Unfair Irish Holiday Visa Demands for my Thai Wife

I haven’t been back to Ireland in well over 2 years so I’m looking forward to going there in December. Our main reason for choosing this time of year is so that my son can experience an Irish Christmas with our family over there. It does mean taking him out of school for a few weeks, but my wife and I feel that it will be worth it. This could be his last chance as a child to experience this time of year in Dublin because taking him out of school as he gets older will be more of a big deal. Timmy was in Ireland for Christmas 2009, but he was then too young to appreciate it.

Irish Immigration and Their Love of Hoops

In order for us to be able to go to Ireland in December we will first need to get my wife a tourist visa. Up until a few years ago the wife or husband of an Irish national could easily obtain this type of visa – in fact they were entitled to an Irish passport if they wanted. This has now changed and my wife is treated like any other Thai person who wants to visit Ireland – i.e. made to jump through lots of hoops.

I wrote a blog post a couple of years ago about the hassles we needed to go through in order to get my wife an Irish holiday visa. It seemed unnecessarily complicated but now they’ve added additional hoops for my family to jump through. As well as all the documents that were previously required we now need additional paperwork including:

– My bank statements for the last six months
– My wife’s bank statement for the last six months
– My wife’s house book (tabian baan) with a copy translated into English
– Evidence of travel insurance
– Utility bills from my home in Ireland (even though I have not lived there for 12 years!)
– Evidence of flight booked.

Another new requirement is that we turn up to the Irish Consulate in person in order to apply whereas before we could do everything by post. This means that I’ll lose a day of work. I will also need to hunt down an official translator to have my wife’s documents translated into English. After these hoops have been cleared we will then have to wait for a few weeks to hear if the visa has been granted.

Demands for an Irish Holiday Visa for my Thai Wife are Unfair

It might sound like I’m whining about having to provide a bit of paperwork, but I do feel that this whole system put in place by immigration is unfair. Irish people can just turn up in Thailand and get a holiday visa on arrival – the only documentation required for this is their passport. I thought these visa agreements were meant to be reciprocal? Oa is married to an Irish citizen, and is the mother of an Irish citizen, yet she is expected to provide a mountain of paperwork and assurances just to get a lousy holiday visa. I just don’t understand it. Ireland is hardly the land of milk and honey these days now the economy has tanked. My wife has been there twice already and had no problem sticking to the conditions of her visa. So why all the extra documentation? Oa doesn’t understand why Irish people can come to Thailand so easily yet it is so difficult for her to travel to Ireland – I can’t give her an answer.

The Irish Consulate here in Bangkok wants evidence that we’ve booked our flights but they do not want us to pay for it until the visa is granted. This is unreasonable because it is difficult these days to book a flight without first paying for it. In order to get a good deal I’ve already needed to pay over 3,000 euros on a non-refundable ticket. This means that if my wife’s visa is not granted I’ll lose a huge chunk of money.

I don’t expect there to be any problems with Irish immigration granting my wife’s holiday visa for Ireland this year but who knows. It does bother me that the demands for obtaining this visa are increasing every time we apply for it. The people we deal with at the Irish Consulate in Bangkok are consistently friendly and helpful but the demands coming from higher up the immigration chain are unreasonable and unfair.

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22 thoughts on “Unfair Irish Holiday Visa Demands for my Thai Wife

  1. I agree with you, Paul. And I think the documents that they now want for a VISIT, not to permanently immigrate, are absurd. But, it seems other than the utility bills from Ireland that these documents will not be too hard to produce and it is a good sign that the Irish Consulate staff seem cordial.I don’t know what a “house book” is, but hopefully it isn’t a difficult thing for you to produce. Yes, things are so much tighter all over, and in alot of counter-productive ways, it seems. 🙁

    1. Thanks Mary, we will get my mother-in-law to send the family house book by post, and I’ll find somewhere to get it translated. It just all seems like such a hassle for a holiday visa. I don’t know why but I have this inbred mistrust of immigration people – maybe it is low self esteem but I always expect them to refuse me. I remember on my first trip to the US I felt a little surprised when the immigration officer stamped my passport without any hassle. I don’t even feel comfortable going through Irish immigration even though I’m an Irish citizen 🙂

      1. Many of my Irish ancestors changed their names after arriving in the US, because of the racism and hostility to Irish immigrants at the time. It’s good to hear you got no hassle when traveling to the US. Times change. Sometimes for the better ;P

        I also detest immigration processes. As one of my favorite sayings: there are no illegal immigrants, there are only illegal governments.

        1. Hi Jeff, I’ve been through a couple of airports in the US and there was never any real problems. I’m always a bit surprised when they don’t refuse me 🙂 The only time I ever got grilled by US immigration was crossing over from Tijuana.

          I like that saying – it would be wonderful if all humans could just live where they wanted.

  2. I know Ireland is not in the Schengen zone, so they make their own complex procedures, but supposing you would travel to Ireland one day earlier, then under international law your wife and child(ren) should be entitled to visit you under practically all circumstances, since it’s a human rights issue. According to several treaty’s they undersigned, the new barriers being put up are ambiguous to say the least, since they assume your wife and child could be refused from visiting based on economic reasons, this however would violate a basic human right of family visit/unification.
    See: http://www.immigene.eu/immigration-and-family-reunification-the-international-legal-framework/

    Anyway, good luck with the whole procedure

    1. Hi I-nomad, I will definitely look into that, but I’m not sure that my wife has an automatic right to come to Ireland if I’m there. I doubt they would even allow her on the plane in Bangkok unless she had a visa for her final destination. The laws in Ireland were changed a few years back to make it much harder for the spouse of an Irish citizen to come into the country. This basically means that they can deny my son (Irish citizen) the right to visit his family in Ireland because he is too young to travel without his mother. That sucks!

