All About That GNIB Card

All non-EU people living in Ireland know how infamous the registration in GNIB is. Basically, one need to queue outside the buidling at 6~7 A.M. (and there's some people get there at 3 A.M.), then get a ticket when its door finally opens. In a peak season like recently, tickets run out at as early as 8:40 A.M.. Once you get the ticket, you'll need to wait for hours to be called to sumbit your documents, then wait for another hours to get your passport back along with a new GNIB card. The whole process generally takes one day, literally one day.

It's not over, you can't re-enter this country with just your GNIB card. You have to apply for a re-entry visa, which may be single-journey or multiple. Again, wait outside the buildling to get a ticket for re-entry visa application and spend half a day there (the visa office closes at 2 P.M. so you can't spend a whole day).

I don't know why on earth we need a GNIB card, even after living here for a year. A GNIB card is not a valid identity card, as stated on the card. But this non-ID card costs you 300 euro per year and is mandatory for any person staying in Ireland for long term (more than 90 days). Besides, you can't re-enter this country just by this card like UK's BRP. Maybe I'm not smart enough like Irish government staffs to understand the wisdom and find the hidden usages behind this card.

Anyway, it's inevitable to deal with this thing. I'm going to sum up some experiences I have, which should be useful for non-EU students staying in Republic of Ireland.

Freshers

As far as I know, colleges like TCD and UCD will organise group visits to GNIB. Please join a group visit so that you don't need to get up at 5 and get frozen in the early morning just for a ticket. Although it still takes hours to finish the registration, but at least slightly more comfortable.

The documents you need are:

  • A letter from the college/university noting your course and the start/end date
  • Recent bank statements
  • Medical insurance receipt
  • Your travel document (passport)

Graduates

Graduated students may avail Thrid Level Graduate Scheme to extend the residence permit. Check the PDF file for details.

After the Course but Not Graduated, yet

There are, however, people like me that get in between. Course is already finished, but the final results are not out yet. Unfortunately, the expiry of GNIB card (and re-entry visa) is at hand. And one can only avail Thrid Level Graduate Scheme if he/she entered Ireland using a study visa. Therefore, a natural solution is to extend current stamp until graduation when Thrid Level Graduate Scheme can be availed.

It is totally doable. The documents required for this are:

  • A letter from your school (better signed by your co-ordinator or the headmaster) noting that you've finished the course but need a few weeks/months waiting for final results
  • Recent bank statements
  • Medical insurance receipt
  • Your travel document (passport)

It's free to get your passport stamped for you to just stay in Ireland. But it costs 200 euro to get a new GNIB card, which is not worthy for just a few weeks/months. You can't apply for a re-entry visa if you don't have a extended GNIB card, because the re-entry visa is issued in accordance with the GNIB card.

I was upset by this policy because some mates got their GNIB cards and re-entry visas valid until 31 October (or even 30 November). In that way, they probably don't need to extend their GNIB cards. By contrast, my GNIB card is only valid until 30 September, and I have to pay 200 more euro (not including the new re-entry visa fee), comparing to those lucky people, to get my GNIB card valid for one or two more months. After then, I shall pay for a new GNIB card again if I avail Thrid Level Graduate Scheme. All these could happen totally due to the inconsistency of GNIB officers and this inconsiderate policy. What hurts me more is a friend of my friends got her GNIB card extended for free. I really don't know how more inconsistent a bureau could be.

Don't get me wrong though. Ireland is definitely a nice and welcoming country. Even in the GNIB, working staffs are friendly and polite. It just could've been nicer towards non-EU people who study and work here.

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