Information for international students on COVID-19


Updated on 24 November 2020

ICOS knows that there is a lot of uncertainty and concerns in relation to COVID-19, so we have put together some helpful information and resources.

**Always refer to official sources for information, watch out for fake news, and be careful about what you read on social media**


What is COVID-19

COVID-19 is an illness that can affect your lungs and airways. It is caused by a virus called coronavirus. The novel strand of coronavirus that originated in Hubei Province, China, has spread to most countries around the world.


The government has published a new medium-term strategy to reduce the spread of COVID-19 while allowing businesses and society to continue as normally as possible.

The strategy has a 5 level alert system - Level 1 is the least serious, in other words, there are few cases of COVID-19, with Level 5 being the most serious - there are many cases of COVID-19. Each Level explains what is permitted for social or family gatherings, work and public transport, bars, hotels and restaurants, exercise activities and religious services.

You can see details of each Level by clicking on the links below:

The government has announced new Level 5 restrictions which will commence on 21 October at midnight for 6 weeks.

Some of the main implications of moving to Level 5 restrictions include:

  • Restricting your movements as much as possible and studying from home 
  • You must stay within a 5km radius of your home, and should only travel further than this for essential purposes e.g to attend a medical appointment (see link for more information)
  • You should not have any visitors to your accommodation and should limit the number of people you have contact with; however, if you live on your own, you can nominate 1 other household to be your ‘support bubble’ (see link for more information)
  • Evictions are prohibited
  • No training or matches should take place, with the exception of professional, elite sports
  • Bars, cafes, restaurants and wet pubs (pubs that only serve alcohol) may provide take-away and delivery services only. Wet pubs in Dublin remain closed
  • No social gatherings indoors or outdoors are permitted  
  • Museums, galleries and other cultural attractions will remain closed
  • Libraries will be available for online services only
  • If you are thinking about coming to Ireland to study English, you will need to wait until face to face classes resume. Immigration has warned that students who come to Ireland to commence an English course which is being taught online risk being refused permission to enter Ireland

See here for full details on the restrictions that will be introduced as part of Level 5. 

You must wear a face covering on public transport, in supermarkets, and other places where it is difficult to maintain social distancing.

    Information for International Students

    ICOS has put together information about the health, travel, educational and well-being matters, that international students may need to be aware of.  

    We will update this page with more information, as it becomes available and you can send us information by contacting us.


    Most higher education institutes have made plans to commence the new semester in September and October. Teaching will be delivered through a mixture of online and face-to-face classes depending on the situation with COVID-19.

    Health Information

    The most up to date information about COVID-19 will be available from Ireland's Health Service Executive (HSE). Here you will find information about the symptoms of the virus, as well as information about when to contact health professionals. You can also find regular updates on the World Health Organisation's website.

    Some advice from the Health Service Executive (HSE) is available on how to protect yourself and others from the spread of COVID-19, including advice on washing hands, using face masks, and shopping safely. More information in multiple languages can be found here.

    ICOS would like to remind students that they should not attend a GP in person if they believe they may have COVID-19. Instead, they should phone the GP in order for a test to be arranged. Any GP can arrange a test for you.

    Anyone who may have been in contact with a person who has COVID-19, is advised to contact HSE Live 1850 24 1850 for further information. All international students will have free access to the Irish healthcare system for treatment related to COVID-19.

    Travel Information

    **It is compulsory to wear a face covering on public transport, in shops, and other places where social distancing cannot be observed.**

    Students are advised to avoid all non-essential travel.

    If you have a COVID-19 related travel query, you can call the Department of Foreign Affairs advice centre on (01) 613 1733 or via webchat.

    You can download the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s Travel Wise App which helps people to stay safe and informed while travelling.

    From 28 May, everyone arriving to Ireland must complete a passenger locator form. Students must give the address of where they will stay for the first 14 days that they are in Ireland, and they will be asked to self-isolate at that location. See this link for further information.

    Accessible Information

    Deaf people can contact the HSE using Irish Remote Interpreting Service (IRIS).

    Translated information on COVID-19 in different languages.

    Self - Isolation

    If you have COVID-19 or suspect you have the virus, you must self-isolate.

    Advice on how to self-isolate can be found by clicking on this link.

    If you cannot self-isolate because of your accommodation situation, then you can self-isolate in one of the HSE's self isolation centres.


    The government has announced that all immigration visas that are due to expire between 20 September 2020 and 20 January 2021 have been extended until 20 January 2021. If your visa is due to expire during this period, then your visa has been renewed automatically. Anyone who already received one of the previous visa extension will also have their visa automatically renewed until 20 January 2021. Please remember that you must be enrolled in a English language course or third level course.

