- Requirements for non-EEA students
- Language courses and degree programmes
- Studying for over 3 months without a visa
- Studying for under 3 months without a visa
- Studying for under 3 months with a visa
- Studying for less than 3 months with a visa
- Immigration stamps for students
- Frequently asked questions
- How can I get help from the IAS?
Studying in Ireland
The requirements for individuals wishing to study in Ireland vary depending on length of course, country of origin and personal circumstances. The Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) outlines specific criterion that must be adhered to in order to secure a study visa and permission to remain. IAS’ immigration experts are well-versed in every aspect of Irish immigration law and can advise you on exactly what your individual situation requires and whether you are eligible to study in Ireland.
This includes establishing whether you require a visa to travel to Ireland, the relevant steps you ought to take both prior to and upon entering the State and practical assistance with applications.
A key factor which will determine the type of immigration permission you must request and the requirements you must meet is how long your course of study is. Both long-term (over 90 days) and short-term (less than 90 days) study require you to fulfil unique criteria.
Students from EU/EEA member states can apply for third level courses in Ireland through the Central Applications Office (CAO). This is the same process that the majority of Irish students will undergo.
However, applicants who are from a country which is not within the European Economic Area (EEA) must acquire further permission to study in Ireland, which can involve submitting a study visa application form to the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) and meeting several requirements.
What are the general requirements for all non-EEA students?
If you are an international student applying to study in Ireland, you must be enrolled in – and have paid for – a full-time course on the official Interim List of Eligible Programmes (ILEP) which includes English language students, undergraduates, postgraduates, higher national diploma or PhD students.
Your provider and course must feature on the ILEP as those listed will have met certain criteria including the mandatory provision of learner protection.
Courses of study included in the ILEP for immigration permission are:
- Higher Education Programmes leading to Major Awards/Non-Major Awards
- Professional Awards
- English Language Programmes
Additionally, all non-EU students – regardless of course length or whether they are from a non-visa required or visa required country – must provide a Letter of Acceptance when registering for immigration permission, which is from their institution and confirms that they have been enrolled on a course of full-time day-time education.
All non-EEA students must also have private medical insurance at the time of registration.
Non-EEA students must meet minimum English language requirements to qualify for student immigration permission.
English language proficiency must be proved through an internationally recognised certificate that has been issued within two years of the expected start date of the course. Accepted English qualifications/examinations are: IELTS, TOEFL and PTE (Pearson test).
What are the conditions for a language course and a degree programme?
International students enrolled on a long-term language course in Ireland:
As of January 2016, non-EEA individuals studying on an ILEP listed language course will be granted immigration permission of up to 8 months.
However, it is possible to study a maximum of three language courses, meaning the total length of immigration permission that can be granted to a student attending three language courses is 2 years.
One primary condition is that non-EEA nationals studying in Ireland on a language course must have a minimum attendance level of 85% and are obliged to take a recognised exam at the end of the course. Those who do not observe these requirements will not be eligible to acquire further immigration permissions.
International students enrolled on a degree programme in Ireland:
Degree programmes are courses which lead to a recognised award. They are categorised in terms of ‘levels’, as shown below:
- NFQ Level 7 = Ordinary Bachelor Degree (3 years duration)
- NFQ Level 8 = Honours Bachelor Degree (3-4 years duration)
- NFQ Level 8 = Higher Diploma (1 year duration)
- NFQ Level 9 = Postgraduate Diploma (1 year duration)
- NFQ Level 9 = Masters Degree (1-2 years duration)
- NFQ Level 10 = Doctoral Degree (approximately 4 years duration)
For those studying on a full-time degree programme, the maximum duration permitted to stay in Ireland is limited to seven years. Applicants must provide proof that fees have been paid to the college (if fees are below €6,000, the full amount must be paid in advance). This is in addition to providing evidence that you have at least €3,000.
I am from a non-visa required country & studying in Ireland for over 3 months, what are the requirements?
While not every non-EEA national is required to secure an entry visa to travel to Ireland, all non-EEA nationals must register for immigration permission as soon as they arrive.
This enables international students to remain in Ireland to live and study for over 90 days.
This means that if your country of origin is listed on the ‘non-visa required countries’, you do not need to apply for a study visa or any other visa to travel to Ireland.
However, it is crucial that you register upon arrival with an immigration officer.
