An Irish short-stay visa, also known as a C visa, is granted to foreign nationals who wish to stay in Ireland for less than three months and who are required by Irish law to apply for a visa.
However, something you should be aware of is that an Ireland visa is simply a pre-entry clearance, and it does not necessarily mean that you will also enter the country. It is the Immigration Officers at the Border Control who decide whether to grant you permission to stay in Ireland and for how long.
This means that even if you have received an Ireland short-stay visa, which allows you to travel to Ireland, the Immigration Officer reviewing your case could still decide you don’t meet the requirements to enter and stay in Ireland and you would have to turn back.
If you have an Ireland short-stay visa, you:
- Cannot take up any sort of paid or unpaid employment (except in the case of a Business visa or the Employment visa under the Atypical Working Scheme.)
- Use any institutions funded by the public, as a public hospital.
Who Needs an Ireland Short-Stay Visa?
Not everyone needs to apply for an Ireland short-stay visa.
Ireland is a member of the European Union. So, if you are from another member state of the EU or EEA, or a Swiss national, you can freely travel to Ireland without a visa or asking permission to stay from immigration officers. That’s due to the EU’s freedom of movement.
In addition, several other countries are exempt from Ireland visas, even though they are not in the EU or EEA. If you are from a non-EU/EEA country who is exempt from Ireland visas, you can travel to Ireland visa-free, but you would still have to ask for permission to stay from the immigration officers at Ireland Border Control.
If you are from a non-EU/EEA country who is subject to Ireland visas, you have to both apply for a visa and ask for permission to stay from Border Control.
What are the types of Ireland Short Stay Visas?
Based on the reason why you want to travel to Ireland, you could apply for one of the following Ireland short-stay visas:
- Ireland Tourist visa, which, as the name suggests, is issued to foreign nationals who want to visit Ireland as a tourist.
- Ireland Business visa, available to foreign nationals who have to engage in a business-related, short-term activity in Ireland. Not to be confused with the Ireland Work Visa.
- Ireland Medical treatment visa, available to foreign nationals who have to undergo medical treatment in an Irish medical institution.
- Ireland Stage Performance or Tournament visa, available to performing artists who have to stage a performance or athletes who will take part in a sporting event in Ireland.
- Ireland Employment visa under the Atypical Working Scheme, available to foreign nationals who have permission to work in Ireland for a short-term period.
- Ireland Training visa, available to foreign nationals who will take part in a short-term training in Ireland.
- Ireland Short-Term Internship visa, available to foreign nationals who will become employed in Ireland as a paid intern for a period no longer than three months.
- Ireland Join a Ship visa, available to foreign nationals who will join a ship in Ireland within 24 hours of entering the country.
- Ireland Marriage visa, available to foreign nationals who wish to marry in Ireland and have received an acknowledgment from the Irish Registrar of Civil Marriages.
- Ireland Exam visa, available to foreign nationals who have to travel to Ireland to enter an exam.
The British-Irish Visa Scheme and Ireland Short Stay Visa Waiver Programme
The island of Ireland is divided into two territories: the Republic of Ireland (usually referred to as simply “Ireland”) and Northern Ireland, which is part of the United Kingdom. If you are visa required and travel to Ireland, you will not be allowed to enter Northern Ireland without a UK visa.
However, there is an exception to this through the British-Irish Visa Scheme, but only to a limited group of foreign nationals.
The British-Irish Visa Scheme is a program which allows citizens of India and China who are holders of an Ireland short-stay visa to travel to any territory in the UK without having to apply for a separate short stay UK visa.
The opposite is also true: Indian and Chinese nationals who hold a short stay UK visa can travel to Ireland without the need to apply for an Irish visa.
The Ireland Short Stay Visa Waiver Programme is a program which allows certain foreign nationals who have a valid UK short-stay visa to travel to Ireland without having to apply for an Irish short-stay visa, provided they still have remaining days.
In this case, the agreement is not reciprocal – foreign nationals involved in the program cannot travel to the UK if they are in possession of an Irish short-stay visa.
How to Get an Ireland Short Stay Visa?
You have to apply for an Ireland short stay visa online before submitting the required documents.
The online application for an Ireland short-stay visa is done via AVATS, the Irish Online Application facility. When you start completing the Ireland visa application form, you have to select the type of visa you want to apply for:
- Short Stay or Long Stay; and
- Single Entry or Multiple Entry
You also have to select the purpose of your travel, meaning, the type of Ireland short stay visa you need (see below).
Then, you have to answer the rest of the questions on the application form and then print a summary of it, which you have to submit along with the rest of the required documents within 30 days.
Submitting the documents
The printed summary of the application lets you know where you have to submit your passport, the printed application form, and the rest of the required supporting documents.
In order to receive an Ireland short-stay visa, you have to meet certain requirements. For example:
- You have to prove you will return to your home country after the visit ends (for example, by showing you have ties such as work, family, studies, etc). You must also show a return or onward travel ticket.
- You have to show you have the necessary financial means to afford the trip, or alternatively, that your host in Ireland can support you.
- You have to show you have a place to stay in Ireland.
- You must not have any criminal offenses.
- You must have a clear/suitable immigration or travel history to other countries.
- You must convince the visa officers you are not using Ireland as a means of entering the UK or another EU country illegally.
In order to prove you meet the requirements for an Irish visa, you must have a list of supporting documents.
All the information you provide has to be true. If you give any misleading/untrue information, you could be banned from applying for an Irish visa for five years.
Where should I submit the documents?
There is no predetermined location because it changes based on the country. It could be:
- The Dublin Visa Office
- An International Visa Application Agency
- An Irish Embassy or Consulate in your country
You must gather everything on a strong, large envelope and mail them to the specified address, or submit them in person, as required on the summary form. You may also have to provide your biometric information, so you should inquire about it with the visa application office/center in which you are applying.
What is the Ireland Short-Stay Visa Processing Time?
The Ireland short-stay visa processing time is about eight weeks starting from the date you have submitted your documents. It can change depending on the specific case, whether you have to provide additional documents or the time of year.
If your visa is approved, it will be placed on one of the blank pages of your passport, and the visa application center/office will return it to you. Then, you can use your visa to travel to Ireland, where you have to ask for permission to stay at the Border Control.
You have to show your passport with the visa, your flight ticket, travel itinerary, and copies of any other documents related to your travel that you submitted when you applied for the short stay Irish visa.
An Immigration Officer will review your documents and decide whether you meet the requirements to enter Ireland.
If you are allowed to enter, the Immigration Officer will attach a ‘landing stamp’ on your passport, which states the days you are allowed to stay (up to three months, but it could be less) as well as the reason for your visit (study, tourism, visit).
Ireland Short Stay Visas based on number of entries
Based on how many times you want to enter and leave Ireland, you could apply for one of the following Ireland visas:
- Single-entry Ireland visa. This visa allows you to enter Ireland only once. After you leave, you cannot re-enter, even if you still have remaining days. This is the type of Ireland visa that’s most commonly issued.
- Multiple-entry Ireland visa. This type of visa allows you to enter and leave Ireland as many times as you want, as long as your visa is valid. The multiple-entry visa is normally issued to foreign nationals who have had previous visas or who need to travel frequently for short amounts of time, such as to attend business meetings. So, even if you apply for a multiple-entry visa for Ireland, the visa officers can decide to give you a single-entry visa instead if they think you do not meet the requirements.