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Ireland Student Visa for South Africans

If you’re from South Africa and wish to study in Ireland, you may need to obtain an Ireland Student visa before travelling to Ireland.

IAS has an experienced legal team that is able to assist you at any stage of the Ireland Study visa process. Call us on +353 061 518 025, email us at [email protected] or use our live chat online to get advice about your situation.

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    Study in Ireland from South Africa

    South Africa is considered to be a non-visa-required country. This means that South African citizens don’t need to obtain a visa to study in Ireland.

    However, if you wish to study in Ireland for more than 90 days, you must register with the Garda National Immigration Bureau (GNIB) before the expiry of your permission to enter stamp in your passport. Following this, you will be issued an Ireland residence permit (GNIB card), allowing you to remain in the country.

    If you live in South Africa but have citizenship in another country, you may need to apply for a study visa if that country is on the Irish visa-required list.

    Each visa follows a different process and requires different supporting documents.

    It’s important that obtaining a valid Study visa does not guarantee entry into Ireland at the port of entry. Immigration officers at Border Control may refuse your entry if they believe you have provided misleading or false information.

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    Short Stay ‘C’ Student Visa

    If you are a citizen of a visa-required country and wish to study in Ireland for 90 days or less, you will have to apply for a Short Stay ‘C’ Visit (Study) visa.

    Whilst in Ireland on a Short Stay visa, you will not be able to:

    • Do unpaid or paid work of any kind
    • Use any publicly funded services such as medical care

    If you experience an unforeseen change of circumstances whilst in Ireland, it may be possible to apply for an extension before your permission to stay in the country expires.

    Extensions for changes in circumstances which are not unforeseen or an emergency will not be granted.

    Student in class

    Long Stay ‘D’ Student Visa

    If you wish to visit and study in Ireland for more than 90 days, you should apply for a Long Stay ‘D’ Visit (Study) visa.

    Type of Eligible Study

    You will only be eligible for a Long Stay visa if you have to enrol on an approved study programme.

    Eligible programmes are listed on the Interim List of Eligible Programmes (ILEP) and include:

    • English language programmes which last a minimum of 25 weeks
    • Higher Education programmes which are classified between level 6 and level 10 on the National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ)
    • Professional Awards
    • Foundation programmes

    You should make sure your chosen study programme is on the ILEP before paying the course fees.

    Higher Education & Foundation Programmes

    Students who wish to study on an IELP higher education or foundation programme must:

    • Meet the admission requirements set by the programme provider including the standards for English
    • Make progress on their course and show that you continuously enroll on programmes ranked on a higher level on the NFQ whilst studying in Ireland

    English Language Programmes

    Students who are enrolled on an ILEP English language program are able to register for a Stamp 2 immigration permission for up to 8 months.

    Whilst in Ireland, you must satisfy the following conditions:

    • Be enrolled on a programme which lasts at least 25 weeks
    • Attend classes for a minimum of 15 hours per week
    • Have an attendance rate of at least 85%
    • Complete an end-of-program exam

    Your Stamp 2 permission can be extended for up to an additional 8 months if you enrol on another ILEP 25-week English language programme which is of an increased level in comparison to your initial programme.

    You are able to apply for a maximum number of 3 8-month permissions, allowing you to study for a total of 2 years. If you reach this limit, you can enrol on an ILEP higher education program to continue to study in Ireland.

    If you're a South African citizen with aspirations of studying in Ireland, speak to us for guidance. Contact Us

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      Working on an Ireland Long Stay Student Visa

      To be granted an Ireland Study visa, you must provide evidence showing you have enough funds to support yourself for the duration of your study without relying on casual work.

      If granted Stamp 2 permission, you may work:

      • Up to 20 hours per week whilst studying on your programme
      • Up to 40 hours per week between June to September and from 15th December to 15th January

      Work Placements and Internships

      If you are enrolled on a course that leads to a major award at NFQ Level 7 or above, you are able to undertake an internship or place if this is an integral part of your academic programme.

      Internships and placements may be more than 20 hours per week and you must comply with the following conditions:

      • The completion of your placement must count for ECTS credits and contribute to your final programme award
      • The placement component cannot exceed 50% of the duration of your study programme
      • You are not employed on a self-employed basis
      • Your placement or internship working hours and conditions comply with employment law provisions such as rates of pay

      You may be requested to obtain a letter from your course provider that confirms these conditions are being met and that your placement or internship does not affect the terms and conditions of your Stamp 2 permission.

      Ireland Student Visa Application Process

      You can apply for an Ireland Study visa up to 3 months before the date of your travel to Ireland.

      Your application must be made from the country where you live and applications made from other countries will be refused.

      To apply for a visa, you must first complete the online application process on AVATS to create an Application Form.

      Once you have finished your Application Form, you must print, sign and date it before submitting it with your supporting documents.

      If the immigration officer at Border Control grants you entry at the port of entry, they will stamp your passport, which shows the number of days you may stay in Ireland.

