Every year thousands of Indian students apply for a student visa to Ireland seeking higher education in the country.
In the past few years, Ireland has emerged as one of the most sought-after education destinations for Indian students and a top study destination of the world. It has competed with traditional markets like the USA, the UK, Australia, and Canada.
In the post-pandemic era, like any other country, the student visa process for Ireland has also seen some major changes. On the surface, this could have led to confusion or the fear of rejection in minds of prospective students.
However, while the Irish visa process may look complicated, once you understand the process it is very logical. Planning well ahead and keeping documents ready becomes key.
Type of visa
Usually, students need to apply for a long-term Type D visa. Before the pandemic, students had to apply for a single-entry visa to register at their respective institutions.
Once registered, the students could apply for an Irish Residence Permit (IRP) for the duration of the course which would have then converted their visa to multiple entries. Given the uncertainty that Covid-19 brought when students travelled back before applying for the IRP, the visa office has now started to issue multiple entry visas.
However, as the world returns to normalcy there is a fair chance that the visa office may switch back to issuing single-entry visas.
Timeline is very important while applying for an Irish visa. Students need to be aware of the fact that any application that reaches the Ireland visa office less than 3 weeks from the course start date (not the late start date) will be “refused”.
The key word is the application “reaching” the visa office and not the submission of the application. The submissions happen at the VFS post, which takes almost 2-3 days for the application to reach the visa office.
Since India is one of the biggest markets for outbound education, the number of visa applications received every year is in the thousands! The visa office takes up to 6 weeks during peak period to process any application so the students should plan keeping the above timeline in mind.
Another factor which influences the weightage of any visa application heavily is the payment of the tuition fee.
The students must have paid at least 50 per cent of the total tuition fee, notwithstanding any scholarship received, or at least a minimum of € 6,000 unless the total tuition fee is less than € 6,000.
For example, if the tuition fee is € 20,000 and the student receives a scholarship of € 5,000, the student must pay € 10,000 before applying for the visa.
However, if the full fee is € 10,000 then the student must pay € 6,000. But if the total tuition fee is € 10,000 and the student has a 50 per cent scholarship then the student will need to pay only € 5,000, in this exceptional case.
Just like any other education destination, Ireland also requires proof of financial stability before considering any student’s application for a visa.
The visa office’s role is to ensure that the candidates applying for the visa have enough money to pay for their expenses so that they don’t burden the state. They wish to also judge the financial worthiness not just to pay the fee but rather the ability to do so without putting the family or sponsor at financial peril.
If someone is overstretching themselves then there exists a chance that the money may suddenly be required elsewhere, and the student may fall short of funding. In such cases, either the student could become dependent on the state or even skip college and start working illegally.
Ideally, the student needs to demonstrate the availability of funds equivalent to the total tuition fee and a minimum €10,000 for living expenses. While applying for Universities in cities such as Dublin, it is suggested to cover a minimum of €12,000. These funds can be in the form of a student’s savings, education loan, from a sponsor or a combination of these. Only the money in liquid form/assets is acceptable – money in a savings account, fixed deposits (that have no lien marked against them) that can be encashed on demand, the withdrawable value of PF/PPF, surrender value of LIC and equivalent.
Please keep in mind that cash in hand, investments in gold or silver, shares, and mutual funds are not accepted, and neither is money invested in chit funds and other private savings. Fixed assets irrespective of the value of the property or the number of properties owned are also not acceptable. These can be used to demonstrate financial stability but not as funds to pay for expenses.
Using a financial sponsor
A sponsor is someone who is willingly ready to pay for your expenses in Ireland. A spouse, parent or siblings make for logical sponsors as they can be expected to pay for your expenses. In such a case, it is important to have them write a letter explaining their reasons to do so and the extent to which they will sponsor the student’s expenses. Extended family or friends are not barred from sponsoring, but the applicant must prove that they would indeed be paying for his or her expenses.
Many students make the mistake of assuming that sponsors just need to demonstrate their funds for a visa, but the visa office is judging the applicant’s ability to pay and not how much money they can show. So only those sponsors who would genuinely be paying for the student’s expenses and have reasons to do so would qualify.
When availing an education loan, anyone who acts as a co-borrower or a guarantor to the loan is also considered a sponsor. So, all documentation of a sponsor must be complete and valid.
The visa office requires an explanation of how the education loan would be repaid. Most of the time, students assume that they would repay the loan after finding a job, but the visa office wishes to know if the sponsors and the student could repay the loan even in a scenario where they do not find that job.
The visa office evaluates not just the access but also the ownership of funds.
The difference is that in ownership, one needs to prove that the funds belong to the said sponsor, while in the case of access, one needs to hold the funds for a specified period. So, any lumpsum lodgements need to be explained with proof that the money indeed belongs to the sponsor.
It is highly recommended that the applicants include a cover letter explaining his or her rationale behind their decision to study a particular course (elucidating on both the course and why Ireland). An optimal approach to this process is to think of this document as a conversation with the visa office to explain and highlight one’s candidature.
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Anything that they would like to clarify must be included. This also lays grounds for justifying any unexplained gaps in education or work histories, change in career path, financial worthiness, previous refusals, if applicable.
The student must include all documentation that confirms the study and work history onwards from class 10th, including 10th and 12th mark sheets, college mark sheets and degree certificate (provisional where the degree has not been released), work experience documentation (appointment letter, relieving letter, salary slips, etc).
Also, the students need to include documentation of health insurance coverage for one year from the intended date of entry into Ireland – both Indian insurers and Irish insurers are accepted. A Police Clearance Certificate (PCC) that can be obtained from the passport office must also be submitted.
In compliance with all the above, the documentation is deemed complete and could be considered for further processing and granting of an Irish Student Visa.
Courtesy : The Indian Express