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Ireland Immigration

Ireland is a popular immigration destination given its thriving economy, rich culture, welcoming citizens and spectacular natural beauty.

If you are a South African national aspiring to immigrate to Ireland, you will require a visa to enter the country. To know more about how to immigrate to Ireland, whether you are eligible, how you can apply, and to receive bespoke advice from a team of immigration law experts, reach out to one of our legal advisers today on +353 061 518 025, or contact us online.

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    Immigrating to Ireland from South Africa

    Various study and job opportunities, low unemployment rates, high-quality education at a comparatively lower cost, low crime rates, welcoming citizens, rich culture and history, and an abundance of natural beauty are some of the major factors behind attracting immigrants to Ireland.

    Apart from work or study, many foreign nationals immigrate to Ireland for other reasons also, such as to visit or join family members, to set up a business, and so on.

    EEA (includes EU countries, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein) and Swiss nationals can travel to Ireland and remain in the country for up to 90 days (or six months if looking for a job) without a visa. They are eligible to even work and study in Ireland without a permit.

    South African nationals do not require a visa to travel to Ireland, although other immigration procedures will apply. However, if you are seeking to enter the country to work, study, join family or invest in business, you will need to obtain a visa.

    The type of visa you need to apply for will depend on your reason for travel as well as the length of your visit.

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    Short Term Irish Work Visas

    South African nationals immigrating to Ireland to work must have a valid employment permit or immigration permission. There are various permissions available depending on (a) the duration of your employment and (b) your employment type.

    If you are coming to work in Ireland for a short term, i.e. for less than 90 days, you have the below options to choose from depending on your eligibility and requirements. All short stay visas are called ‘C’ visas, and are subject to the fulfilment of additional conditions specified by the Department of Justice.

    • Atypical Working Scheme (AWS) – The AWS allows non-EEA and non-Swiss foreign nationals to work in Ireland in positions that are not covered by other employment rules. The Department of Justice and the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment (DETE) developed this scheme to facilitate specialised, highly-skilled employment of a short-term nature not supported by current Employment Permit legislation
    • Company transfer within EEA or Switzerland – If you are already lawfully residing and working in any of the EEA countries or Switzerland, you may be allowed to work on a temporary basis in Ireland for your current employer. In such cases, you need an employment visa called a Van der Elst visa, and do not need to obtain a work permit
    • Short stay business visa – You can travel to Ireland for up to 90 days for business purposes or for work that lasts up to 14 consecutive days on a short stay business visa
    • Unpaid internship – If your college or university studies require you to complete an internship in Ireland, you may apply for an unpaid internship visa, which is valid for less than 90 days
    • Performance or Tournament visa – You can come to Ireland for up to 90 days to stage a performance or to take part in a competitive tournament on a short stay performance or tournament visa
    • Join ship visa – A join ship visa allows a non-EEA and non-Swiss foreign national to come to the country as a seafarer to join a ship that is departing from Ireland
    • Training visa – To attend a training course in Ireland for work or for professional development for up to 90 days, you will need to apply for a short stay training visa
    • Conference or Event visa – A short stay conference/event visa allows non-EEA and non-Swiss foreign nationals to travel to Ireland for up to 90 days to attend a conference, symposium or any other events
    • Exam visa – A short stay exam visa allows non-EEA and non-Swiss foreign nationals to travel to the country for up to 90 days to sit an exam necessary for their current employment or course of study.

    Long Term Irish Work Visas

    If South African nationals intend to come to work in Ireland for a longer term, they must have a contract of employment and must apply for the relevant work permission to the Department of Justice, the DETE, or the Department of Foreign Affairs.

    Once the permission is granted, they need to apply for a long stay ‘D’ visa before travelling to Ireland.

    Below are the long-term work visa options to choose from depending on your eligibility and requirements. All visas are subject to the fulfilment of additional conditions specified by the Department of Justice.

    • Critical Skill – If you have any of the critical skills mentioned on the DETE’s Critical Skills Occupations List, then you or your Irish employer can apply for a critical skills employment permit. Once your permit has been granted by the DETE, you must apply for a work visa
    • General Work – If you are a general worker your Irish employer can apply for an employment permit to the DETE. Once your permit has been granted, you must apply for a work visa
    • Intra Company Transfer – If your employer is transferring your work temporarily to Ireland, you may be allowed to come to the country and work
    • Internship – You will need to obtain an Internship employment permit issued by the DETE to do a paid internship in Ireland for more than 90 days. Once your permit has been granted, you must apply for an internship visa
    • Scientific Researcher on a Hosting Agreement – An Employment (Scientific Researcher) visa allows a non-EEA and non-Swiss foreign national to travel to Ireland as a Scientific Researcher on a Hosting Agreement for a period of between three months to five years, to carry out a research project with an accredited research institution
    • Atypical Working Scheme (AWS) – Work for a duration of greater than 90 days is permitted under the AWS only for non-EEA crew members in the Irish fishing fleet, doctors providing locum services in the hospital, and nurses seeking Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland registration on the basis of overseas qualification
    • Visiting Academic – The Department of Justice may permit a visiting academic or researcher to work in the country for no longer than 12 months. Such individuals must be paid from outside Ireland
    • Volunteer – If you intend to travel to Ireland to work in a volunteering role with an eligible organisation for up to two years (with an option to extend for a third year), you will need preclearance approval before travel
    • Minister of Religion – If you intend to travel to Ireland to work as a Minister of Religion with an eligible religious body or faith community for up to three years (with a possible three-year extension), you will need preclearance approval before you travel.

