624. Deputy Rose Conway-Walsh asked the Minister for Justice if English language students are required to sign-up and pay for a 25-week language course in order to access the visa extension until 20 September 2021 regardless of whether they will be able to attend the full duration of the course or not; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [23730/21]
Minister of State at the Department of Justice (Deputy James Browne): My Department recognises the difficulties that Covid-19 has had on everyone in the country, including our international student population. From the outset of the pandemic, we have worked to provide assistance and assurance to people who use our immigration services.
Since the pandemic was declared in March 2020, immigration permissions have been extended, on seven occasions, most recently until 20 September 2021. The extension of permissions also covers English language students who have already availed of the maximum three permissions (three permissions of 8 months each), allowing them to renew for a fourth permission until 20 September 2021.
Students must enrol on a 25-week programme as soon as their third permission expires and to register that permission. This currently will allow them to remain in the State until 20 September 2021, however, each case will be assessed on its individual merits and a pragmatic approach will be adopted.
Students applying for a second or third permission may renew for up 8 months provided they enrol in a 25-week English language programme.
The same terms and conditions that applied to their previous courses will apply to the student’s new course.