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Long Stay ‘D' Visa Ireland

Ireland is a popular destination for many South Africans who wish to spend time abroad. The Long Stay visa is a great way for foreign nationals to work, study, volunteer, and reunite with family for a significant period.

Applying for Long-Stay visas to enter Ireland can be a complicated process. We are here to help. Contact IAS online or call us today on (+353) 061 518 025.

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    What is Long Stay 'D' Visa?

    ‘D’ visas are a subcategory of Irish visa offered to foreign nationals who wish to remain in Ireland for more than 90 days to study, work, or join a family member in Ireland.

    Common types of visas available under the ‘D’ visa category include:

    • Study visas
    • Employment visas
    • Family Reunification visas
    • Volunteer visas
    • Minister of Religion visas.
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    Do I Need a Visa for Ireland to Stay Long-Term?

    Citizens of EU, EEA and Switzerland are exempt from needing to apply for a visa to enter Ireland.

    Certain non-EEA countries are also exempt and do not have to apply for the Long Stay D visa. South Africa is currently listed as a country that doesn’t require a visa for Ireland, therefore South African citizens do not need to apply for a long-stay visa to spend time in Ireland for a significant period.

    However in some circumstances, regardless of nationality, you may be required to apply for preclearance. This is the case for South African nationals.

    How Do I Apply for Preclearance?

    To stay in Ireland, South African nationals must apply for preclearance – i.e. permission to remain only under certain conditions. This is also true for visa-required applications and some other non-visa required nations.

    You need to apply for preclearance as a South African if you wish to travel to Ireland as:

    • As a de facto partner of a Critical Skills Employment Permit holder
    • As a de facto partner of a Hosting Agreement holder
    • As a de facto partner of an Irish citizen
    • As a family member of a UK citizen
    • A Minister of Religion
    • A volunteer.

    First you will need to ensure that you have all relevant documents in order to submit your preclearance application form. These will be similar to what is required for the equivalent relevant visa, but may differ on a case-by-case basis.

    You must then complete the application form online, or you can use a legal advisor to guide you through the process. IAS can help. Contact us today online or call us on (+353) 061 518 025.

    Our team of legal experts can help you obtain an Long stay visa Ireland. Contact Us

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      What is the Study Visa and Am I Eligible?

      The Ireland Study Visa is available to applicants who wish to take a course in an Irish higher educational institution or in a course listed on the Interim List of Eligible Programmes (ILEP) for longer than 3 months. This is the visa you can apply for if you wish to attend an Irish university, for example.

      You may also require medical insurance and be subject to strict financial restrictions, depending on the course you are taking and the educational institution that has offered you a place on the course.

      If you are applying to Study in Ireland for several years, then you will usually need to apply for a Stamp 2 or Stamp 2A, which is the Irish immigration permission system that offers you residence for the duration of your studies.

      To apply for an Ireland student visa, you must:

      • Be enrolled in an Irish educational institution
      • Be enrolled on a full-time course listed on the Interim List of Eligible Programmes
      • Have paid the course fees.

      Employment Visa


      Employment visas and permits are available to foreign nationals who wish to spend time working in Ireland on a longer-term basis for an Irish or EU employer based in Ireland. With an Employment visa, you can work, conduct research, or to complete an internship. The four types of Long Stay ‘D’ employment visas are:

      • General Employment visa
      • Scientific Researcher visa
      • Van der Elst visa
      • Atypical Working scheme.

      You will be required to submit certain documents and evidence depending on the type of employment visa and/or permit you wish to obtain. However, all applicants for the employment visa will be required to submit the following:

      • Your employment contract
      • A letter from your Irish employer that confirms they have offered you a job and salary
      • Your qualifications and work experience
      • Bank statements for the last 6 months.

      General Employment Visa

      The General Employment visa is offered to non-EEA nationals who wish to work in Ireland for longer than 90 days. Usually, in order to obtain the General Employment visa you need to apply for an Employment Permit first from the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment (DETE). The employment permit must be applied for outside of Ireland before you travel by yourself or your employer, unless you are already in Ireland with a valid Irish Residence Permit (IRP) and have a Stamp 1, 1G, 2, 2A or 3 permission.

      In order to be eligible, your job must:

      • Pay at least €30,000 per year (some exceptions apply, such as for some graduates who have been offered a role on the Critical Skills Occupations list, some support roles with specialised language requirements, and some health and care positions)
      • Not be on the list of ineligible occupations
      • Have had a Labour Market Needs Test carried out by the employer
      • Be a position offered by a company with 50% of the workforce being made up of EU citizens (50/50 rule).

      Scientific Research Visa

      The Scientific Research employment visa is available to foreign nationals who wish to travel to Ireland in order to conduct research under a hosting agreement. The institution that is sponsoring you must be accredited under the Hosting Agreement scheme.

