This scheme was suspended by the Irish government due to the COVID-19. This was to help in controlling the impact of the virus. Moreover, it will help in the maintenance of public health in the country.

What is the Irish Visa Waiver program?

The Irish visa waiver program is a program that allows holders of UK visas from certain countries to enter Ireland without an Irish visa. Simply put, nationals of selected countries residing in the UK do not need a visa to visit Ireland. The eligible countries include Bahrain, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, India, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Montenegro, Oman, The People’s Republic of China, Qatar, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates and  Uzbekistan.

Is a UK visa valid for Ireland?

Yes, some UK visas are valid for Ireland. This is because the Irish government has an agreement with the UK government to allow certain Nationals to use UK visas to enter Ireland. For instance, citizens of India and China can use the BIVS to enter Ireland from the UK anytime.

Can I use a UK visa to enter Scotland?

Yes, you can use a UK visa to enter any of the British countries including England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales. This means that once you enter England or Scotland on a short-term visit, you can travel freely among these countries.

Is Ireland in Schengen?

No, Ireland is not part of the Schengen area. Thus, it does not have a common border agreement with other Schengen nations. This simply means that you will have to show your passports whenever you want to enter Ireland from a Schengen nation. The Schengen nations include Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.


Finally, if you are able to get any of the short-term visas eligible for the British-Irish visa scheme, you can move freely between the two countries. However, depending on the type of visa you have, you may be allowed to enter once or multiple times.

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