Student Visa Requirements for Studying in Ireland
Like most other countries, Ireland requires candidates from many non-EU countries to have a visa to come and study in Ireland. If you are a citizen of any of the non-EU countries on this list you will need a visa to study in Ireland. The student immigration process is divided into two categories, based on whether you are applying for a degree programme offered by a higher education institution or you intend to pursue an English-language or non-degree course.
Applying for an Irish Student Visa
You must make your visa application on-line using the AVATS on-line facility , the online visa application facility is available worldwide and must be used by all applicants.
Your application will only be processed when the on-line form is completed AND the required documentation, passport photograph and appropriate fee are received by the relevant office as indicated by the on-line system.
You should read the visa application details very carefully. If you do not provide the documentation required, your visa will be refused.
Some points for you to note. When making an application you must;
- Complete the online application form
- Check the Irish Embassy details where your documentation is to be sent
- Provide a passport sized photo
- Ensure your passport is valid for 12 months
- Pay the application fee
- Provide a signed letter of application which explains why you require the visa
- A Letter of Acceptance from the Irish university, college or school, confirming you have been accepted and enrolled on a course of full-time education, involving a minimum of 15 hours organised daytime tuition each week. This letter must name you (the applicant) and verify the title/duration of the course. It should also confirm the amount of fees payable for your course, and that this amount has been paid. If the college has taken out medical insurance on your behalf, details of this must be contained in this letter of acceptance. If it is not arranged by the college, you must organise this yourself and provide evidence with your application.
- Evidence of Payment of Fees; Evidence that all fees have been paid prior to the visa application being submitted. These applications should contain either
- A copy of an Electronic Transfer of Funds from the applicant to the Irish Bank of the college, showing details of the beneficiary’s name, address, bank details and the same details for sender and a copy of a letter/receipt from the Irish college confirming that the fee has bee received or
- A valid receipt showing that the course fees have been lodged to an approved student fees payment service.
- Where the course fees are less than €6000 fees must be paid in full to the college. Where the course fees are in excess of €6000, you must pay at least this amount. The minimum amount is an Immigration requirement. However, the college you wish to attend may require full payment of fees.
- Fees paid to the college are a matter between the student and the college. However, in the event of the visa application being refused the college should refund the fee ( minus any small administration charge) within a reasonable period.
- Show evidence of language proficiency, you must show that you have the capacity to fully partake in your chosen course through the medium of English. INIS requires IELTS of 5 but most Irish universities and colleges generally require IELTS of 6.5
- Make sure you keep copies of all documents submitted
- If you are applying from China, India, Nigeria, Russia, United Arab Emirates or the United Kingdom, please also check the Irish Embassy website for details of further documentation which may be required.
You must provide evidence that you have access to sufficient funds to cover your tuition fees and cost of living expenses. You must show you have sufficient funds to support your stay in Ireland without recourse to public funds, or the reliance on casual employment. In order to provide evidence of access to sufficient finances you will need:
A detailed statement of your bank account covering a six-month period immediately prior to your visa application, and showing sufficient funds to cover your costs.
Produce official confirmation that you are in receipt of a scholarship.
Note; The estimated cost of living in Ireland for a student for one academic year is €7,000. You must demonstrate that you or your sponsor has ready access to an amount of at least €7,000 for each year of your studies, in addition to the course fees for each of those years. Where NON-EEA Students are studying for a period of less than 6 months the non-EEA Student must have access to €500 per month of the stay or €3000 whichever is the lesser.
Alternative Evidence of Finance – Degree Programme Students
A pilot programme has now been introduced that would allow degree programme students to provide an alternative to bank statements as a method of proof of finances. The alternative method is an “education bond” with a minimum value of €7,000. The bond must be lodged to an approved student fees payment service (e.g. the electronic fee payment service offered by EduStep)
Check on your Visa Status Regularly
- You should apply as early as possible for your visa as it normally takes eight weeks for it to be processed but in busy periods it may take longer than this.
- You can check online to see if your visa has been processed (using your Visa Application Number). This list is updated weekly.
- If you get approval for a visa, the Embassy to which you sent your documents will affix a visa to your passport.
- If you are refused a visa you may appeal the decision within 2 months.
Note: Ireland is not a member of the Schengen Agreement. You will, therefore, still have to apply for an Irish visa even if you have a visa for a Schengen country.
Conditions for Non EU Students
A Degree Student;
- You must show you are progressing academically and passing exams to advance to the next year of the programme.
