International English language students who left Ireland because of the COVID-19 pandemic may return and resume their studies, it has been announced.
The period of their absence from the country during lockdown will not be counted as part of their allocated visa time.
Students are allowed a maximum period of two years for English language study.
Also, language students with a current, valid permission who are still in the State and who have completed the maximum two years permitted as a language student, but who were 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, justice minister Charlie Flanagan said the situation would be kept under active review as matters evolve in the 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.
Marketing English in Ireland, the representative body for the majority of language schools in Ireland, has 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 two 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.
International language students may study for a maximum of two years on a stamp two permission which also allows students to work in casual employment for a maximum of 20 hours per week during school term and 40 hours per week during holidays.
The visa registration office in Burgh Quay in Dublin 2 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.