Study Visa and the Third Level Graduate Programme

Overview of Conditions for Degree Programme Students

This programme allows legally resident non-EEA graduates from approved Irish educational institutions holding an award from a recognised Irish awarding body to remain in Ireland after their studies. This should be for the purpose of seeking graduate level employment and with the intention of applying for either a general employment permit, a critical skills employment permit or a research hosting agreement.

The main conditions of being a Full Time Degree Programme Non EEA student are:

  • The maximum time a student may stay in Ireland for the purpose of attending courses at degree level is limited to seven years;
  • The level of course and award must comply with the conditions below
  • A Letter of Acceptance from the college, confirming you have been accepted and enrolled on a course of full-time day-time education
  • You must have proof that fees have been paid to the college. Where your fees are below €6,000, the full amount of the fees must be paid in advance.
  • You must have access to €3,000 at first registration. This is in addition to your course fees. For ore on Financial requirements please Click Here
  • All students are required to have private medical insurance, either personally or through a group scheme operated by your college, at time of registration in accordance with the conditions set out below regarding private medical insurance. For more information regarding the requirement to hold private medical insurance please Click Here

*Please Note: Visa required students who obtained a study visa to come to Ireland will no longer be obliged to present evidence of finance, on first registration, on the basis that the appropriate checks on finance have already been undertaken as part of the visa application process. Non Visa required students who did not require a visa and who are studying in Ireland can avail of the following options as a means of demonstrating finances (on first registration) of a minimum level of €3000.

Full conditions and requirements are set out in the Guidelines attached below. It is the responsibility of the student to familiarise themselves with these requirements.

What is a Degree Programme?

A Degree Programme refers to full-time day courses leading to major awards as outlined below at or above Level 7 of the National Framework of Qualifications

There are six types of major award available in Ireland at these levels:

  • NFQ Level 7 = Ordinary Bachelor Degree (3 years duration)
  • NFQ Level 8 = Honours Bachelor Degree (3-4 years duration)
  • NFQ Level 8 = Higher Diploma (1 year duration)
  • NFQ Level 9 = Postgraduate Diploma (1 year duration)
  • NFQ Level 9 = Masters Degree (1-2 years duration)
  • NFQ Level 10 = Doctoral Degree (approximately 4 years duration)

Degree programme courses are defined as courses which lead to an award of:

  • Ordinary Bachelor Degree
  • Honours Bachelor Degree
  • Higher Diploma (after completion of an Honours Bachelor Degree)
  • Postgraduate Diploma (after completion of an Honours Bachelor Degree)
  • Masters Degree
  • Doctoral degree

Certain ‘awards’ offered by international universities which satisfy the above definition will also be regarded as Degree Programme courses.

**Please Note : It is not permissible for Students who come to Ireland on a Degree Programme course to enrol in a Non Degree or Language Course (Students may be permitted to undertake a foundation language course, if required, where this has been arranged in advance and has been clearly stated in any application for a visa or permission to remain).

Similarly students who complete a Degree Programme course cannot then enrol on a Language/Non Degree Programme Course.

***Please Note: The primary purpose for a student to be in the State is to study. It is not permissible for a student to come to Ireland to undertake a part-time course, or a distance learning course.

Who can apply for the Third Level Graduate Programme?

The Third Level Graduate Programme is open to any non-EEA national graduate who has completed their studies in Ireland and has been awarded a qualification at Level 8 or above on the National Framework of Qualifications by a recognised Irish awarding body.