      Under the terms of this visa, you are not allowed to undertake additional paid or unpaid work and will not be entitled to state support.

      Van Der Elst Visa

      The Van Der Elst visa is available to citizens of non-EEA countries who have legal employment and residence in another EU state who wish to work temporarily for the same employer that is based in Ireland. Applying for this visa means you do not need to also apply for a work permit.

      In order to be eligible, you must meet the following criteria:

      • You reside lawfully in the EU member state in which the employer is based
      • You are lawfully employed by the EU country-based employer
      • You are on the payroll of the employer
      • You will travel to Ireland to complete work and services on behalf of the employer
      • You are required to be in Ireland for longer than three months but no more than 12 consecutive months.

      Atypical Working Scheme

      The Atypical Working Scheme (AWS) has been developed by the Irish Department of Justice and the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment to support short-term, highly-skilled, specialised employment that is not otherwise applicable to other Irish employment permits. You must apply from outside Ireland.

      Certain employment options are also available under the Atypical Working scheme within the fields pertaining to the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine, the Department of Health, and the Health Services Executive (HSE).

      Circumstances that might make you eligible for the Atypical Working Scheme are where your EU employer requires you to work in Ireland due to:

      • Fulfilling a role in an area where a skill shortage has been identified
      • Providing a high-skill or specialised service to an industry, business or academic institution
      • To take part in a paid internship that is beneficial or integral for graduation for 3rd level students who are studying outside Ireland in approved/accredited academic institutions (this excludes medical and unpaid internships)
      • Being a locum doctor in the hospital or primary care sector (general practice) that is employed and paid by an agency
      • Being part of the clinical adaptation and assessment programme/RCSI examination.

      Get in touch with our expert immigration lawyers to learn how to apply for Long stay visa Ireland. Contact us

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        Employment Permits

        Employment permits are available to foreign nationals who come to Ireland for work purposes. For South African nationals and other non-visa required persons, you may only need to apply for an employment permit and not a visa if you are travelling to Ireland on a long-term basis for work purposes.

        The most common employment permits are:

        • Critical Skills Employment Permit
        • Dependant/Partner/Spouse Employment Permit
        • General Employment Permit.

        Other employment permits available in Ireland are:

        • Contract for Services Employment Permit
        • Exchange Agreement Employment Permit
        • Intra-Company Transfer Employment Permit
        • Internship Employment Permit
        • Reactivation Employment Permit
        • Sport and Cultural Employment Permit.

        What is the Minister of Religion Visa?

        A considerable number of foreign nationals seek visas for Ireland due to its open policy for religious and faith practices. The state therefore offers a specific long term ‘D’ category visa for Ministers of Religion travelling from abroad.

        In order to be eligible for the Minister of Religion visa, you must meet the following requirements:

        • You are coming to Ireland for more than 3 months (90 days or above) – if you are travelling to Ireland for religious purposes but don’t intend to stay longer than 90 days, you should look into the short stay ‘C’ category volunteer visa instead
        • You are a qualified and ordained in your faith community or religious body, or are a professional religious person
        • Are sponsored by a religious body
        • Can provide evidence that you are required for your services by a recognised religious body and will comply with the requirements of the organisation and with the requirements of the visa.

        You must also undertake a vetting process conducted by An Garda Síochána (the Republic of Ireland’s police force), which will confirm your eligibility to work with vulnerable people, children and youth.

        If your visa application for Minister of Religion is successful, you can stay in Ireland initially for one year. Once your visa is ready for renewal, assuming you continue to meet all criteria for remaining in Ireland under the Minister of Religion visa, you will be allowed to stay for up to 3 years working with a religious body or faith community recognised by the Irish state.

        After three years, you are allowed to extend your visa for one year three more times.

        Volunteer Visa

        The Long Stay ‘D’ category Volunteer visa is available to foreign nationals who wish to volunteer in Ireland with a non-profit charity or non-governmental agency listed on the Charities Regulator’s Public Register of Charities. If you are volunteering in the sports sector, you will be required to submit your invitation by a recognised Sports Ireland organisation.

        The long-stay volunteer visa allows you to stay in Ireland to volunteer for up to two years, with an option to stay for up to three years if you meet the eligibility criteria. With the Irish Volunteer visa, you can volunteer within the following industries:

        • Arts, heritage and culture
        • Health support services
        • Religious and faith services
        • Sport and physical education
        • Welfare and work for the community good
        • Youth services.

        You will require a Letter of Sponsorship from the non-profit you intend to work for and must meet the criteria set out by the Department of Justice and Equality.

        Contact our legal team today so they can help you with obtaining a Long stay visa Ireland. Contact Us

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          Family Reunification Visa


          The Family Reunification visa is available to foreign nationals who wish to join an immediate family member who is already residing in Ireland on a long-term basis, or who is an Irish citizen. Generally, this visa is available for immediate family members of the sponsor, such as their partner/spouse/de facto partner, or dependent child. Parents or adult children of the sponsor and other family members may be considered on a case-by-case basis. All family members must apply individually.

