Ireland’s legacy looms large in the minds of many. Shaped by its rugged cliffs and glacial lakes, Ireland is the western-most country in Europe and far removed from the continent’s traditional cultural heartland. The culture that developed there, a unique blend of domestic and Continental influences, has produced the likes of famous arctic explorer Ernest Shackleton, literary giant Oscar Wilde, and noted chemist Robert Boyle – and a country like no other. Today that country is one of the richest, most developed and peaceful countries on earth, and still produces some of the best and brightest in the world. Its well respected universities – fully eight of which are in the world’s top 500 – include historic centers of higher education like Trinity College Dublin and modern research institutes of technology in several of the country’s larger cities and town. At the same time, Ireland’s membership in the European Union has also begun to attract international students of a different sort. It has capitalized on its role as one of the two English-speaking EU member states by developing a network of English language schools designed to serve students from Europe and beyond.
Ireland reputation, then, is unquestionable. If you are interested in learning English in Ireland, you may need assistance applying for a student visa.
Who needs a Ireland student visa?
Owing to its membership in the European Union, citizens of the European Economic Area do not need a student visa to study English in Ireland. In fact, according to Ireland’s Citizens Information Board, if you do not need an entry visa to enter the country, you do not need an student visa to study there. Moreover, EU citizens are entitled to free primary, secondary, and higher education (pending program acceptance).
For those not covered above, obtaining an Ireland student visa is still a straightforward process. Anyone with a tourist visa can study for up to three months without formal documents. A D visas, on the other hand, is intended for students pursuing any program which lasts longer than three months (this, necessarily, includes all degree-seeking students).
So how do I qualify?
If you do need a student visa, applying for a student visa in Ireland requires applicants to demonstrate acceptance, proficiency, and maintenance.
- Acceptance – applicants must prove that they have been accepted by an academic program that is full time (15 hours per week or more) and offered by an approved educational institution.
- Proficiency – Because English is the language of Irish higher education, applicants must prove that they are proficient in English prior to their arrival. NOTE: this requirement is, of course, waived, if applicants are enrolled in English as a Second Language course.
- Maintenance – All applicants must demonstrate that they have already paid their program fees in full prior to application submission. Moreover, they must provide evidence that they have sufficient funds (€7,000) to maintain themselves for the first year of their studies. For programs lasting more than a year, applicants must likewise provide evidence that they have access to a similar amount – €7,000 plus course fees – for each subsequent year.
How long can I stay?
An Ireland student visa entitles students to remain in Ireland for the duration of their approved course of study. Also, thanks to its “graduation scheme,” students who complete their studies in Ireland are granted a six-month extension on their visa to encourage their job search. If successful, they may then pursue a work permit or green card through their employer.
Can I work while there?
While in Ireland, students may work part time – up to 20 hours a week – but it is important to recognize that these earnings are considered a supplement, not an addition to, the maintenance requirements outlined above. Applicants must be able to satisfy the maintenance requirement without the addition of income earned while studying in Ireland.
Having addressed each of these questions in turn, then, when it comes to studying in Ireland there is only one that remains: when?