How to apply for an Irish Visa and the Stamp System

By Jacqueline Russe / février 5, 2020
Irish visa
Irish Visas can be quite a complex topic. So, how do you apply for an Irish visa, who needs them and what can you do or not do if you have one?

Obtaining an Irish visa can be quite a complicated process, depending on where you come from and what kind of visa you need. There are many different options to think about, whether you are staying just a short period of time or for longer. It also makes a difference if you are coming to Ireland to travel or for work. 

Who needs a visa to enter Ireland?

People from certain countries need a valid Irish entry visa before entering the state. An Irish visa is a certificate that is placed on your passport or travel document to indicate that you are allowed to enter the state. You will still be subject to immigration control at the point of entry into the state, even if you have a visa.

You do not need a visa to enter Ireland if you are a citizen of the EEA or some other specific countries: you can check if citizens of your country require a visa to enter Ireland on the website of the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS). The list of countries whose citizens do not require a visa to enter Ireland is defined in the EU Free Movement Directive (2004).

There is always certain documentation required if you apply for a visa. If any of this documentation is missing, your application will be refused. The documents must be in English. If any document is in another language you need to provide a notarised translation and the original.

  • You must complete all sections of the application form.
  • You must sign the form yourself, with exception of children under 18 in which case the parent(s) may sign
  • If a child (under 18) is travelling alone, both parents or guardians must have given their consent. If the child is travelling with one parent, the consent of the other parent is required. If only one parent has total custody and access rights, you need to provide official evidence of this.
  • You must have a passport which is valid for at least 6 months after the date you propose to leave Ireland.
  • You must prove that you can support yourself for the duration of your stay. A detailed bank statement, covering the 6 months before you apply for the visa and showing sufficient funds is required.
  • You must also give details of any previous applications that you have made for a visa to enter Ireland.

Types of visa

If you want to visit Ireland for a short period (less than 3 months), for example, to pursue a short course of studies or for business meetings, then you can apply for a short stay ‘C’ visa for either single or multiple entries. The maximum time spent in Ireland under a short stay visa is 90 days. If you enter the state on this visa, you cannot extend your stay in the country. You must leave and reapply from outside Ireland if you want to return.

If you wish to remain in Ireland for more than 3 months, for example to pursue a course of study, for work or to live permanently in Ireland, then you can apply for a long stay ‘D’ visa for a single entry. If you are granted it and wish to stay in the state longer than 90 days, you need to register and and if you want to stay longer than the period of leave granted to you by an Immigration Officer, you need to obtain a residence permit.

Re-entry visas

The first visa issued to you is valid for a single entry. If you wish to leave the country for a short period of time, you may need to apply for a re-entry visa. This includes travel to Northern Ireland. If you have a valid Irish Residence Permit (IRP) or GNIB card, you will not need a re-entry visa. At the moment, non-EEA nationals under 16 cannot get an IRP therefore they need re-entry visas, which will be issued free of charge.

Visa fees

The visa fee is an administration fee, which covers the cost of processing your application. This fee is not refundable, even when your application is refused or withdrawn. Standard fees for visas are:

  • single entry €60
  • multiple entries €100
  • Transit €25

Some applicants are exempt from paying the visa fee, for example, if you are a family member of an Irish citizen or if you benefit from the Free Movement Directive.

How to apply

If you want to apply for an Irish visa, you can go to one of seven International INIS Visa Offices around the world or go to the nearest Irish embassy or consulate, who will be happy to help you. You can also apply for a visa online and you can find comprehensive guides for the online application process on the INIS website. Apply at least eight weeks before your planned arrival in Ireland, since the application process can take some time. You can find the current processing times on the website as well. 

What are stamps? 

If your application is successful, an immigration officer will put a stamp on your passport, which usually happens when you visit a registration office. There are several types of stamps, indicating different types of permission, including the:

  • Activities you can – and cannot do – in Ireland
  • Time period you are allowed to stay

You must be familiar with your stamp and the conditions that apply to it. If you break these conditions, you may have to leave the country. In general, if you wish to stay in Ireland past the expiry date of your immigration permission, you must apply to renew your permission and registration before they expire.

Stamp 0

Stamp 0 indicates permission to stay in Ireland for a temporary period, subject to conditions. You must be fully financially self-sufficient. You cannot receive any benefits or use publicly funded services and you must have private medical insurance. Do not work or engage in any business, trade or profession unless specified in a letter of permission from INIS.

Examples when used

You may be given Stamp 0 if you have permission to:

  • Retire to or live in Ireland as a person of independent means
  • Be a visiting academic at an Irish university or college
  • Live in Ireland as the elderly, dependent relative of a non-EU/EEA or Swiss citizen
  • Extend a short term visit here due to exceptional humanitarian circumstances
  • Work here for an overseas company to carry out a specific task for a limited time
  • etc.
Stamp 1

Stamp 1 indicates permission to work or operate a business in Ireland, subject to conditions. It is usable as residence when applying for citizenship by naturalisation. You must not start a job or enter employment unless you or your employer has obtained an employment permit for you. If you do not have an employment permit you cannot engage in any business, trade or profession unless specified in a letter of permission from INIS.