      If you have been granted a Long Stay Study visa, you must register with the Garda National Immigration Bureau (GNIB) before this period expiry to be issued an Ireland residence permit (GNIB card) to allow you to remain in the country.

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      Ireland Student Visa Fees

      The cost of the Irish Student visa depends on whether you apply for a single-entry or multi-entry visa.

      As of August 2023:

      • A single-entry visa costs €60
      • A multi-entry visa costs €100

      Certain family members of Irish Citizens are exempt from these visa fees if they are able to prove their relationship. These family members include:

      • Spouses
      • Widow/widower
      • Children or adopted children under the age of 18 years old

      In addition, ‘qualifying family members’ of EU, EEA or Swiss Citizens may also be exempt from the application fee. Exempt family members include:

      • Spouses
      • Children who are under 21 years old
      • Children of the spouse who are under 21 years old
      • Adopted children
      • Dependent parents
      • The dependent parent of the spouse
      • Other dependent family members in the direct ascending or descending line such as grandparents and grandchildren
      • Other dependent family members of the spouse in the direct ascending or descending line

      This fee cannot be refunded if your application is withdrawn or refused and you may have to pay additional charges in respect of the submission of your supporting documents.

      Student Visa Processing Time

      Applications are dealt with in date order and the processing time is within 8 weeks from the date your application is received by the visa office, embassy or consulate.

      However, this time can vary depending on countries and the volume of applications received. Your application may be delayed if you have not submitted all of the required documents, you have complex personal circumstances or your documents need to be verified.

      The Department of Justice posts the dates of the visa applications they are processing every Tuesday, as well as recent decisions on the Ireland Visa Decision website.

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        Supporting Documents for Student Visa Ireland


        Following the creation of your Application form on the online AVATS system, you must provide supporting documentation.

        These should be original documents and be dated within 4 weeks of your application.

        The documentation you need to provide will depend on your personal circumstances but should include:

        • A signed and dated Application Form
        • The required application fee, if required
        • An Application letter
        • Two colour passport-sized photographs which are no more than 6 months old. You should print your name and visa application reference number clearly on the back of each photograph
        • Your current passport and a full copy of all previous passports. Your current passport should be valid for at least 12 months after your proposed arrival date in Ireland
        • A Letter of Acceptance from your course provider
        • Information about any gaps in your full-time education history including the period of time until your visa application. This should include any employment history, if applicable
        • Confirmation you have paid your study programme fees
        • Evidence to show you meet the academic requirements for your chosen course such as previous exam results or qualifications
        • Evidence to show you have the required level of English or Irish
          • English language certificates must have been issued within 2 years of your proposed study programme start date
          • You can see the current minimum English language standards for Ireland Student visas on the Department of Justice website
          • If your course is taught in Irish, you must show you have the necessary competency. You must also include a written statement from your course provider that explains the way in which they assess your Irish language ability
        • Evidence of funds to support your duration in Ireland without reliance on casual employment or public funds
        • Confirmation of private medical insurance for your duration in Ireland
        • Previous visa refusals for any country, if applicable
        • Summary of finances for study visa application. This form can be found on the Ireland Department of Justice website

        It may be necessary for biometric information to be collected depending on your citizenship. This will take place at the Irish visa application centre (VAC) when you submit your documents.

        Application Letter

        Your letter should be signed and include:

        • Your full name and postal address
        • The reason you want to come to Ireland
        • The dates you plan to arrive and leave
        • Confirmation that you will obey the conditions of your visa, not rely on public services and leave Ireland before the expiration of your Student visa
        • Details of any family members who are currently in Ireland or another EU Member State
        • The reason for your wish to study your chosen course if it does not relate to your educational or employment history.

        Letter of Acceptance

        Your Letter of Acceptance should be from your course provider and include:

        • Confirmation of your acceptance and enrollment in a full-time course which includes a minimum of 15 hours of organised daytime tuition per week
        • Details of the course
        • The amount of fees payable for your course and the amount you have paid
        • Confirmation that your course provider has taken out medical insurance on your behalf, if applicable.

        Evidence of Payment of Fees

        As part of your supporting documentation, you should show that you have paid the fees for your chosen course.

        • If your course fees are less than €6,000, you must pay the full amount before applying for your visa.
        • For course fees which are more than €6,000, you must pay at least €6,000 before applying for your visa.

        Evidence of this payment should be either:

        • A copy of an Electronic Transfer of Funds (ETF) to the course provider’s Irish Bank, showing the name, address and bank details of the course provider and the sender.
        • A valid receipt showing the fees have been lodged to an approved student fee payment service such as Pay to Study (formerly known as International Student Payments Service (ISPS).

        Evidence of Finances

        As of August 2023, for academic courses that are due to begin after 1st July 2023, you must show evidence you have immediate access to a minimum of €10,000 to support you during your first year of study in Ireland.

        You must also show that you and/or your sponsor have ready access to a further minimum of €10,000 per additional year of studies in addition to the associated course fees.