At the time of registration, you must have at least €3,000 if you are studying on a course which runs for over 6 months – this is in addition to course fees.
I am from a non-visa required country & studying in Ireland for under 3 months, what are the requirements?
For non-EEA nationals who do not require a visa and who will be studying in Ireland for under three months, the requirements differ slightly to those who will be remaining in the State on a long-term course.
If you will be studying on a course which has a duration of less than 90 days, you do not need to register or apply for a study visa however you do need to provide proof upon arrival that you have a valid reason to enter Ireland. This means:
- You must state a credible reason for your visit
- You must have a return flight booked which is due to leave at the end of your stay
- You can support yourself financially while here
- You must not engage in work
Applications from students who can demonstrate that they are enrolled on a short-term ILEP course of less than 90 days and have paid the course fees in full will be treated as educational tourists.
I am from a visa required country & studying in Ireland for over 3 months, what are the requirements?
You will largely be subject to the same conditions as those from non-visa required countries who are studying in Ireland for over three months. The key difference is that you are also required to apply for a ‘D’ study visa – which is classed as a long-stay visa – before travelling to Ireland. This ought to be applied for up to three months before you are due to travel. One of our immigration specialists at IAS can help to guide you through the visa application process, ensuring that you provide all the necessary documentation.
You must still register for immigration permission upon arrival – your visa only covers entry into the State. Additionally, your study visa application must demonstrate that you have at least €7,000 initially and that you or a sponsor have access to €7,000 for each subsequent year of your studies. This is in addition to the course fees for each year.
It is important to note that as of 13th May 2019, any student from a visa required country with a valid Irish Residence Permit (IRP) or GNIB card is no longer required to obtain a re-entry visa when travelling to and from Ireland. Your IRP/GNIB card and passport is sufficient. However, if you are a student who is planning to travel outside of Ireland within 4 months of arriving, you should apply for a multiple-entry visa.
I am from a visa required country & studying in Ireland for under 3 months, what are the requirements?
For those who wish to study in Ireland for less than 3 months and who are from a visa required country, you must apply for a short stay ‘C’ visa before travelling to Ireland. Your visa application must be submitted after you have been offered a place on your course. Once you have enrolled on and paid for your course of study, you are then required to apply for a short stay Visit (Tourist) Visa.
For further guidance with your visa application including help with a study visa application form and any payment enquiries, you can visit our Study Visa Application page or seek legal guidance from one of IAS’ dedicated immigration lawyers in Ireland by calling (+353) 061 518 025.
A short stay Visit (Tourist) Visa allows you to attend a course of study for up to 90 days such as an English language, Irish language or cultural studies course as well as being able to participate in other tourist activities. As with every non-EEA national studying in Ireland, you must meet the general requirements as outlined previously.
Non-EEA visa required students on the Visit (Tourist) Visa cannot work or use any publicly funded services during their stay in Ireland. Visa-required nationals who have entered Ireland on a ‘C’ visa – such as the Visit (Tourist) Visa – cannot extend their permission to remain.
Which immigration stamp will I be granted as an international student in Ireland?
All non-EEA students will receive a ‘landing stamp’ from an immigration officer upon arrival if they are granted permission to enter the State. This will also show the reason for visiting – in this case, to study.
For non-EEA nationals who are due to study on a short-term course and who will therefore be staying in Ireland for a period of less than 90 days, this is the only stamp they will receive.
Those studying on a full-time, long-term course and who will be staying in Ireland for more than 90 days must register for immigration permission as explained throughout this page. If approved, they will receive a new permission stamp in their passport which indicates permission to remain in the State for over 90 days. The stamp allocated to students who will be staying in Ireland for over 90 days is typically Stamp 2.
Immigration stamps are what outline the key conditions of your stay in Ireland. Stamp 2 indicates that the individual has been granted permission to study a full-time course on the official ILEP for a specified period.
This stamp is not reckonable as residence when applying for citizenship by naturalisation. They key conditions for those given Stamp 2 permission include:
- You are not permitted to receive any benefits or use publicly funded services (unless you have other forms of entitlement)
- You are able to work in casual employment for a maximum of 20 hours per week during term time and 40 hours per week during holidays
Those who are granted Stamp 2 permission will also receive an IRP (Irish Residence Permit) which Is a registration certificate.
