Studying in Ireland
If you are studying in Ireland as an international student, you may be considering whether you have the option to remain in the State once you have graduated.
As you approach the end of your studies, you will likely be faced with a difficult decision: return home, travel elsewhere, or see if you have the opportunity to remain in Ireland. Many non-EEA nationals who choose to study in Ireland feel settled in the State, choosing to extend their stay for as long as possible.
There are a few visa routes and immigration schemes which allow international students to continue living in Ireland after graduating. It is important that you establish which route is most suitable to you and your personal circumstances and apply before your Study Visa expires.
How do I settle in Ireland after studying?
To continue living in Ireland after your Study Visa expires, you must switch to an appropriate visa scheme. There are a few options open to international students, with the most popular being the Third Level Graduate Scheme.
Third Level Graduate Scheme
This scheme allows up to two years of stay-back for a non-EEA national student to seek employment in the State or to apply for a green card. To qualify for this scheme, you must demonstrate to Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) that you:
- Have graduated in Ireland with a bachelor’s, masters, or doctoral degree and can provide evidence of your qualification
- Have valid Stamp 2 student immigration permission
- Have not applied more than two times for this programme
- Have not exceeded the seven year maximum limit of stay for non-EEA graduates
In addition, your degree must have been granted by a recognised Irish awarding body.
Under the Third Level Graduate Scheme, non-EU/EEA students who have completed recognised degrees at Level 9 (i.e. masters degrees or post-graduate diploma) or Level 10 (PhD) will be able to remain in Ireland for 24 months while seeking employment or acquiring another form of work permit or green card. Those who have completed degrees at Level 8 (bachelor/higher diploma) will be entitled to remain for 12 months under the scheme.
This scheme permits graduates to work for up to 40 hours per week, however to work above 40 hours per week, the non-EEA student must obtain a relevant work permit.
Which employment permits can I apply for as a non-EEA graduate in Ireland?
If you have acquired permission to remain in Ireland post study, you may be considering applying for an employment permit. Ireland offers a number of different employment permits which allow non-EU/EEA nationals to work in Ireland without restrictions (e.g. full time work).
When considering post-study work, you should consider applying for one of the following:
- General Employment Permit
- Critical Skills Employment Permit
- Research Hosting Agreement
Who is eligible for the General Employment Permit?
The General Employment Permit aims to attract foreign nationals for occupations which are experiencing a labour or skills shortage in Ireland. Unlike the Critical Skills Employment Permit – which is specifically for high skilled workers who are qualified in a specific industry/sector – all occupations are eligible under the General Employment Permit, unless listed on the Ineligible List of Occupations.
To meet the criteria, you must have received a job offer from an employer which is registered with the Revenue Commissioners and Companies Registration Office. You must have the relevant skills/qualifications and experience for the role.
The position must offer an annual renumeration of at least €30,000 – or €27,000 for a non-EEA student who has graduated in the last 12 months from an Irish third level institution and has been offered a graduate position from the Critical Skills Occupations List.
Who is eligible for the Critical Skills Employment Permit?
This is specifically for those who have skills which are deemed critically important to growing Ireland’s economy. They are in high demand and highly skilled.
In order to qualify for this permit, the role you have been offered must feature on the Critical Skills Occupations List. In terms of the renumeration requirement for this permit, the role must:
- Have a minimum annual remuneration of €32,000 for a restricted number of strategically important occupations contained in the Critical Skills Occupations List, or;
- Have a minimum annual remuneration of over €64,000 for all other roles (excluding those on the Ineligible Occupations List – these roles do not qualify for the CSEP).
Or, in the case of nurses or midwives with a third level degree or diploma accepted by the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland, this is sufficient qualification.
What is the Research Hosting Agreement?
Another option for those who require immigration permission to stay in Ireland post-studies is to apply for the Research Hosting Agreement.
Hosting Agreements allow non-EEA nationals to work for a minimum of 3 months as a researcher for an authorised university. It replaces the need for a work permit, instead acting as a form of permission.
To qualify, the employer (academic institution) must be offering a salary of at least €23,181 per annum, or more for those with dependents. The researcher must also pay €300 to register with the relevant immigration authorities each year.