Employment and Education

Employment opportunities

In Ireland, asylum-seekers can apply for a permission to access the labour market under certain conditions. You may be eligible for this permission if you have not yet received a first instance recommendation on your international protection application after 6 months. This applies to applications received on or after 18 January 2021. Before this, you had to have been waiting for 9 months.

This permission will allow you to access employment and self-employment. It will be valid for 12 months for applications received on or after 18 January 2021. A final decision means when you have completed all appeals procedures. Further information on this can be found here.

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Primary and secondary education

All children are required to be educated from the age of 6 to 16 (or until they have completed 3 years of second-level education).

On completing primary education, the students then transfer to post-primary (second-level) education. They join the Junior Cycle of secondary education, which lasts 3 years. At the end of this cycle, students present themselves for the Junior Certificate Examination. Students then continue into the Senior Cycle, which lasts 2 or 3 years and leads to students presenting for the Leaving Certificate Examination.

Children with special educational needs because of a disability get extra support either in their own school or in special schools.

are extra resources in schools for non-English-speaking children. Children may have free access to mother tongue supports.

Adults may have access to English language classes and to adult literacy which are provided by the local Education and Training Board (ETB). The availability and duration of these classes is decided by the local ETB.

Further education

People with refugee status or subsidiary protection, with humanitarian leave to remain or leave to remain as the parents of an Irish-born child can access approved ‘Post-Leaving Cert’ courses. They may also participate in the Vocational Training Opportunities Scheme (VTOS) provided they meet the normal VTOS requirements. You can read more about access to further education courses for non-EU nationals here.

Third-level education

People with refugee status or subsidiary protection and those with humanitarian leave to remain are entitled to free third-level (university or college) education if they have been living in Ireland for 3 years or more. They also may be entitled to third level maintenance grants. Information about their entitlement to free fees is on studentfinance.ie.

Those with leave to remain as parents of an Irish-born child are not entitled to free fees or maintenance grants.

Scholarships and supports

Many third level institutions in Ireland are members of Universities and Colleges of Sanctuary Network. University of Sanctuary Ireland (UoSI) is an initiative to encourage and celebrate the good practice of universities, colleges and institutes welcoming refugees, asylum-seekers and other migrants into their university communities and fostering a culture of welcome and inclusion for all those seeking sanctuary. Many of these institutions offer a range of scholarships and other supports to asylum-seekers and refugees. For more information visit this page.

The Irish Refugee Council manages a small grant scheme which provides financial assistance to people in the protection process to access further education. They also produce an information booklet containing information about higher education in Ireland and the scholarships and opportunities that universities and colleges offer for people in the asylum process. For more information visit this page.

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