Certain students may instead receive Stamp 2A permission, depending on their circumstances. Stamp 2A immigration permission is granted to non-EEA students who are not studying on an ILEP course.
This is for a specified period and is usually only given to those who are studying at either a private secondary school in Ireland or who are doing a semester abroad at an Irish university or college.
The requirements of a Stamp 2A are:
- You must not receive any benefits or use services which are publicly funded
- You must have private medical insurance
- You must not engage in any work, business, trade or profession
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Under 18s are able to study in Ireland however must meet further requirements. For a non-EEA national who is from a visa-required country – such as China – and who is under 18, the process still consists of firstly securing a place on your course of study.
If you wish to pursue a course of 2nd Level Education in Ireland, you must be enrolled at a private fee-paying school or college. Either you and/or your sponsor must pay course fees prior to applying for a visa.
From here, you will be required, as over 18s are, to submit a visa application – either for a short-stay or long-stay visa depending on the length of your course.
In addition to the general requirements outlined previously, under 18s must:
- Provide their birth certificate with their application
- Have a minimum overall band score of 5.0 in IELTS (English language requirement)
- Provide signed consent from both parents/guardians which provides full details of the person who will care for the minor during their stay in Ireland
- Provide copies of the biometric page of the parents/guardians’ passports/national identity cards with their signatures showing
- Provide the address of where the student will be staying while in the Ireland as a student/a letter from the school which confirms all necessary accommodation is provided
Importantly, when an under 18 is granted permission to remain, this does not mean other family members can accompany or join the student in the State.
For further legal advice and professional guidance for international students who are under 18, get in touch with an IAS immigration lawyer in Ireland today on (+353) 061 518 025.
We have decades of experience with helping international students to secure relevant visas/immigration permissions and can help you to meet the exact requirements dependent on your personal situation.
As previously mentioned, the requirements for a non-EEA student can be largely dependent upon whether you come from a non-visa required or a visa-required country and on how long you intend to stay in the State.
However, when it comes to work eligibility, those from both non-visa required and visa required countries who will be staying in Ireland for under three months are unable to work.
Only a student who has been granted Stamp 2 permissions is eligible to participate in casual employment. This allows them to work a maximum of 20 hours per week during term time and 40 hours per week during holidays (the months of June, July, August and September and between 15 December to 15 January).
Despite being able to take up casual employment, students are still required to pay for their course and must prove they can support themselves financially throughout their time in Ireland.
One of our immigration experts can thoroughly explain this process to you and will assess whether you would qualify to work in Ireland during your studies. We can then advise you with any further queries you may have and would be more than happy to assist with any applications for immigration permission/visa purposes.
Call us on (+353) 061 518 025 to find out more.
Students may be eligible to stay in Ireland post-study under the Third Level Graduate Programme. This programme allows non-EEA graduate students who hold an award of a recognised Irish awarding body to stay in Ireland after their studies.
The purpose of this is to allow international graduates who have completed their studies in Ireland to apply for either a general employment permit, a critical skills employment permit or research hosting agreement.
Again, there are set requirements which must be met in order to be granted further permission to remain in Ireland having been a student here. Whether you qualify or not for this scheme will depend on a number of factors specific to your personal situation and conduct during your time as a student in Ireland.
However, some of the key requirements to stay in Ireland under the Third Level Graduate Programme are:
- You must have been notified in writing by the relevant awarding body on or after 1 January 2017 that you have achieved the award for which you enrolled as a student
- You must hold a current Stamp 2 student immigration permission and an up-to-date immigration registration card
- You must apply within six months of being notified by the relevant awarding body or institution that they have achieved the award for which they had enrolled as a student
- You must not have exceeded the seven-year limit on your permission as a non-EEA national student in Ireland
- You must comply with the laws of the State and are expected to be of good character and must not have come to the adverse attention of the authorities whatsoever
- You must present evidence of the final award being attained or, if your graduation ceremony is yet to take place, an official letter from the awarding body/institution confirming that the award has been achieved
As explored throughout, IAS’ immigration specialists are able to offer you expert legal guidance if you wish to study as an international student in Ireland.
We offer a range of legal services to suit you, including our two primary, prestigious packages:
- Our advice package for those who require detailed, comprehensive legal advice and a plan of action
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To enquire about our packages and any further services we offer, call us on (+353) 061 518 025 or complete the online enquiry form.