Examples when used

You may be given Stamp 1 if you have permission to:

  • Work here based on an employment permit
  • Operate a business here
  • Work here based on a Working Holiday Authorisation
  • etc.
Stamp 1A 

Stamp 1A indicates permission in full time, paid accountancy training for a specified period, subject to conditions. You must not engage in any other business, trade or profession unless specified in a letter of permission from INIS.

Examples when used

You may be given Stamp 1A if you have permission to:

  • Study accountancy as a trainee & be employed as a trainee accountant
Stamp 1G
a) graduate student who currently holds a Stamp 2 or 2A permission

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. You can work full time, but are not permitted to operate a business or be self-employed. 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 are the same as for Stamp 2/2A.

Examples when used

You may be given Stamp 1G if you have permission to:

  • Look for work as part of the Third Level Graduate Programme
b) Spouse/partner of a Critical Skills Employment Permit holder or a spouse/partner of Researchers in the State on Hosting Agreements

Stamp 1G will also provide for the change in policy to both visa and non-visa required non-EEA nationals, who are spouses and de facto partners of people who are currently resident here on Stamp 3 conditions, as the family member of a person resident in the state on the basis of a Critical Skills Employment Permit or a Researcher in the State on a Hosting Agreement.

Summary of employment conditions
  • Permitted to work in the State without the requirement to obtain a work permit
  • Not permitted to establish or operate a Business
  • Not permitted to be Self- Employed
  • Renewal of the Stamp 1G registration should be applied for annually, and after 5 years on a Stamp 1G, you may apply for a Stamp 4
  • Periods spent on Stamp 1G are considered as reckonable residence for the purpose of making an application for Citizenship/Naturalisation
Stamp 2

Stamp 2 indicates permission to study a full time course on the official Interim List of Eligible Programmes (ILEP) for a specified period, subject to conditions. You cannot receive any benefits or use publicly funded services unless you have an entitlement via other means. You can work in casual employment for a maximum of 20 hours per week during school term and 40 hours per week during holidays. 

Examples when used

You may be given Stamp 2 if you have permission to study the following:

  • English language
  • Higher national diploma
  • Degree (undergraduate)
  • Master’s degree (postgraduate)
  • PhD
  • etc.
Stamp 2A

Stamp 2A indicates permission for full time study in Ireland for a course that is not on the official ILEP, for a specified period. You cannot receive any benefits or use publicly funded services and you must have private medical insurance. You must not work or engage in any business, trade or profession.

Examples when used

You may be given Stamp 2A in the following circumstances:

  • Semester abroad (i.e. at an Irish university/college)
  • Study at a private secondary school in Ireland
Stamp 3

Stamp 3 indicates permission to stay in Ireland for a specified period, subject to conditions. You cannot work or engage in any business, trade or profession. This stamp is reckonable as residence when applying for citizenship by naturalisation.

Examples when used

You may be given Stamp 3 if you have permission to:

  • Volunteer, e.g. with a charity or non-profit
  • Be a minister of religion
  • Join your non-EEA/EU/Swiss spouse/civil partner or family member who is here based on a work permit
  • etc.
Stamp 4

Stamp 4 indicates permission to stay in Ireland for a specified period, subject to conditions. You can take up employment and are not required to hold an Employment Permit as well as establish a business. You can work in a profession, subject to conditions of the relevant professional or other bodies. You also have access to specific state funds and services. This stamp is reckonable as residence when applying for citizenship by naturalisation.

Examples when used

You may be given Stamp 4 if you have had permission to work in Ireland:

  • With a valid Critical Skills employment permit for 2 years
  • With a valid employment permit for 5 years
  • As a researcher for 2 years

You may be given Stamp 4 if you are granted permission:

  • To join your Irish spouse, civil partner or de-facto partner
  • To join your EU/EEA or Swiss family member based on EU Treaty Rights
  • To join a family member who has immigration permission based on EU Treaty Rights
  • To join your family member who is a recognised refugee or has been granted subsidiary protection or if you are a refugee yourself
  • To remain with your child who is an Irish citizen
  • Under the Investor and Entrepreneur Programme (including spouse/partner & family)
  • For Long Term Residence
Stamp 5

Stamp 5 indicates permission to stay in Ireland without limits on the time you can remain here, subject to other conditions. Stamp 5 is reckonable as residence when applying for citizenship by naturalisation. This stamp will be valid up to the expiry date on your passport.

Examples when used

You may be given Stamp 5 if you have permission to:

  • Remain in Ireland ‘Without condition as to time’ (WCATT)
Stamp 6

Stamp 6 indicates you are an Irish citizen with dual-citizenship.

Examples when used

You may be given Stamp 6 in your non-Irish passport if you have applied for permission to:

  • Remain in Ireland ‘Without condition’
About the author

Jacqueline Russe

Jacqueline is a German journalist and editor for Babylon Radio who likes comics, manga and video games. She is a state-certified translator for both English and German, currently working on her Bachelor's in Technical Translation.

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