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English language requirements for study visas

The minimum standards on this page are for visa purposes. The minimum English language standard, for your course, as set down by the college concerned may be different.

The certificate of your English language standard must have been issued within 2 years of the expected start of your course. As an exceptional measure, in response to Covid-19, we will accept certificates within 3 years of the expected start of your course for the 2020/2021 or 2021/2022 academic years.

In addition, to address problems being experienced accessing supervised tests because of Covid-19, we will also accept the results of online tests from the Test Providers.


Current Minimum English language standards

Test Provider

2nd level education* or preparatory English course**

All other courses (not 2nd level and not preparatory English)

Cambridge English Language Assessments (CELA)

Pass in Preliminary English Test

Pass in

  • First Certificate in English
  • Cambridge English: Advanced
  • Cambridge English: Proficiency
  • Business English Certificate (Higher or Vantage)

Duolingo ***



English Test for Academic and Professional Purposes (ETAPP)



International English Language Testing System (IELTS) Academic



Pearson Test of English (PTE) Academic



Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL),
internet based test and internet based test At Home Edition 


TOEFL Revised Paper-Delivered Test 19 22


* 2nd level education courses may only be undertaken in a private, fee-paying school or college.

** If you need to complete a preparatory English course before you start the main course (for example, you want to do a degree course and your English language needs to be improved before you can do the degree course) then the following additional rules apply.


  1. The preparatory English course must not exceed 6 months in duration.
  2. You must submit a detailed study plan with your visa application, including:
    1. the duration and dates of your preparatory English course; and
    2. details and dates of your main course of study.
  3. Fees must be paid in full to the college(s) for both the preparatory English course and the first year of your main course. Evidence of the payments must accompany your visa application.


*** Nominate “Irish visa” as an institute on