- You must provide proof of full-payment of courses to the higher education institution.
- You can’t avail of any State Benefits.
- You can only stay in Ireland for a maximum of seven years.
- You can’t move from a degree programme to the language and non-degree programme.
- Students must show a letter of renewal to prove they have maintained private medical insurance.
Students who have paid some or all of their fees to a college and are then refused a visa will be refunded the cost of the course. They must provide documented evidence of this refusal. Any charge or percentage charge deducted from fees by the college for administration purposes must be clearly stated in its refund policy.
Registration in the State (GNIB)
Non-EU students hoping to come to Ireland to study for more than 90 days have to, by law, register with the Garda National Immigration Bureau (GNIB). (The Garda Síochána is Ireland’s police force). This applies to you even if you do not need a study visa to enter the country.
Before being registered as a student on a degree programme (this applies to those who require a visa and those who don’t), you must;
- Have a valid passport
- A valid student ID card
- Have a letter of acceptance from the higher education institution, confirming you have been accepted and enrolled on a programme of full-time day-time education.
- Prove that fees have been paid to your preferred higher education institution. Where your fees are below €6,000, the full amount of the fees must be paid in advance. Where your fees exceed €6,000, then at least this amount must be paid in advance.
- Show you have private medical insurance at the time of registration.
- Registration fee of €300 (payment by bank giro or credit card)
Note; Visa Required students must show they have access to €7,000 before they may be issued with a visa. Such students from April 1st 2011 must have access to €3,000 at first registration at the Garda National Immigration Bureau Office, 13-14 Burgh Quay, Dublin 2, Ireland.
Successful candidates will be given a certificate of registration allowing them to study here. This registration lasts for one year and must be renewed each year, up to a maximum of three years.
There is currently a charge of €300 each time a student registers.
I want to travel to another country for a weekend/holiday. Do I need another visa?
Your study visa only allows you to enter and leave the country once. If you wish to leave for a short period (including travel to Northern Ireland), you must apply for a re-entry visa before you make your travel plans. You can apply for your re-entry visa by post.
Medical Insurance Requirements
You may feel like you’re invincible, but accidents happen to even the fittest of us. In any case, under immigration law, all non-EU students must have their own private medical insurance to get into Ireland. As well as accident and illness, the insurance should cover you for a stay in hospital.
- You need to have proof of your private medical insurance when registering with the immigration authorities.
- If you are part of a group insurance scheme operated by your college, a letter of enrolment mentioning this will be adequate proof for the authorities.
- If you are not part of such a scheme, you must secure your own medical insurance from Ireland.
- For newly-arrived first year students, Irish travel insurance will be proof enough if it covers you for one full year or where you are staying for the duration.
- Proof will be required of insurance coverage of a minimum of €25,000 for accident and €25,000 for disease, and as stated, for any stays in hospital.
- After the first year, travel insurance is no longer valid and you must source private medical insurance for any subsequent years.
- For registration in second or later years, all non-EU students can show they are in receipt of private medical insurance from Ireland by way of a letter of renewal.
It’s extremely important to note that the cancellation of medical insurance following registration is a breach of immigration conditions. Also Immigration Authorities do not have to register you if you fail to obtain proof of insurance in English.
Students from EU member states who are in possession of the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) are entitled to public health services in Ireland. This card is available from health authorities in your home country. Further information to your rights on healthcare while here can be obtained on the EHIC website.
Subsidised dental care is not generally covered under medical or student services here, and, as dental treatment is relatively expensive in Ireland, students are advised to have a check-up before they travel. The Student Health Service can provide you with details of a local dentist if needed.
Meningitis C Vaccination
Although more cases occur in the under one (infant) age group, the highest mortality rate from Meningitis C is in the late teenage years, and students under 23 years of age are advised to get a vaccination before they arrive.
The Irish Department of Health and Children has a national programme to immunise everyone up to and including 22 years of age against this illness.
Meningitis can kill within hours and it’s hugely important to know the symptoms – which are often confused with colds and flu. The most common symptoms are vomiting, fever, severe headache, painful joints and stiff neck.
Other signs which develop as the disease takes hold include dislike of light, disorientation, reduced awareness – possibly leading to a coma and a red or purple rash which does not fade under pressure. If you are worried in any way or suspect you may have meningitis, contact your doctor or nearest hospital immediately. With meningitis, every second counts.