Visas & Immigration
If you are thinking about coming to Ireland to study, you will need to know if you require a Student Visa or not. You will also need to know if you require an Entry Visa in order to travel to Ireland.
- If you are from a country which is part of the European Union (EU) or the European Economic Area (EEA) & Switzerland, you do not need a visa to travel to Ireland.
- If you are from a country which is not part of the EU, EEA & Switzerland, then you will need to check if you need a visa before travelling to Ireland.
- If you need a visa, you must apply for an Entry Visa before travelling to Ireland. You must register with immigration after you arrive to Ireland to be issued with your Student Visa.
- If you do not need a visa to travel to Ireland, then you do not need an Entry Visa. However, you will need to register with immigration after you arrive to Ireland to be issued with your Student Visa.
Travelling to Ireland
- You must apply online for your student visa before you come to Ireland. Supporting information from the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) is available in several languages.
- When you complete the online application form, you will be given a unique reference number which can be used to track your application. You will also receive a summary of the supporting documentation required, the fee you need to pay, and where everything should be submitted to (often the nearest Irish Embassy or Consulate).
- If you do not need a visa to travel to Ireland, you will still need to explain to the immigration officer at the border control that you are coming to Ireland to study.
- You will need to have copies of your acceptance letter from your school, college or university, proof that you have paid the course fees, and proof that you access to at least €3000.
(Important: it is not possible to change to student status if you receive a tourist immigration stamp on arrival).
You will also need to register with immigration authorities soon after arrival in Ireland if staying for more than 90 days (or before the date on your passport stamp, if earlier). Continue reading for further details.
Documents to support your Student Visa application
Here is a summary of some of the key requirements (the full list of requirements can be found here):
- You must provide a letter of acceptance from a school, college or university which has courses on the Interim List of Eligible Programmes (ILEP)
***NOTE: You need to check that the course you are interested in is on the ILEP. If you choose a course that is not on the ILEP your visa will be refused!***
- Evidence that you have been paid the course fees (currently you an not expected to pay more than €6000 before your visa has been approved).
- Evidence that you have sufficient funds to support yourself while studying in Ireland. You will need to show that you or your sponsor have access to €7000 - the current estimated cost of living in Ireland for a student for one academic year - for each year of your course.
***NOTE: You must explain where the money in your bank account has come from - personal savings, a loan, a sponsor etc***
- Evidence of private medical insurance. Learn more
- A passport valid for at least 12 months after your proposed arrival date.
- If you include incorrect or incomplete documents in your application
- If you submit false documents, you will automatically be refused a visa and you will be prohibited from applying for another visa for 5 years
***NOTE: It may not be possible to recover your course fees if your visa application is refused due to submitting false documents***
- When applying for your student entry visa, you will need to show that you have sufficient funds to cover the entire period of your course, without having to rely on income from a part-time job.
- The immigration officer can refuse you entry if they are not satisfied with your documentation or your answers to their questions.
- Be sure to bring all of the documents you have received from your school or university (e.g. acceptance letter, insurance cover, proof of finance etc) so that you can show a complete record to the immigration officer.
On approval, you will get a temporary immigration permission stamped into your passport.
- One of the reasons to take care in choosing your course is because there are immigration restrictions on changing course/college.
- A change is not normally permitted during the first year of study and a student would need to show exceptional circumstances to receive permission to do so.
In general, non-EEA students have no rights to bring their families with them to Ireland. Therefore partners, spouses and children will have to make their own visa applications.
Students will not be allowed to be joined by children, except those born during their stay.
Yes, there are a few exceptions:
- PhD students (Level 10 on the National Framework of Qualifications) may be permitted to bring their immediate family if they have sufficient funds on a yearly basis to support themselves and their families. PhD students will be required to complete their doctorate within 4 years.
- The student is a participant in an academic programme agreed between the Irish State and another State whereby the student and dependents are sufficiently funded for all expenses in Ireland.
- The student can demonstrate that they have sufficient funds on a yearly basis to support themselves and their family without engaging in employment and without recourse to public funds, e.g. by enrolling a child in a private, fee-paying school. (Plans for an immigration levy to recover the costs of publicly-funded education if children are accompanying a parent have been proposed. However, these are yet to be introduced).
- The child is on a short visit to their parent(s) who can prove that the child will return to their home county at the end of their visit.
For further details, see Section G of the INIS guide New Immigration Regime for Full Time Non-EEA Students.
First time students from outside the EEA presenting for registration with the GNIB or INIS are asked to confirm that they are neither accompanied by children nor do they intend to have their children join them later on - unless covered by specific arrangements as indicated above.
Children born in Ireland are not automatically entitled to Irish citizenship unless they have an Irish or British parent. In all other cases, entitlement to citizenship is based on proving a firm link to Ireland through a parent being legally resident for at least 3 of the 4 years prior to the birth and documented as such by the Garda National Immigration Bureau (GNIB). Learn more
The Irish immigration service operates standardised holiday periods during which non-EEA students with a Stamp 2 permission can work full-time, rather than standard part-time hours. These apply for all types of course - from English language to PhD.
The two periods of the year allowed for full time work reflect the traditional summer and winter college holidays for academic programmes. These are currently defined as:
Summer: 1st June to 30th September (4 months)
Winter: 15th December to 15th January (1 month)
Full-time work means up to 40 hours per week. At all other times, a limit of 20 working hours per week applies. These are maximum weekly figures rather than average figures.
Note: There is no longer any role for holiday letters from colleges in relation to documenting student work entitlements
Students do not have a right to take holidays from college to work at these times if classes are normally scheduled during the dates specified. However, a student on a flexible programme, such as an English language course, may be able to negotiate a timetable to include additional holidays when booking the course.
Under immigration regulations, total holidays can never exceed one third of the period since the start of a course. A request to vary college holidays should always be made in writing (e.g. email). The written agreement of the college is required, and any such arrangements should be part of the study timetable issued to a student to register with the immigration service at the start of the course.
English Language Students
Advice from the immigration service makes clear that non-EEA students can only take holidays during an English course if the dates are part of their agreed timetable. This means that a student who would like to take a short holiday during their course should first get agreement in writing when they book their course.
Students should be aware that there is no requirement for English language schools to allow such holiday requests at the time of booking, and some may not have the flexibility to do so.
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