    Where an English language school has closed due to Government advice regarding COVID-19, all international students will be considered to have met their attendance requirement.All other rules will remain in place and students will be required to renew their registrations as usual.

    • International students on a Stamp 2 visa may no longer work more than 20 hours per week, except June - September, and 15 December - 15 January.
    • Immigration has introduced a new online Registration Renewal System for visa required international students. If you are living in Dublin, you need to register / renew your visa online. See link for full details
    • English language students who left Ireland before completing their course due to COVID-19 may return to resume their studies. The time spent outside of Ireland will not count towards the 2 years maximum period for English language studies.
    • English language students with a current Student Visa who are still in Ireland, and who have completed the maximum 2 years permitted as a language student, but due to COVID-19 are unable to return home, may remain in Ireland as students until the end of the year provided they re-enrol in an online course of study for the remainder of the year.
    • INIS say that English language students must enrol in a new course as soon as their previous course has finished, and that it is not possible to freeze classes until the lockdown ends.
    • INIS has announced a new temporary arrangement for eligible international students who have completed their studies and are planning to avail of the Third Level Graduate Scheme Visa (Stamp 1G).
    • Irish visa applications have been temporarily suspended by immigration. The only exceptions are for emergency or join family visa applications.
    • International students that have recently arrived to Ireland and have not yet registered with immigration, will not need to prove that they still have access to €3,000 (the financial requirement for a Student Visa) when immigration registration recommences.
    • International students who are waiting to change their immigration permission from a Stamp 2 visa to a Stamp 1, 1A, 1G or Stamp 4, can now email their documentation to Visit the INIS website for more details
    • For more information, see the immigration services' Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) document.

    Temporary Financial Support

    For more information on how to apply for the Pandemic Unemployment Payment, please visit this link.

    If you are still eligible to receive the COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment you need you to confirm your continued entitlement to receive this payment.

    If you access this benefit, you will not be penalised by immigration.


    Any International student that thinks they will have a problem paying their rent should inform their landlord immediately. If a solution cannot be found, students can contact the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) which provides a dispute resolution service for tenants and landlords. Evictions are prohibited during Level 5.    

    ICOS recommends that all students take steps to help minimise the spread of the virus, and comply with all necessary COVID-19 measures such as self-isolation. Even if self-isolation is not possible, students should do their best to restrict their movements and avoid contact with people.

    Public Transport

    Dublin Bus is operating a reduced service. Bus services throughout Ireland have also been reduced, including in Cork, Galway and Limerick - visit Bus Eireann for more details.

    The Luas continues to operate a normal service. The Dart and intercity train services have been reduced.

    For more information visit Transport For Ireland.

    Maintaining Wellness

    It is important that people can stay both physically and mentally well. While steps can be taken to remain well and avoid spreading the virus, you may come into contact with it or your learning environment can be affected.

    Physical well-being

    Staying well is important. Washing hands is particularly helpful in avoiding illness, see a guide to hand washing by clicking on this link.

    Mental well-being

    International students may experience anxiety or loneliness during these difficult times. Students studying at higher education institutes should check what supports are available at their college or university.

    There are also local mental health services in the community. You can freephone 1800 111 888 to find out more information on mental health service close to you. In an emergency, call 999 or 112.

    The HSE has a dedicated mental health website and the UK health service, the NHS, has developed and support for maintaining mental well-being during self-isolation. This includes a mood checklist, another useful resource can be found here.


    There have been some isolated reports of racist incidents specifically referring to COVID-19. Racism of any kind is unacceptable and if you experience hear of or witness racism, you can report it to the Gardai  and to the Racist Incident Reporting System iReport.

    Up to date information from Universities and Colleges

    All schools, colleges and universities are currently closed. ICOS has compiled a list of some of the main higher education institutions below where you will find up-to-date information on changes to lectures, tutorials, and labs, as well as any alternative arrangements that have been made.

    Athlone IT

    Champlain College

    CCT College Dublin

    Cork Institute of Technology

    Dublin Business School

    Dublin City University   

    Institute of Art Design & Technology

    Galway Mayo Institute of Technology

    Griffith College

    IT Carlow   

    Limerick Institute of Technology

    Mary Immaculate College

    Maynooth University

    National College of Ireland

    NUI Galway

    Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland

    Trinity College Dublin

    TU Dublin

    University College Cork

    University College Dublin

    University of Limerick

    Waterford Institute of Technology