Immigration rules for full-time non-EEA students
Studying in Ireland
Non-EEA nationals coming to study in Ireland must be enrolled in an eligible full-time course. You can read a list of frequently asked questions for non-EEA students on the website of Immigration Service Delivery (ISD).
Students who are from a country that requires a visa to enter Ireland, must apply for a student visa. Their visa application must include evidence that they have access to €10,000 when they come to Ireland.
All non-EEA students, including those who do not require a visa, must register with their local immigration officer to get permission to remain in Ireland for more than 90 days. Students who plan to study for up to 6 months must have access to €700 per month or €4,200 (whichever is the lesser) when they first register with their local immigration officer.
Finding a full-time course
Non-EEA nationals coming to study in Ireland must be enrolled in a full-time course in one of the following categories. They are not allowed to come to Ireland to do a part-time or distance learning course.
Higher education programmes
Non-EEA nationals can enrol in an eligible course at level 6 or above on the National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ). Eligible courses are listed on the Interim List of Eligible Programmes (ILEP). The maximum time they can study in Ireland at this level is 7 years. There are exceptions to this limit for students doing a Ph.D or a course such as medicine and for students in special circumstances such as illness.
Students must have a certain standard of English. They must also prove that they are progressing in the course, for example, passing exams. The ISD website has more information on the requirements, including immigration rules for students on higher education programmes, and the requirement to have medical insurance.
Third Level Graduate Scheme: When they graduate, students may get an extension of their permission to remain in Ireland under the Third Level Graduate Scheme. The scheme allows them to find employment and apply for a General Employment Permit or Critical Skills Employment Permit.
Graduates with a level 8 qualification may get a 12-month extension to their residence permission up to a maximum of 7 years of student permission overall (that is, total time spent on Stamps 2 and 1G). Graduates with qualifications at level 9 or above may get a 24-month extension (2 blocks of 12-months) to their permission up to a maximum of 8 years of student permission overall.
Eligible English-language courses are listed in the Interim List of Eligible Programmes (ILEP). Further education programmes and overseas-accredited vocational education and training programmes are no longer listed as eligible courses and the Internationalisation Register has ceased to exist.
The immigration permission to attend a 25-week English-language course is for 8 months. New students attending language courses may be granted permission for a maximum of 3 language courses. This amounts to a total immigration permission of 2 years (3 x 8 months).
ISD has published a frequently asked questions for students.
Student visa/permission renewals
You can renew your permission with the local immigration officer for the district in which you live. If you live in Dublin, you can renew your student permission online. This means that you do not have to book an appointment to attend the immigration office in person. Your Irish Residence Permit will be sent to you by post.
If your registration is refused and you believe that you have exceptional circumstances, you can apply for an extension of your student permission by post only.
Students may not change course during the first year of study. After that they may be allowed to change to another course, provided it is at the same or a higher level. They may not change from a full-time to a part-time course.
Non-EEA students with Stamp 2 permission to remain are allowed to take up casual employment. They can work up to 20 hours a week during term time and up to 40 hours a week in the holidays. Holiday periods have been standardised – June to September inclusive and from 15 December to 15 January.
Students with stamp 2A permission are not allowed to work.
Non-EEA students are not entitled to social welfare payments. One of the conditions of their residence permission is that they have enough money to support themselves and live in Ireland without claiming State benefits.
Generally, non-EEA students coming to Ireland have no right to bring their family with them. Spouses, partners and children of non-EEA nationals can apply to enter and live in Ireland in their own right, but they cannot apply on the basis of their relationship to a non-EEA student. There are some exceptions to this rule, for example, for Ph.D. students or for students who can prove they have sufficient funds to support their family.
Short-stay language courses and semesters
There are special arrangements for non-EEA students coming to Ireland to do a short course. The course must be for less than 90 days.