visas & working
EU citizens do not need to apply for a visa to study in Ireland. There are also a number of non-EU nationalities that do not need to apply for a visa to study. Information on those countries whose passport holders do not need a visa is available on the website of the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs.
It is important to apply for a visa well in advance, as the application form will take a minimum of eight weeks to process. You can check the decision on your visa online using the Visa Reference Number given to you when you apply.
Visa requirements are dependent on your nationality and whether your course is a 'degree' or 'non-degree' programme. Please note that the classification of programmes as 'degree' or 'non-degree' is used for immigration purposes only.
For more information on anything related to visas in Ireland, see the Irish Internationalisation website.
Are you an EU or non-EU student?
- You are a national of an EU member state and have received all of your post-primary education within an EU member state
- You are a national of an EU member state and have been residing in an EU member state for three of the five years prior to the start of your course
- You have been in full-time employment in an EU member state for three of the last five years prior to start of the first year of your course (please note, this only applies to students aged over 23)
- You have ordinarily been a resident in an EU member state for three of the five years prior to the commencement of the programme and your parents have been in full-time employment in an EU member state for three of the five years prior to the start of your course (please note, this only applies to students under the age 23)
A degree programme, as categorised for immigration purposes, is a full-time, daytime academic course leading to an award equivalent to, or above, level 7 of the National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ) AND comparable to one of these awards: ordinary bachelor degree, honours bachelor degree, higher diploma, postgraduate diploma, master's degree or doctoral degree.
Students cannot stay in Ireland to study for longer than seven years with the exception of some long courses (such as medicine). This may be extended under exceptional circumstances such as illness that prevents a student completing their course in time.
If you come to Ireland with a visa for a degree programme, you cannot then enrol in a non-degree or language course.
Visa requirements for non-EEA students on a non-degree or language programme
The maximum length of stay for students on non-degree or language programmes is three years and students are responsible for managing their studies to ensure compliance with this limit. Students cannot study in Ireland on a part-time or distance learning course.
Non-degree programmes - as categorised for immigration purposes - are education courses that are full-time, daytime academic courses leading to non-school awards at level 5 or 6 of the National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ), or awards at Level 7 or above which do not meet the criteria for degree programmes. The course must be included in the Internationalisation Register administered by the National Qualifications Authority of Ireland (NQAI).
Language programmes - as categorised for immigration purposes - are English language courses that must also be included in the Internationalisation Register. Courses must have a maximum duration of one year. Students may enrol on three separate English language courses to a maximum of three years.
What documentation will you need?
There are a number of documents required to apply for a visa, including an application form, a valid passport and evidence of your ability to financially support yourself. All documents must be originals and must be submitted in English. Where they are not in English, the original and a translation must be sent.
How to apply
For information on applying for a visa and the costs involved, you must consult your local embassy or consulate.
All non-EEA students must meet a number of conditions in order to be granted permission to stay in Ireland. These include being enrolled on an acceptable course, providing evidence that you have paid your fees and proving your English language capabilities.
Information for short-term language students
This is subject to the student being able to prove they are enrolled on a language course of less than 90 days and that they have paid their course fees in advance. In order to be granted permission to remain in Ireland, the immigration officer must be satisfied that:
- The reason for the visit is credible
- The student has a return flight and will leave at the end of the course
- They can support themselves financially whilst in Ireland
- They will obey the law
- They do not seek or engage in employment
- They are covered by private medical insurance
In general, all students will have no rights with regards to family joining or visiting them in Ireland. There are some exceptions to this, such as a student studying a PhD level course or students who can demonstrate private means to support their family, though these carry their own restrictions.
Registering with the Garda National Immigration Bureau
Upon successful registration a student will be given a certificate indicating that they have been given permission to study in Ireland. The registration lasts one year and is renewable on an annual basis (for up to seven years for degree programme students and three years for non-degree or language programme students). There is currently a charge of €150 payable at each registration.
First registrationAt first registration all students will be required to provide the following:
- Passport with a valid student visa
- Proof you are enrolled on a privately-funded course in a language/non-degree/degree programme (whichever your course is categorised as for visa purposes) that is included in the Internationalisation Register administered by the NQAI
- A letter of acceptance from your institution that confirms you have enrolled on a full-time, daytime course (for non-degree and language programme students this should show a minimum of fifteen hours organised daytime tuition a week)
- Proof that you have paid your fees. Where these are under €6,000, the full amount must be paid, and where they are over €6,000 you must pay at least this in advance
- A bank statement from an Irish bank that shows you have access to €3,000 at the time of registration to support yourself whilst in Ireland without engaging in business, employment or using state benefits
- Proof of private medical insurance. Travel insurance will not be accepted
For more information, and to find your nearest Garda station, please visit the Garda website.
The majority of EEA/EU students have the same rights to work and take part in internships as Irish nationals. Guidelines for non-EEA/EU students are detailed below.
Can I work whilst studying?
All non-EEA students, irrespective of their course programme, are entitled to take up casual employment part-time (up to twenty hours per week) during term time and full-time (up to 40 hours per week) during normal school vacations, providing they are:
- Registered with Stamp 2 permission
- Enrolled on a course registered on the Internationalisation Register
- Attending a full time course of education - for degree programme students this must be at or above NFQ Level 7
- Studying on a full-time course for a minimum of 25 weeks per year - for non-degree and language students this must include fifteen hours tuition a week, between the hours of 8am and 6pm
- On a course of a duration of at least one year
- Pursuing a course which will lead to a qualification (or a target for English language) recognised by the Minister for Education and Skills
Students who choose to work will also need to comply with employment laws, taxation requirements, Universal Social Contribution and Pay Related Social Insurance. For more information, visit the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Innovation website. Working above the maximum number of hours permitted will be treated as a breach of your conditions and you may be required to leave the country. Students may not be self-employed or conduct any business.
How many hours per week can I work?
All students can work up to twenty hours per week during term time and up to 40 hours per week during school holiday periods.
Can I support myself with my earnings?
No, although it may help with your living costs, you cannot rely on part-time employment to fund your studies. Visa and immigration registration requires you to prove that you have access to funds to support yourself without needing to work.
Can I do work placements?
- The internship or work placement must not exceed 50% of the total duration of the course and the student must not take part in the internship in a self-employed capacity
- The placement must form part of the course and contribute to the final award
- The institution must ensure that the placement is appropriate to the nature and level of the course
Post-study employment: The Third Level Graduate Scheme
Under the Third Level Graduate Scheme, some non-EEA students on degree programmes may be able to stay in Ireland for a set amount of time after they have completed their studies, in order to seek employment and apply for a green card or work permit. During this time the student may work full-time (up to 40 hours per week).
A student cannot renew their permission and can only use the Third Level Graduate Scheme once. After using the Scheme, students may not re-enter full-time education or register as a student in Ireland again.
To be eligible for permission to stay in Ireland for up to one year after study, the student must have:
- Studied in Ireland and completed a course at NFQ Level 8-10
- An award granted by a recognised Irish awarding body (overseas accreditation is not acceptable)