IRISH immigration authorities have cracked down on a number of English language schools in Dublin.
They have suspended the issuing of visas and residence permissions to non-European Economic Area nationals seeking to enrol as new students with four colleges.
The schools are Eden College on Burgh Quay, Millennium College on Lower Dominic Street, Business & Computer Training Institute on Parnell Square, and the National Media College (formerly New Media College).
It follows "serious allegations" regarding practices in some colleges that offer English language courses to students from outside the EU and three other countries – Iceland, Liechenstein and Norway.
There was no detail about the allegations but a weekend newspaper report questioned practices in a number of English language schools, such as the level of attendance by students.
The action was taken by the Department of Justice's Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) and the Garda National Immigration Bureau.
A notice posted on the INIS website stated suspension was "pending further inquiries into the allegations of irregularities and further action may follow".
The suspension will affect students from South America and Asia who need visas to study in Ireland.
One of the requirements of the visa is that they must attend classes for a minimum number of hours.
Eden College, where former Education Minister Batt O'Keeffe was president and chairman of the board until recently, lost its state accreditation in December for non-compliance with the state standards.
Rezaul Haque, chief executive officer of Millennium College, told the Irish Independent that the college was not guilty of any practices that would warrant suspension of the issuing of visas and residence permissions and he was "confident that everything will be sorted".
Efforts to contact the other three named colleges were not successful.