NEW IMMIGRATION REGIME FOR FULL TIME NON-EEA STUDENTS

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1 NEW IMMIGRATION REGIME FOR FULL TIME NON-EEA STUDENTS Notice regarding Full Time Accountancy Courses which prepare Full Time non-eea Students to sit Professional Accounting Exams July 2011

2 Introduction Since the introduction of the new regime for full time non-eea Students on 1 January 2011 a number of questions have been raised by colleges and students regarding the status, vis-à-vis the internationalisation register, of certain types of programme leading to awards made by professional accounting bodies. The following note sets out the arrangements for these programmes with regard to the Internationalisation Register. Accounting Qualifications Whilst the New Immigration Regime for Full Time Non-EEA Students made reference to the matter of professional accountancy qualifications it did not deal with this issue in a comprehensive way. However, since publication of the new regime the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service has received several queries on the matter. In addition some practices have come to light that would suggest a need for some clarification and tightening of the current rules in this area. In the first instance, it is important to state that there are two immigration permissions with regard to those pursuing professional accountancy in Ireland. In the first instance the Stamp 1A or professional accountancy trainees do not fall under the terms of the New Immigration Regime for Full Time Non-EEA students. Therefore the interim arrangements set out in this document will not apply to Stamp 1A. Accountancy Qualifications and Stamp 2 Immigration Permission Since the introduction of the new immigration regime for full time non-eea students it has come to the attention of the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service that many students and colleges wish to pursue and offer full time preparatory accountancy programmes It is therefore necessary to clarify the position with regard to such programmes in the context of the operation of the new fulltime non-eea Student Regime. This is essential in particular for those students who are contemplating enrolling in courses of this nature in the belief that they are regarded as degree programmes and as such will permit them to remain in Ireland for up to 7 years on the same basis as those engaged in higher education at bachelor s level and above. Some students have already enrolled on this basis. Clarification is also necessary for institutions to ensure that they can answer student queries and also plan their programmes. In that regard, it has been agreed that such programmes may remain on the internationalisation register and that some interim arrangements will be put in place. As such they will be classified as Full Time Preparatory Accountancy Programmes and will be subject to the interim arrangements set out hereunder until 1 January Students will be permitted to study on these courses in accordance with the interim arrangements set out below.

3 Interim Arrangements for Timed Out Students Recognising that some students have already paid fees and are already enrolled on full time accountancy courses which prepare students to sit accountancy exams set by professional accountancy bodies, the following interim arrangements will apply Students, who meet the criteria as set in Note 1 below and who wish to enrol on a full-time preparatory accountancy programme for professional accountancy exams and whose registration expires up to and including 31 August 2011 may register until 28 February 2012 ; Students must sit exams at each exam sitting as set out by the professional accountancy bodies during that period. No extra time will be permitted for repeat exams; Students who avail of this special registration to 28 February 2012 to undertake a full time preparatory accountancy programme for professional accountancy exams will not be eligible for the special Timed Out six month concession, which allows as a special concession Timed Out Students to apply for a work permit/green card from within the State and to work for 40hrs per week for the duration of the six months; Students are responsible for completing as many exams as possible within this period. From 1 January 2012 new arrangements will apply. This registration period will only be renewable in accordance with the new rules which will apply from 1 January There will be no extension to this period for students who are timed out under the new regime. From 1 January 2012 full time preparatory accountancy programmes which prepare students for professional accountancy exams, will be classified as language and non degree programmes where they are not aligned with NFQ Level 7 or higher and where there is a full time work experience component to the qualification which cannot be satisfied by the student work concession. Such courses will be subject to the same conditions as Language and Non Degree Programmes. NOTE: (1) The interim arrangements as set out above will apply to Timed Out Students who will not breach the 7 year overall time limit for non-eea Students in Ireland, if they enrol for one further year. Students whose permission to be in Ireland will exceed the 7 year overall time limit if they enrol for one further year will not be allowed to avail of these interim arrangements. Students whose permission already exceeds the 7 year overall time limit for non- EEA Students will not be allowed to avail of these interim arrangements.

