A Tourist to a Student: 3 Dont’s and 1 Tip!

You could be like me, spending around three months in Ireland as a tourist and found that, “Hey, it’ll be pretty cool to study here!” Yes, that’s how I ended up writing this blog to tell you what you shouldn’t try doing, and more importantly, what you can do to become a student!

Serious note, this is only going to be helpful for non-European tourists like me. If you’re European, this article will not apply.

The biggest challenge I faced when I had the idea to study my Masters here, was the VISA. Since my initial intention to visit Ireland was as a tourist, the stamp that I received at the Irish Custom was strictly for three months. Like it or not, I would need to leave the state before the expiration date.

Here’s what I tried and I hope you DON’T repeat what I did:

1) Don’t Extend your Visitor Permission

When I first looked into my options, I started by extending my duration of stay as a visitor. The initial idea was to extend as long as possible so that I could work on all the applications needed to get enrolled into the University.

Let’s be honest guys, this is NOT going to solve the root problem, because the “extension” itself is merely extending your status as a tourist!

Let me tell you in advance, if you do not have a solid reason to stay, your application will be rejected. That’s what happened to me. I applied with the reason of continuing my study here as a Masters student, but I was rejected even though I already attached a Letter of Enrolment together with a School Fees Payment Statement in the application. Simply put, this reason is not good enough to get an extension. So, unless you have better reasons to try, just avoid this option.

2) Don’t Apply for De Facto Partner of an Irish or Non-EEA National

I’m lucky enough that my girlfriend is a Stamp 4 resident here in Ireland. If you are the same, then this application could be part of your options. This status as a De Facto Partner is slightly different because a successful applicant is going to be eligible to work or study in Ireland.

Let me make this short, I tried to apply for this, but I gave up in the end. There were just too many additional documents to prepare. You just need to know that, in average, application to receive De Facto Partner status is going to take at least three to six months. That is if you don’t face any issues in the process of the application, and they do accept hard copy via mail only.

3) Don’t Try your Luck and Make an Appointment with Local Immigration Office

Guess what? My permission to stay in Ireland expired while I tried out all my options! But I had the thought of, “Things will go well when the officer sees my letter from the university and financial status.” Good faith, don’t you think? Hahahahaha… yeah, this didn’t work out too.

Due to a long queue, an immigration appointment would usually take three months. Plus, I emailed most of the officers that I know, either from the Department of Justice or local Immigration office, I got the same answer: “Leave the state and return as a student.”

But hey, let’s not focus on all the grumpy bad news. I succeeded anyway and I’m now a student in University of Limerick! Here’s a good tip for you:

Tip: Leave the state, but make it NEAR and CHEAP

Yes, you’ve seen it right, I left Ireland in the end. But good news is, I returned as a student within A Day!

When you’re in Ireland, there’s one country that is so close to you, England. What I did was I went to London for a day trip and then returned to Ireland, with all the documents needed for a student.

Day trips to London are super fun, plus it helps you to re-renter Ireland as a student, so why not?!

When I got my stamp at the Irish Immigration Custom, I realized that the stamp given to a tourist and a student is significantly different. You can see from the photos below, the left is the tourist stamp, the right is the student stamp.

Now I know why wouldn’t the local immigration office of any cities be able to help much. It’s not their fault, there are just rules that we need to play along.

Anyway, I hope this is going to be helpful for you. I had a tough time, but I hope you don’t.
I’ll see you in UL!

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