        If you plan to study in Ireland for less than 6 months, you must have access to €700 per month, or €4,200, whichever is the lesser amount.

        To prove you have sufficient funds for your study, you must provide up-to-date bank statements on headed paper showing:

        • Payments in and out of the account for the last 6 months
        • Your name, address, account number and account type
        • A letter from your bank confirming you can withdraw funds from that account if your bank statement is for a deposit or savings account

        If applicable, you should explain any large or irregular lodgements.

        Credit card handwritten entries or details on statements are not accepted.

        Where a sponsor is responsible or co-responsible for your costs, it should be clear that the supporting documents relate to them.

        You must also:

        • List each person sponsoring you, specifying their relationship to you including evidence such as birth or marriage certificate
        • Provide details of the financial support the sponsor intends to provide including confirmation it is available and that they are able to maintain themselves and other family members. Accepted evidence includes a letter from an employer and their last 3 payslips
        • An up-to-date bank statement for each sponsor showing payments in and out of their account over the last 6 months
        • Details of any funding from a government body

        Translated Documents

        Your documents should be in English and Irish.

        If your document is in a different language, you must also supply a full translation which shows:

        • Certification by the translator that it is accurate
        • The date of the translation
        • The translator’s full name and signature
        • The translator’s contact details

        State-issued Official Documents

        If you submit State-issued official documents, such as Birth, Marriage or Death Certificates and they were issued by a State outside of the EEA or Switzerland, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the State in which that document was issued must attest that it is genuine.

        If the document is translated outside of the EEA or Switzerland, the translation must also be attested by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the State in which the translation occurred.

        Official documents issued within the EEA or Switzerland do not need to be attested and do not need to be translated if a multilingual standard form (MSF) is also provided.

        Documents from Businesses

        Letters from a business or organisation should be on official headed paper and include full contact details including:

        • A full postal address
        • The name of your contact and their position in the business
        • A landline telephone number
        • Website
        • An email address, excluding Yahoo or Hotmail.

        Unaccompanied Students under the Age of 18 Years Old

        If you are under the age of 18 and wish to study in Ireland, you must provide extra documentation to support your Irish Study visa application.

        These include:

        • A birth certificate
        • Consent of both parents or legal guardians in a notarized document confirming:
          • Agreement to the child studying in Ireland
          • The school, host family or educational agency is the legal guardian of the child whilst they are in Ireland
        • Copies of the biometric page of the parent’s or guardian’s passports or the national identity cards showing the bearer’s signature
        • A Court Order confirming sole custody of the child if only one parent or guardian has custody
        • The address where the student will stay whilst in Ireland. If at least one parent or guardian is not joining the student in Ireland, you must also include clearance from the Garda Síochána (Irish Police) for the address. This clearance is sought by the course provider.
        • If a parent is joining the child, details of their visa application and a statement confirming they will accompany the student are required.
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        We can navigate you through the Ireland study visa and make the application process as seamless as possible. Contact us

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          How Can IAS Help?

          Applying for an Irish visa can be a complex, lengthy and overwhelming process.

          If you wish to travel from South Africa to Ireland in order to study and would like support in respect of your visa application, IAS can help.

          Whether you’d like advice about your supporting documents or want to know how to extend a study visa, our expert team is able to assist and support you through the visa process.

          Call us on +353 061 518 025, email us at [email protected] or use our live chat online to get advice about your situation today.

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                    Frequently Asked Questions

                    It’s important that you do not include false or misleading information in your Student Visa application.

                    If an immigration officer suspects that you have provided inaccurate information, your application may be refused, you may not be able to appeal the decision and may be prevented from receiving an Irish visa for five years.

                    Original documents such as marriage, birth or death certificates will be returned after examination. However, documents such as bank statements and letters of acceptance will not be returned.

                    If you wish a particular document to be returned, you can provide a list of documents with your application. It is strongly advised that you keep copies of all the documents you provide.

                    You can change your study programme whilst in Ireland if:

                    • You do not change your course within the first year of study
                    • You wish to change to a course that leads to a major award on the same level of the NFQ or a higher NFQ level
                    • You do not wish to transfer to a part-time course

                    If you have been granted a visa from a Degree Programme, you will be unable to change your course to a Non-Degree or Language Course.

                    You must obtain the express written consent of the Minister to transfer your course.

                    Generally, students do not have rights to Family Reunification whilst visiting Ireland on a Student visa.

                    If your family wishes to join you, they must make their own visa application, which will be considered in their own right.

                    There are limited exceptions to this rule which include:

                    • If you are enrolling on a PhD level (NFQ 10) course
                    • If you are participating in an academic program agreed by Ireland and another State and all dependants are well funded in Ireland
                    • You can demonstrate annual private means that allow you to support yourself and your family without reliance on public funds or employment and will pay an immigration levy for any children’s education
                    • Your child is visiting you for a short visit for special circumstances and you can guarantee they will return home.