At the outset, it should be borne in mind that each visa application is considered on its individual merits, with the onus resting with the applicant to satisfy the visa officer as to why the visa should be granted.
In assessing a visa application, a visa officer takes all relevant factors into consideration depending on the type of visa sought. Information regarding visa application requirements and reasons for refusal can be found on the website of the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (www.inis.gov.ie).
While the nature of individual study visa applications can vary widely, the following examples illustrate typical circumstances which could lead to a determination by a visa officer that the need to undertake the course in this State is neither demonstrated nor warranted:
an applicant has not outlined and/or satisfied the visa officer as to the reasons for undertaking the particular course of study identified in the visa application. There may not have been any clear link made by the applicant to a need to pursue a particular course — be it a change of career, work related studies or progression/advancement to the next stage of study e.g. diploma, degree or masters level.
an applicant has already obtained a higher level of qualification in a particular area than that which the course of study offers; for example, a case where an applicant holds a degree in nursing yet applies to study a FETAC level care-assistant course.
the course in question is readily available in the home country of the applicant and there is no reason for the applicant to travel to Ireland for the purpose of study.
an applicant is from a country where English is commonly spoken but seeks to study English in Ireland rather than in their home country.
A decision to refuse on the basis that the need to undertake a course in this State is not demonstrated or warranted is at the discretion of the visa officer and is a matter of judgement taking into account all the circumstances. However, I believe the availability of this ground for refusal is justified in circumstances such as those outlined in the examples above.
It is important that Study Visas are sought by and granted only to individuals whose primary purpose in coming to Ireland is to study. The Deputy may be aware of the generous facility regarding employment which is afforded to international students to assist with living expenses, i.e., 20 hours work permissible during term time and 40 hours permissible outside of term time. There is however an obligation on my Department to guard against persons seeking a Study Visa when in fact they are essentially economic migrants.
As with all visa regimes worldwide, the central concern is to strike an appropriate balance between protecting the country's vital national interests by maintaining an effective immigration regime, while at the same time not placing unnecessary or unreasonable obstacles in the way of those who intend travelling for legitimate purposes and who are likely to abide by the terms of their visa. Each visa application is decided on its individual merits and every effort is made to achieve this balance.