In September 2014, the Ministers for Education and Skills and for Justice and Equality announced changes to the work concessions for Immigration Stamp 2 holding non–EEA students, along with other reforms to the regulatory regime for international education. These changes came into effect on the 1st of January 2015.
Prior to these reforms; non-EEA students were permitted to work up to 20 hours per week during the college term and up to 40 hours during vacation periods. As these periods are set by the college itself, there have been severe variations between work entitlements of non-EEA students and as such, these entitlements have come under scrutiny. Due to the reforms put into effect by the Ministers for Education and Skills and for Justice and Equality, the working permissions have been standardised and is no longer reliant on the term and vacation periods set by the individual institution. Students holding a valid immigration stamp 2 are now permitted to work 40 hours per week for a 4 month period, which starts from the 1st of May until the 31st of August and also from the 15th of December to the 15th of January. At any times outside these dates, they will only be permitted to work 20 hours per week. The hours specified are the maximum that the student can work at any given week, even those whom have more than 1 employer. Employing a student beyond these permitted hours will be an offence under the Employment Permits Acts.
However, students who achieve an honours degree or higher are entitled to a 12 month extension to their stamp 2 visa and are permitted to work up to 40 hours per week during this time. Students who achieve an ordinary level degree are entitled to a 6 month extension. Students hoping to apply for this graduate scheme must have a valid stamp 2 permission and they must also provide a transcript of their final results from the awarding authority. If the extension is granted, the student may work without an employment permit and can be employed on contract, in an internship, or on probation. If employment is offered beyond the duration of the extension, an employment permit will be required.
Students who obtain an extension to their stamp 2 visa as a result of this scheme may engage in any form of employment they desire, although, they are not permitted to engage in self-employment or to work as taxi drivers. Furthermore, it is anticipated that more forms of employment will be added to this list of restricted activities during the course of 2015.
The implementation of these reforms has not been effected by the three week delay announced for the implementation of the new ILEP course list.