      1. Paul,
        As a rule a person will not be allowed to board without the required travel documents, since that person will temporarily fall under the authority of the airlines. Eg. After being rejected at immigration they will be forced to fly that person back.
        I didn’t mean family visit/re-unification is an ‘automatic’ right as in ‘no visa required’. However, introducing additional barriers, which could result in denial of granting basic human rights is a very questionable practise.

        As a side note; it would be interesting to know what is regarded ‘wrong’ with Thai nationals according to the Irish, considering that people of Botswana, El Salvador, Guatemala, Kiribati, Latvia, Lesotho, Lithuania, Mexico, Nauru, Panama, Paraguay, Poland, Romania, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, Solomon Islands, South Africa, Swaziland, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Uruguay, Vanuatu and Venezuela, all which have also been ‘branded’ as developing countries by the IMF in 2012 do not need a visa for Ireland.

  3. Paul, I think it is just that anxiety that you are in a postion where people have tremendous power over you. Even if it is very unlikely that they would refuse you, the fact that the *possibility* exists is very anxiety and even anger provoking. I have gone through this . It is made all the worse, as you mentioned, by the fact that you can’t wait for their ok to get reasonable plane tickets and thus have invested a chunk of money which puts you in a postion of a “No” from immigration being aloss on several levels – emotionally due to the familial nature of the visit and your deep connections with Ireland from having grown up there, as well as the obvious financial loss and the justifiable anger which would most certainly be felt. So, even what is really likely a very minor threat, can feel much bigger as the loss it would entail would be no small thing for you and your family. That old bugaboo of uncertainty is hard.

    1. They really should have an app for that 🙂 I think the chances of them denying the visa are remote, but the slight chance that they can do this does press all my anxiety buttons. Mind you, I’ve a bad habit of becoming indignant about things that are only slight possibilities.

  4. I have a UK friend who went through the process of bringing his Thai wife to the UK. Some websites say this is impossible to do. But they found a website (in Thai) for Thai wives of UK people. This was enormously helpful as the Thai women on the site were able to give practical, step-by-step advice on how to navigate the process. Perhaps your wife can find this kind of info for Thai wives of Irish nationals. Places like Thai Visa are little help, populated as they are with falsehoods and derision. My guess is that comfort can be found in the Thai language community.

  5. I’m living in China with my Chinese girlfriend, and I also think the Irish requirements for a holiday visa are unfair. The same hoops you mention prevented me from traveling home to visit my family this year.

    1. I’m sorry to hear that Richard. Did the embassy actually refuse you or were the hoops just too much for you? It has been three weeks since we applied for my wife’s visa and we still have not heard anything back. I hope that is not a bad sign – in the past it only took a couple of weeks.

  6. Hi i just have quick question – my thai girlfriend of 4 years is hoping to visit ireland just for few weeks next year for 1st time- i’ve been over several times to thailand each year but she has yet to visit due to the retarded emigration rules

    i know most of the in’s and outs of the visa process but does anyone know from experience as we are not currently married -is it better to say she is just my friend or girlfriend visiting? or does it not make any difference?

  7. Ireland is part of the Common Travel Area with the UK and as such has less control over its visa regulations than you might think. Visa laws being reciprocated is not the norm; Irish people need visas to visit the US, as you know, but Americans do not need visas to visit Ireland.

    If you would like to make things completely worry free, you could get your wife a residence permit and never have to get a visa again by living together in Ireland for 3 months. You could make your wife an Irish citizen with the same rights as you by living there or in the UK for 1 year (citizensinformation.ie/en/moving_country/irish_citizenship/becoming_an_irish_citizen_through_marriage.html). These may not be feasible for you but I’m sure you understand that the government Ireland is mostly concerned with people that live within its own borders, regardless of where they were born.

    If you would like to talk about unfair immigration and citizenship laws, why not start with trying to find out how long you would have to live in Thailand with your wife in order to become a Thai citizen (hint: you can’t).

    1. Hi Gavin, I’m not sure if the information you are providing is correct. Where are you getting 3 months from? In the link you gave, it has the following conditions:

      “You must have had a period of 1 year’s continuous reckonable residence – see below – in the island of Ireland immediately before the date of your application”
      “You must have been living on the island of Ireland for at least 2 of the 4 years before that year of continuous residence”

      So that’s a minimum of three years.

      I’m simply looking to go back on holiday occasionally with my wife and son but the current laws means having to jump through a lot of hoops to do that. It basically means that although my 7 year old son has an Irish passport, his ability to visit there is restricted (e.g. we need to apply a couple of months before any trip so my wife can get a visa). If there was a family emergency back in Ireland, we would have to wait weeks before we could go back. If we lived in Ireland, and there was an emergency back in Thailand, we could fly back immediately.

  8. Hi Paul,

    I am about to jump through all those hoops. Has anything changed in the meantime? Did your wife receive her visa?
    I have another problem, ie my bank statements. I must supply 6 months statements which must be originals not downloaded. As I will be in Thailand for 6 months before my wife and children (both Irish passport holders) will travel back to Ireland, how will this be possible? It’s just plain crazy!

  9. hi.its an absolute joke the paper work i had to do to get a holiday visa to ireland.it just doesnt make sence.all these other countries can come to ireland take our jobs,go on the dole,get houses.something has to be done with a simple holiday visa..it was more easy to get my wife permanent residents in Australia than to get a bloody 2 week holiday to ireland.wake up ireland government,people only want to come and see the beauty off the place.why would you want to be illegal immigrant in ireland.its the country where i was born and love so it should be as simple as me to take care off that person

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