My Department has for a number of years had in place a set of detailed student visa guidelines. These have been circulated to relevant education institutions and are also available on my Department's website. They are intended to assist frequent and high volume users of the student visa scheme. In general terms, however, the principal criteria applied are that the prospective student must have enrolled in and paid the fees for a full-time course of study in a privately funded course entailing at least 15 hours attendance a week. The prospective student must have sufficient funds to support himself or herself fully during his or her stay in the State and show that he or she will return home at the end of the course of study.
When assessing any application for a visa, including a student visa, the visa officer will consider various matters. These include whether it is reasonable in all the circumstances to conclude that the applicant's stated purpose of visit is his or her true purpose; whether the applicant will fully honour the conditions of the visa and is unlikely to overstay the length of time applied for or to work without a work permit; whether the applicant is in a position to fully support himself or herself while in the State and is unlikely to result in a cost to public funds or resources or whether the applicant is unlikely to breach the common travel area by travelling to the UK or Northern Ireland without an appropriate visa. The visa officer will have regard to the information provided in the application and to such factors as the applicant's ties and general circumstances in his or her country of origin, his or her immigration history and the relative attractiveness and feasibility of his or her remaining in the State.
Credibility is central to the visa determination process. Not surprisingly, inconsistencies or omissions on the face of an application can cause the visa officer to conclude that the above mentioned criteria have not been satisfied. The visa system includes an appeals procedure for dealing with applications which have been refused. When an application for a study visa is refused, it is open to either the applicant or their sponsor to request the reasons for the refusal. An appeal against the refusal can then be submitted to my Department for the attention of the visa appeals officer. Any additional information available should be submitted in support of the appeal. It is open to the college in question to submit appeals against the refusals of the study applications in the above manner and they will be reviewed afresh.