The large investments Ireland has made in its higher education system is one of the reasons why the country has welcomed so many international students over the last years. Ireland’s universities are among the world leaders in an increasing number of academic subjects.
Among the advantages that make Ireland so appealing to internationals are the fact that the country is part of the European Union, and the education system follows the Bologna system. The language of instruction used in universities is English, and you can benefit from smaller tuition fees and living costs compared to the UK. Moreover, Ireland is known for its friendly people and very safe environment, and it was also listed on the top countries where students are very satisfied with their study abroad experience.
If you decided to study abroad in Ireland and come from an EU/EEA country, good news! You won’t need an Irish student visa. Otherwise, follow the next steps and prepare to apply for your student visa.
Decide on a university to apply to and get your acceptance letter
If you’re still not sure where you want to study in Ireland, you will have to decide before you can start your student visa application process. After being accepted at an Irish university, you’ll get an acceptance letter required for visa application.
Type of visa you need to study in Ireland
- ‘C type study visa’ – for any study programme/course that lasts less than three months
- ‘D type study visa’ – if you applied for a course that lasts longer than three months
When and where to apply for the study visa in Ireland?
- You can apply for a study visa up to three months before your date of arrival to Ireland.
- To apply, you must simply complete an online application form on the website of the Irish Naturalization and Immigration Service.
- After filling the online application process, follow the instructions and submit your supporting documentation.
- You may be required to provide your Biometrics information as part of the application process.
- The processing time is variable, depending on the country you submit your application. Usually, you will get an answer in between four to eight weeks from the date on which your application is lodged at the Visa Office/Embassy/Consulate.
- It is best not to buy travel tickets until you receive an official answer from the Irish consulate.
Language requirements for my study in Ireland
International students must meet minimum English language requirements in order to be granted a student immigration permission.
You will be required to provide proof of English language proficiency through an internationally recognised certificate that has been issued within two years of the expected start date of the course to be considered valid.
Accepted English exams are:
- PTE (Pearson test)
Documents required for the student visa in Ireland
- Two recent colour passport sized photographs
- Passport and a full copy of any previous passports
- A signed letter of application including your full contact details (stating the reason you want to come to Ireland)
- Letter of Acceptance from the college/university
- Evidence accounting for any gaps in your educational history
- Proof of payment of the registration and tuition fees
- Copies of all academic qualifications, exam results required for university study
- English language proficiency certificate
- Proof you have sufficient funds to support your stay in Ireland without recourse to public funds, or the reliance on casual employment
- Medical Insurance
- Commitment to leave Ireland on the expiry of your visa
The estimated costs of living in Ireland for a student during one academic year is 7,000 EUR. Non-EEA students who are studying for a period of fewer than 6 months are required to prove that they are able to support living costs of 500 EUR/month.
Apply for a work permit in Ireland
EU and EEA students are allowed to work in Ireland without any restrictions, whether they take up full-time or part-time work.
Non-EU/EEA students can work:
- work part-time (up to 20 hours per week during semesters)
- full-time (40 hours per week during scheduled holidays)
However, they have to meet the following criteria:
- Hold a GNIB card – a certificate of registration you receive from the Immigration office at your arrival in Ireland
- Be enrolled in a study programme that is included on the government’s list of visa eligible courses.
Conditions to apply for residence permit
If you enrolled for a study degree that lasts longer than three months, you will need to register at the local Garda National Immigration Bureau (GNIB) as soon as you arrive in Ireland.
You will have to submit documents such as:
- four recent passport-size photographs
- documentation regarding your entry into Ireland (e.g. evidence of funds, or confirmation of enrolment on a recognised course)
The residence permit allows you to stay in the country for up to 12 months and will receive a Certificate of Registration (known as a Green Book), which must be renewed before it expires.