          If your family member is not an Irish citizen, then there will be certain requirements that they must fulfil before they can qualify as your sponsor.

          Immediate Family Reunification

          In order to be eligible to apply for family reunification as soon as your family member sponsor moves to Ireland, your sponsor must meet the following requirements:

          • Is an Irish or EEA citizen
          • Is at least one of the following:
            • Critical Skills Employment Permit holder
            • Business Permit holder
            • Investor
            • Entrepreneur
            • Researcher in Ireland under a Hosting Agreement
            • Intra Corporate Transferee
            • Studying a Scholarship Program approved by INIS
            • PhD student
            • Non-Locum doctor in a full time role.

          Family Reunification After 12 Months

          In order to be eligible to apply for family reunification 12 months after your family member sponsor moves to Ireland, your sponsor must meet the following requirements:

          • Is a Minister of Religion (if they are maintained by the church, you are likely eligible for immediate reunification described above)
          • Has another form of Irish employment permit.

          How Much Does it Cost to Apply?

          In general, visa applications for Ireland cost:

          Type Fee
          Single Entry €60
          Multiple Entry €100
          Transit €25

          Preclearance costs a flat rate of €100.

          These prices are subject to change and don’t include additional costs, such as updating or translating documents, any travel that is required to apply or attend an interview where necessary, or additional legal support that you might take.

          For help with applying for a Long stay visa, reach out to one of our lawyers today. Contact Us

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            How Do I Apply for a Long Stay 'D' Visa?


            If you need to apply for a visa, your application must be made online. Ideally you want to apply for the Long Stay ‘D’ visa from outside of Ireland, as it can be difficult to apply for this visa if you are already in state on a temporary ‘C’ visa.

            Visa-required people should get in touch with their local visa office or Irish Embassy to apply for their visa. Applicants who are required to provide their biometric information will have to visit their local Irish Embassy or Irish Visa Application Center. to provide their fingerprints and photograph (please note children under 5 will not be required to provide biometric information).

            Applying for the Long Stay ‘D’ visa is a complicated process, as you need to apply online but may also need to fill out physical forms as well. You also need to be sure that all your documents are valid and that you have everything you need to apply, otherwise the application procedure could be unnecessarily prolonged or you could even be refused your visa. IAS can help. Contact us online today or call us on (+353) 061 518 025.

            Once You Have Been Granted Permission to Stay in Ireland

            Once you have been approved to travel to Ireland, you will receive permission to remain from the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS).

            Once you have entered Ireland, you will need to obtain your Irish Residence Permit (IRP). This must be carried with you at all times.

            How Long Does the Application Process Take?

            The application process for a D category visa varies according to which type of visa you apply for, and whether your application or personal circumstances require you to attend interviews or submit further documentation. Generally, visas are approved in around 4-8 weeks, though could take months or even up to a year – this can be the case for the Family Reunification visa where the sponsor is a non-EEA, non-Irish national. It is therefore essential that you allow plenty of time for your application to be approved before making arrangements to travel to Ireland.

            Allow our team of legal experts to help you with the process of Long stay visa. Contact Us

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              How Can IAS Help?

              Ireland is a popular country for foreign nationals to visit, study, work, and reside. The country offers beautiful landscapes and a rich culture to explore, as well as high standards of living.

              Moving to Ireland for a long-term period can be very stressful, as there are lots of different things to organise, particularly if you are applying to work or study in Ireland. There can be significant amounts of documentation that you need to submit, and you may wonder if your personal circumstances make you eligible for the Long-Stay ‘D’ visa or whether you should be going a different route to moving abroad.

              Moving to Europe from South Africa is a very big step. That’s why IAS is here. We are a team of expert immigration lawyers who can guide you through the entire application process, and advise you on the best course of action to take based on your unique circumstances. We can help you with this big step. Contact us online today or call us on (+353) 061 518 025.

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                        Related pages for your continued reading.


                        No, employment visas are not the same as employment permits. Oftentimes, if you are required to apply for an employment visa, you will also need to apply for the relevant employment permit too, but this depends on the type of visa you apply for.

                        No, South Africa is one of a large number of countries that is exempt from the visa application process. If you live in South Africa permanently but your passport is from a different country, then you will need to check whether you require an Ireland visa, as your country of origin may be a visa-required state.

                        Generally ‘D’ visas have a 365 day validity period, with an option to extend or reapply assuming you still meet the eligibility requirements. In some instances you may be eligible to apply for the Stamp system, which usually helps towards building your Irish reckonable residence, if you intend to live in Ireland permanently and eventually apply for citizenship.