The Minister for Justice and Equality, Charlie Flanagan TD, has today announced further measures to assist international students studying English in Ireland who have been impacted upon by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The new measures are as follows:
1) Students who left the State before completion of their studies due to COVID-19 may return and resume their studies and the duration of their absence will not count towards the 2 years maximum period of English language study allowed;
2) Language students with a current, valid permission who are still in the State and who have completed the maximum 2 years permitted as a language student, but due to COVID-19 are unable to return home, may remain as students until the end of the year provided they re-enrol in an online course of study for the remainder of the year.
Announcing these measures, Minister Flanagan reassured those who are worried about their status in the State, saying:
I understand and recognise the difficulties that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on all immigrants, and in particular our international student population. I’m therefore pleased to be able to announce these new measures to support students which I hope will provide some welcome assurance and certainty for the coming months. We will continue to keep the situation under active review as matters evolve in our national response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The requirement to register remains for those students who have completed their maximum two years and wish to take up the option of re-enrolling in an online course of study until the end of the year. These students must re-register once the Registration Offices reopen.
The Department of Justice and Equality have engaged with MEI (Marketing English in Ireland), the representative body for the majority of language schools in Ireland. MEI have confirmed that most colleges are now offering on-line courses, and students should contact their college directly to make any necessary arrangements.
The Minister has previously announced the automatic renewal of immigration permissions due to expire between 20 May 2020 and 20 July by 2 months. For international English Language Students, the extension means that they may continue to work if they wish, but must also re-enrol in an on-line course of study to adhere to the conditions of their permission.
Notes for Editors
· International language students may study for a maximum of two years on a stamp 2 permission which also allows students work in casual employment for a maximum of 20 hours per week during school term and 40 hours per week during holidays.
· On 13 May Minister Flanagan automatically renewed all immigration and international protection (asylum) permissions that are due to expire between 20 May 2020 and 20 July 2020 for 2 months. Renewals are on the same basis as existing permissions and the same conditions will continue to apply. For existing permissions granted under the EU Free Movement Directive (2004/38/EC), the automatic renewal is subject to the requirement that the person is continuing to comply with the requirements of the Directive. For students, this means that they will continue to be able to work if they so wish, but they must also be enrolled in a course of study to adhere to the conditions of their permission.
· The registration office in Burgh Quay in Dublin will remain closed and will only reopen when it is safe to do so, in line with Government’s Roadmap. High-demand public offices make applying social and physical distancing more difficult.
· When the Registration Office reopens, priority will be given to those seeking to register for the first time. Those applicants for first time registration who had previous appointments cancelled will have their appointments rescheduled automatically. Other appointments will be made available exclusively for other first time applicants.
· Immigration Service Delivery is also considering alternative arrangements for the renewal of registrations. Initially, priority will be given to those whose Immigration Residence Permission card has expired. Further updates will be provided on our website, www.inis.gov.ie, once arrangements are in place.