4 Status of Full Time Preparatory Accountancy Programmes from 1 January 2012 In order to facilitate students attending programmes leading to the awards described above, and colleges delivering these programmes, these programmes will be included on the internationalisation register. Such courses will be subject to the following additional rules From 1 January 2012 non-eea students will only be permitted to enrol on fulltime preparatory accountancy programmes to prepare for professional accountancy exams at approved study providers which are recognised at a sufficient standard by the relevant professional accountancy bodies. Study visas will not be issued to students wishing to attend any other college offering similar courses from 1 January From 1 January 2012 any study provider who has their recognition as an approved study provider withdrawn by any professional accountancy body, will be removed from the internationalisation register and will not be permitted to enrol any further non-eea Students. Providers who lose their approved study status from an accountancy body and who subsequently regain such status will not be readmitted to the internationalisation register until they have successfully maintained that status for a period of 1 year. Accountancy bodies are required to agree with the immigration authorities (INIS) and the National Qualifications Authority of Ireland on a listing of approved study providers who satisfy the requirements set out above. This will facilitate the maintenance of the Internationalisation Register. Where providers lose their approved status then the accountancy bodies are required to inform the immigration authorities and NQAI of this immediately. From 1 January 2012 students who are attending full time preparatory accountancy programmes to prepare for professional accountancy exams which fall into the non-professional category (for example fundamental level) will be categorised as Language and Non Degree Students and will be subject to the same conditions for such awards. Where a student has progressed to the Professional Level exams such students will be regarded as Degree Programme students. Such students will have to demonstrate that they have completed all the Fundamental papers or have received a full exemption from the professional accountancy body for those exams. It is not permissible for students who come to Ireland to enrol in such programmes for longer than 3 years. These programmes must be listed on the Internationalisation Register

5 Sitting of Exams and Academic Progress It is a requirement that students enrolled on a full-time preparatory accountancy programme for professional accountancy exams on Stamp 2 sit a number of exams and that they make academic progress for each year they are training in Ireland. Therefore from 1 January 2012 all students enrolled on a full-time preparatory accountancy programme for professional accountancy exams on Stamp 2 student permission will be required to sit a minimum of four exam papers per year pass at least two exams per year. Students pursuing professional accountancy exams on a full time basis must manage their studies in accordance with the time limits set out for Full Time Non-EEA Students and as set out above. Where students fail to meet the requirements with regard to the sitting of exams and academic progress their student permission my not be renewed. Accounting Technicians Non-EEA students training as an Accountant Technician will only be permitted to do so on Stamp 2 permission. All Accounting Technician courses will be treated as Language and Non-Degree Programme and will be subject to the rules set out for that category. In that regard, the new time limits for full time non-eea students as set out in the recently published review document will apply to accounting technician students. In this regard accounting technician students can study in Ireland for a maximum of 3 years. Student Review Office July, 2011

6 Appendix 1 The rules set out in this document will apply to the following accountancy bodies in Ireland ACCA AIA CIMA CIPFA CPA IATI ICAEW ICAI ICAS ICPAI IIPA Association of Chartered Certified Accountants Association of International Accountants Chartered Institute of Management Accountants Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy Certified Public Accountants Accounting Technicians Ireland Institute of Chartered Accountants in England & Wales Institute of Chartered Accountants in Ireland Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland Institute of Certified Public Accountants in Ireland Institute of Incorporated Public Accountants With regard to Accounting Technician courses all bodies offering such courses are subject to the rules set out above for such courses.

7 Appendix 2 Approved Study Providers 1. Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) Any provider who has been awarded Gold or Platinum Status by the ACCA. 2. Association of International Accountants No approved Study Providers in Ireland 3. Chartered Institute of Management Accountants Quality partner course providers 4. Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy No approved Study providers in Ireland 5. Certified Public Accountants Goldstar Approved Educator Status 6. Institute of Chartered Accountants in England & Wales No approved study providers in Ireland 7. Institute of Chartered Accountants in Ireland Courses are run by Institute of Chartered Accountants in Ireland 8. Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland No approved study providers in Ireland 9. Institute of Certified Public Accountants in Ireland See Certified Public Accountants 10. Institute of Incorporated Public Accountants No approved study providers in Ireland The position of Accounting Technicians is set out above. Accounting technician students will be treated as non-degree students as set out above.

8 Appendix 3 Definition of Degree and Non-Degree Programmes In dealing with this issue it is useful to re-state the definition of Degree Programme and Non-Degree Programme as outlined under New Immigration Regime for Full Time Non-EEA Students which was approved by government and published on 22 September With Effect from 1 January 2011 (R1) Student Immigration will in the future operate on a differentiated basis. The student regime will be divided into two categories. The Degree Programme will apply to students enrolled in a nationally accredited higher education programme at National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ) level 7 or above. The Language and Non Degree Programme will consist of students engaged in English language courses or academic courses below Level 7 in the National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ) with NFQ Level 5 being the minimum level of study allowable. In that regard Degree programme courses are defined as courses which lead to an award of o Ordinary Bachelor Degree o Honours Bachelor Degree o Higher Diploma (after completion of an Honours Bachelor Degree) o Postgraduate Diploma (after completion of an Honours Bachelor Degree) o Masters Degree o Doctoral degree The award as set out above must be made by one of the following types of awarding body: A recognised Irish awarding body i.e. o Dublin Institute of Technology o Higher Education and Training Awards Council o Institutes of Technology with delegated authority to make awards o Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland o Universities o Other bodies that have statutory powers under Irish law to make awards Certain awards offered by international universities which satisfy the above definition will also be regarded as Degree Programme courses. See document Internationalisation Register New Arrangements to Apply from 01 January 2011, section 1 A (ii) and (iii) for further information (available at

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