    Study Visa

    Similar to the work visa, South African nationals immigrating to Ireland to study will need to choose from various study visa options depending on the duration of their course of study.

    Coming to Ireland for Study for Less Than 90 Days – ‘C’ visa

    If your course will take less than 90 days to complete, you can apply for a short stay ‘C’ visa which allows entry to Ireland for both tourism and short-term study purposes. However, you will not be allowed to work (paid or unpaid) in Ireland nor use any publicly funded services in the country (including public hospitals).

    A ‘C’ visa application must be made from South Africa. Requests to make a ‘C’ visa application from any other country where the applicant is not a legal resident will not be accepted.

    Coming to Ireland for Study for More Than 90 Days – ‘D’ visas

    If your intended course of study will require you to stay in Ireland for more than 90 days, you must apply for a long stay ‘D’ visa.

    A long-term study visa can be applied for up to three months before your date of travel to Ireland. If you are visiting any other country before travelling to Ireland, you must have the relevant visa for that country in your passport before applying for an Irish visa.

    Please ensure you have thoroughly read and understood the Irish government’s policy document for non-EEA nationals, the ‘New Immigration Regime for Full Time Non-EEA Students’, before applying for a study visa.

    Please consider speaking with an immigration advisor if you seek more clarity with regard to this policy. To connect with our team of expert immigration advisers, please call us on +353 061 518 025 today.

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      Join Family in Ireland

      If you are a South African national who wishes to come to Ireland to reside for more than three months with a family member in the country, you will need to apply for the relevant permission based on your personal circumstances. Please see the available options below.

      • If your family member residing in Ireland is an Irish citizen, you can apply for a long stay (join family) visa
      • If your family member residing in Ireland is a UK national, you will need to apply through a preclearance scheme
      • If your family member residing in Ireland is an EU citizen, you can apply for a ‘Residence Card of a Family Member of a Union Citizen’ (also referred to as an EU Treaty Rights application)
      • If your family member residing in Ireland is a non-EEA or non-Swiss national who is lawfully resident in Ireland, you can apply for a long stay (join family) visa
      • Certain family members of an international protection beneficiary residing in Ireland can obtain an immigration permission under the International Protection Act 2015

      Investor Visa

      South African nationals who are interested in starting their own businesses in Ireland, can take the investor visa route to immigrate to Ireland.

      In 2012, the Irish Government launched two programmes – the Immigrant Investor Programme (IIP) and the Start-up Entrepreneur Programme (STEP) – to encourage high net worth investors and business professionals from outside the EEA and Switzerland to invest in the country, and in return acquire a secure residency status in Ireland.

      The Irish government has closed the IIP with effect from close of business on 15 February 2023. The STEP is, however, still available for non-EEA and non-Swiss nationals (except for Russian or Belarusian citizens) if they would like to set up a business in Ireland and to work in the said business on a full-time basis.

      The STEP permit holders are not permitted to be employed in any other capacity, and they must not become a financial burden on the Irish State. Once the permission is granted, the applicant must apply for a ‘D’ visa.

      Retirement Visa

      Financially independent, high net worth individuals may be able to retire to Ireland provided they meet all specified conditions. Such individuals will not be entitled to any government benefits otherwise provided to Irish citizens and permanent residents.

      To retire in Ireland, you should have an individual income of €50,000 per year, and access to a considerable sum of money to cover any sudden major expenses. This amount should be equal to the price of a residential house in Ireland.

      Such proof of funds must be certified by an Irish accountancy firm having required expertise to understand the format of overseas banking/accountancy documentation.

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      Eligibility and Documentation Requirements for Ireland Immigration

      The eligibility criteria for immigrating to Ireland will depend on your reason to travel to the country, and your chosen visa option thereof. Similarly, the requirement for supporting documents will vary based on your chosen immigration route.

      We’ve provided below a list of documents that are generally required for Irish immigration. However, please note that the immigration officer may ask for other relevant documents depending on your specific immigration circumstances.