In order to qualify graduates:

  1. Must have been notified in writing by the relevant awarding body or institution on or after 1 January 2017 that they have achieved the award for which they enrolled
  2. Must hold a current Stamp 2 student immigration permission and an up-to-date Irish Resident Permit (IRP), and must apply within six months of being notified by the relevant awarding body or institution that they have achieved the award for which they had enrolled as a student.
  3. Must not have exceeded the 7 year limit on their permission as a non-EEA national student in the State.
  4. May, if having previously benefited from the Third Level Graduate Programme at a level 8 award or above, on achievement of a higher level award, e.g. level 9 or above, re-enter the Third Level Graduate Programme, subject to the overall limit of eight years.
  5. A graduate will not be permitted to access the Programme on more than two separate occasions, subject to 4) above.
  6. Must, in line with the obligation on any non-EEA national seeking to renew their permission to be in the State, comply with the laws of the State. Such persons are expected to be of good character and not to have come to the adverse attention of the authorities in any way.
  7. Must present evidence of the final award being attained by way of a parchment or, in circumstances where the graduation ceremony is yet to take place, an official letter for the awarding body / institution confirming that the award has been achieved.

An award granted by a recognised Irish awarding body i.e.

  • The seven Irish universities; i.e. Trinity College, UCD, DCU, Maynooth University, UCC, NUIG and the University of Limerick
  • Dublin Institute of Technology
  • Royal College of Surgeons Ireland
  • Institutes of Technology
  • Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI)

Persons qualifying for graduate immigration permission of up to twelve months

Graduates with an award at level 8 on the National Framework of Qualifications will be granted a period of residence in the State, the lesser of either, twelve months or such period as would bring their overall time resident in the State (i.e. time spent on Stamp 2 as a student and on Stamp 1G under this programme) to seven years in total.

Persons qualifying for graduate immigration permission of up to twenty-four months

Graduates with an award at level 9 or above on the National Framework of Qualifications will be granted a period of residence in the State, the lesser of either, twenty-four months or such period as would bring their overall time resident in the State (i.e. time spent on Stamp 2 as a student and on Stamp 1G under this programme) to eight years in total.

It should be understood that, graduates at level 9 or above on the National Framework of Qualifications who qualify for the Programme will be granted permission for twelve months initially. This will be renewed for a further period of twelve months (subject to the overall eight year limit) where the graduate satisfies the immigration authorities that he or she has taken appropriate steps to access suitable graduate level employment (e.g. attendance at job interviews, signing up with graduate employment agencies, etc.). The immigration authorities, while not strictly applying the lists or thresholds themselves, will have regard to the Highly Skilled Occupations List and Ineligible Occupations List and Employment Permit and Critical Skills Employment Permit salary thresholds of the Department of Jobs Enterprise and Innovation in assessing the efforts of the graduate in securing appropriate graduate level employment.

Stamp 1G

Stamp 1G indicates you have finished your studies in Ireland and have permission to look for employment here under the Third Level Graduate Programme, subject to conditions.

Holders of Stamp 1G are exempt from the requirement to possess an employment permit from the Department of Jobs Enterprise and Innovation.

Summary of employment conditions for graduates:

  • You can work for a maximum of 40 hours per week.
  • If you wish to continue working after Stamp 1G expires, you must find a job that requires an employment permit and then follow the usual application process.
  • While on a Stamp 1G, your other permissions and conditions remain the same as for Stamp 2/2A.

Applying/Registering

Those eligible for the Third Level Graduate Programme will need to make an appointment with an INIS immigration officer where they will be issued a Stamp 1G.

Registering in Dublin

The Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) manage registrations in Dublin and County Dublin. You must register at Burgh Quay Registration Office if you live in Dublin City or County. There can be great demand for appointments. If you can’t book one straightaway, keep trying. New appointments are issued every week (mon-fri) at 10am and 2:30pm. To book an appointment Click Here

Registering outside of Dublin:

If you live outside Dublin City or County, you must register at the local INIS immigration registration office nearest to where you live. Click Here to find your nearest INIS registration office

Documents Required:

Persons presenting to their local INIS registration office seeking a Stamp 1G under the Programme must present evidence that they have achieved the award for which they had previously been enrolled as a student. Acceptable documentation, which may be verified by the immigration authorities, includes a letter of confirmation from the awarding body/institution of the award achieved, or the degree scroll.

Persons eligible to re-register for a further twelve months (or part thereof), in the circumstances as set out above, will be expected to present evidence (e.g. attendance at job interviews, signing up with graduate employment agencies, etc.) that they have been actively seeking graduate level employment during the previous twelve months.