Ireland has one of the highest educational involvement rates in the world with almost half (48 percent) of the Irish population having attained at least a college-level education, which is in sharp contrast with the less-than-40 percent level of the other developed countries such as the United Kingdom, United States, Spain, Belgium, and France. Eighty-one percent of Irish students complete secondary school and approximately 60 percent go on to higher education, scoring significantly higher than the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) average in reading literacy and science, says an OECD report. Little wonder then that so many international companies ranging from computers to pharmaceuticals, from financial services to telemarketing consider Ireland, time and again when hiring graduates and making location decisions for entry into the European market.
Whether you want to explore the Irish plains, take advantage of its solid education system or find employment, you will need a visa to enter Ireland. If you wish to visit Ireland for a period of less than 3 months for a holiday or to pursue a short course of studies or on business, then you can apply for a short stay ‘C’ visa – either a single entry or multiple entry visas depending on the duration and frequency of your visit. On the other hand, if you would like to travel to Ireland for more than 3 months to pursue a course of study at an Irish accredited school or institution (above high school), for work or to settle permanently in Ireland with family members who are already resident in Ireland, then you can apply for a long stay ‘D’ visa for a single entry or a purpose appropriate visa, as explained below.
If you are a non-EEA (Eastern European Association) national coming to study in Ireland, you must be enrolled in a full-time course on the Interim List of Eligible Programmes (ILEP). Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) regulations stipulate that students who are from a country outside the EEA, then you must apply for a student visa. A student visa application must include evidence of ready access to a minimum sum of EU 7,000, which is the sum computed for a year of study in Ireland. Apart from this, they must also have a valid admit letter from the Irish University, along with the requisite allied documents as well as proof of medical insurance, if provided by college. Since 1 June 2015, non-EEA nationals can enrol in an eligible course at High School Certificate/Level 6 or above on the National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ). The maximum time they can study in Ireland at this level is 7 years. There are exceptions to this limit for students doing a Ph.D or a course such as medicine and in special circumstances, wherein the student is suffering from ill-health.
Upon graduation, the students receive an extension of their permission to remain in Ireland under the Third Level Graduate Scheme. This scheme allows a non-citizen graduate of an Irish university to find employment and apply for a General Employment Permit or a Critical Skills Employment Permit, as the case may warrant. For example, graduates with a Bachelor’s qualification may get a 12-month extension to their residence permission; up to a maximum of 7 years of student permission overall. Graduates with postgraduate qualifications or above may get a 24-month extension (2 blocks of 12-months) to their permission up to a maximum of 8 years of student permission overall.
In recognition of the potential foreign revenue and generation of employment in local areas, the Irish government have taken strong steps in projecting Ireland as a much preferred educational destination! With its excellent infrastructure, eminent educational credentials and excellent employment opportunities, Ireland is most certainly a study option that students should consider.
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