      • Application summary form (from AVATS online application facility) and declaration, which you must print, sign and date
      • Application Letter (signed and dated) with your full contact details, visa application number, all details of your family members in Ireland/in the UK/in any EEA member state, the reason for your proposed trip to Ireland, and a commitment from you that you will obey the conditions of your visa in full, not rely on public services while in Ireland and leave the country before your immigration permission expires
      • Proof of fee payment/fee exemption
      • A current and valid passport with an expiry date that is at least six months after the intended date of the applicant’s departure from Ireland
      • Previous passports, if any
      • Previous visas, if any, including rejected visas
      • Proof that the applicant intends to leave Ireland at the end of their valid visa or to make arrangements to apply for a new visa before the expiration of their current document
      • Proof of sufficient funds/ financial stability to support self and any dependent family members (e.g. spouse, children)
      • Biometrics (where required)
      • Two standard size passport photographs in Irish immigration authorities’ prescribed format
      • Other information that supports your reason for travel, such as work permits, acceptance letters, marriage certificate, etc.
      • Proof of travel/medical insurance
      • Travel itinerary
      • Proof of accommodation

      We are here to guide you through the process of successfully obtaining your Ireland visa. Contact us

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        How to Apply for Ireland Immigration

        Once you have confirmed your eligibility for your chosen immigration route, please start the visa application with filling up the online form. Please ensure you have all your supporting documentation ready for submission prior to giving your details online.

        To apply for an Irish visa, you need to:

        • Complete the online application form online
        • Generate the application summary form and declaration at the end of the online application. You need to print, sign and date this application summary form and declaration
        • Arrange your supporting documentation
        • Submit your application, passport and supporting documents for processing to the Irish embassy in Pretoria
        • Check the website of the Embassy of Ireland, South Africa for further information on how to submit your application for processing

        Processing Time

        Irish visa processing time may vary from country to country. It may also vary depending on the type of visa you are applying for.

        The embassy will contact you once a decision regarding your visa application has been made. If you have applied directly to an Irish Immigration Service visa office, or if your application has been referred to the Irish Immigration Service for a decision, you can check the Irish Immigration Service Visa Decision Weekly Listing using your case reference number.

        If the embassy or the Irish Immigration Service gets back to you requesting more details or additional/missing documents, please reply as soon as you can to avoid further delay in your visa processing or a possible rejection.

        Fees

        Visa fees and costs will vary depending on your chosen immigration route. If you’ve chosen the STEP route, it will cost you a different fee, for example.

        You may have to pay the following types of fees to immigrate to Ireland:

        • Non-refundable visa processing fee (€60 for single entry, €100 for multi-entry, and €25 for transit)
        • €300 Residence permit fee
        • Fee for biometric information
        • Fees for certified translated copies made of original required documents

        Registering Your Ireland Immigration Permission

        If you are travelling to Ireland on a ‘D’ visa, you need to apply for an immigration permission, and then register it, once it is granted, within 90 days to apply for your Irish Residence Permit (IRP) card.

        Registration is the process for the Irish immigration authorities to record how you have been given permission to stay in Ireland. Once you have successfully registered, you will receive your IRP card by post which will contain the information on the type of permission you have received.

        If you need a professional lawyer to fill in your forms and make sure all requirements are met, reach out to us today. Contact us

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          How Can IAS Help?

          Immigrating to Ireland can be a fairly time-consuming process and one which will require your utmost diligence. Even if you meet the eligibility criteria, it is of utmost importance to fill up the relevant forms correctly and completely as well as submit all required documentation, to avoid a possible visa refusal or rejection.

          IAS can help.

          Our team of sympathetic immigration lawyers have the required expertise to assist you, regardless of your personal circumstances or the complexity of your case.

          If you are seeking overall advice with your Irish immigration plan or you would like an immigration expert to complete your visa application on your behalf, we are here for you. We also offer document and application checking services if you just need a final check to confirm that your documents and application adhere to the Irish Immigration Service’s regulations.

          To know more about the services we provide and how we can help you, please call us on +353 061 518 025 today to speak to our team of legal advisers. Or reach out to us online.

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            With our Application Package, your dedicated caseworker will advise you on your application process and eligibility. Your legal advisor will then complete and submit your forms to the Home Office on your behalf.

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                By choosing our Appeal Package, you can rely on our lawyers’ legal knowledge and experience to ensure you have the highest chance of a successful appeal. We will also fully represent you in any hearings/tribunals.

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                    Frequently Asked Questions

                    South African nationals do not require a visa to travel to Ireland. Ireland tourist visa, where the period of stay is typically 90 days or less, is free for South African citizens.

                    However, other immigration procedures will apply including submitting required documents to the Irish Immigration Officer. Such documents may include:

                    • Original passport or travel document issued by concerned South African authorities, which is valid for at least six months on the date of travel with at least two visa pages clear of any markings
                    • Travel itinerary (reservation to and from South Africa in your name)
                    • Proof of sufficient funds to cover your stay in Ireland
                    • Proof of health insurance that covers the duration of your intended stay
                    • Details of your accommodation in Ireland
                    • Invitations or letters that explain the purpose of your visit (where applicable)

                    If your Irish immigration visa application is refused, you will receive a letter from the visa office stating the reason why it has been refused and if you can appeal the decision.

                    Please note that all visa appeals are handled directly by the Irish Immigration Service. There is no fee. However, your appeal must reach the visa office within two months from the date on the letter of refusal.

                    If your appeal is late, the original visa decision cannot be changed. However, you may submit and pay for a new visa application if you wish.

                    If you submitted false or misleading information with your original application, you will not be allowed to appeal a visa decision and may be blocked from applying for an Irish visa for up to five years. The letter of refusal will state if this applies to you.

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