Studying in Ireland: how to get your student visa
calendar_month 01 Mar 2011, 00:00
So you want to study abroad in Ireland. To help you get there, QS Top Universities answers some of the questions about student visas, and how to get one.

Studying abroad in Ireland for your undergraduate degree is an exciting prospect and, once you get there, the experience you have will last a lifetime. But it's not as easy as booking a flight, packing your bags and making sure you have enough money for your text books as well as a pint of Guinness. Ireland isn't one of the strictest countries in terms of immigration criteria, but some students will still need a visa. Check to see if you're one of them.
Do I need a student visa?
If you are a citizen of a EU/EEA member state, then you can study in Ireland without a visa. That means that you can just back your backs and book a flight providing you have been accepted into an undergraduate degree program that is!

If you are from a country listed below, then you don't need a visa either:

A-L Andorra, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Australia, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Croatia, Dominica, El Salvador, Fiji, Grenada, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Hong Kong (unless you hold a British Hong Kong passport), Iceland, Israel, Japan, Kiribati, Lesotho, Liechtenstein

M-Z Macao, Malawi, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco, Nauru, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Norway, Panama, Paraguay, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, San Marino, Seychelles, Singapore, Solomon Islands, South Africa, South Korea, Swaziland, Switzerland, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Tuvalu, United States of America, Uruguay, Vanuatu, Vatican City, Venezuela.

However, if you are from a country that is not a EU/EEA member state and is not listed above, then you DO need a student visa if you wish to study abroad in Ireland.
What documentation do I need?
The student visa application form can be downloaded from websites (such as those recommended at the bottom of this article) or obtained from the Irish embassy or consulate in your country.

You will also need the following documents (in English) as part of your student visa application:

- Letter of acceptance from a recognised school/college/university in Ireland confirming that you have been accepted on a course of study. This course of study must be full-time (lasting an academic year) and have a minimum of 15 hours per week study time.

- Evidence of your academic ability to pursue the chosen course through the English language (unless it is an English language course).

- Evidence that the fees for the course have been paid in full.

- Evidence that you have immediate access to at least a7,000. This is the estimated cost of living in Ireland for a student for one academic year.

- Evidence that you or a sponsor have access to at least a7,000 for each subsequent year of your studies, in addition to the course fees for each of those years.

- Evidence that you have private medical insurance.

- An explanation of any gaps in your educational history.

- Confirmation that you intend to return to your country of permanent residence when you leave Ireland.

Once you have completed the form and you have all of the above documentation, you can submit your application to the Irish embassy or consulate of your country. If there is no Irish embassy or consulate in your country, send your visa application to the Visa Office, Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service, 13-14 Burgh Quay, Dublin 2. This application must be done before you travel to Ireland to start your study.

It will take a minimum of eight weeks for your student visa to be approved, providing you supply all of the correct information, so make sure you don't leave it too late.
Can I extend my student visa and if so how?
If, after a period of study, you would like to extend your student visa for Ireland, you will need to fill out more forms. Your local University registration officer can advise you on the process. Your application will also need the following information:

- Details of and proof of payment of course/study fees

- Details of the course of study

- Information on where you will live

- Evidence that you are self-sufficient

- Copy of your passport with your original study visa

- Study visa reference number and your nationality

- Details of attendance requirements if this is a further education course.

What else do I need to know?

The Ireland Naturalisation and Immigration Service has extensive information on medical insurance, employment history, immigration history and the right of appeal if your application for a student visa is declined.

Do make sure that your passport is valid for at least 6 months after the expected completion of your studies in Ireland and if you hold any previous passport, you should also submit this with your application.
Helpful websites when applying for a student visa to Ireland
The above information is an initial guide to student visa applications for Ireland. It is by no means a comprehensive list of all the information you need. Make sure you research thoroughly and well ahead of time- before you apply for a student visa. The following websites will help you with this:

Department of Foreign Affairs

Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service

Citizens Information Board

International Education media