Britain welcomes students from abroad but has very stringent immigration laws. If you arrive without the correct documents you are likely to be denied entry by an immigration office. It is therefore important that you begin your preparations for studying in the UK well in advance.
It is very important for anyone entering the UK as a student to comply with UK immigration requirements. The regulations for entry into the UK are constantly changing and it is vital that you check UK visas and the Home Office Border Agency (UKBA) websites on a regular basis. For further details please check the following links:
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Since 1 September 2007 ALL students need a student entry clearance to entry the UK to study, except those on a course of study of six months or less who may qualify for entry under the category of student visitor. For further details please check the following link:
An online visa application is also available at the Visa4UK website. Detailed guidelines on how to apply can be found at the following link: www.visa4uk.fco.gov.uk
NOTE: Before you apply, please check the Supported Countries page where you can find out if the country you are applying from accepts on-line applications. In order to access this facility, you will also need your own E-Mail address.
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Students from the countries listed below who have been accepted on a course of study are entitled to enter the UK freely, upon production of a valid passport or national identity card, and have the right of residence for the duration of their course. In addition, they should have sufficient resources for the duration of their stay without claiming public funds (benefits).
Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Republic of Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom.
Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway are EEA member states, but they are not members of the European Union (EU).
Switzerland is not a member of the EU or the EEA. However since 1 June 2002, Swiss nationals have similar entry rights which are similar to those of nationals of EEA countries. The information in this area of the website applies to both EEA and Swiss nationals.
NOTE: If you have permanent residence in, but not citizenship of, any of these countries, you are not an EEA national.
For further information and complete guidance please check the UKCISA website at the following link:
For immigration purposes, students from non-EEA countries are split into two categories: 'Visa Nationals' (those which require a visa to enter the UK) and 'non-visa nationals' (those which don't require a visa to enter the U.K.), but in most cases need to apply for entry clearance to enter the U.K. If you are unsure whether or not you are a visa national, you need to contact your nearest British Embassy or High Commission, the British Council, or the UK Visa website at www.ukvisas.gov.uk
If you are coming to the UK as a student you must get entry clearance before travelling. Application on how to apply for a student visa is available in the INF5 student guidance note and can be downloaded from www.ukvisas.gov.uk/en/howtoapply/infs/inf5students
Alternatively, you can obtain application form at the nearest British Mission in your country of residence. A full list of British diplomatic missions is available on the following link: www.ukvisas.gov.uk/en/howtoapply/wheretoapply/
The UK Border Agency delivers visa services working in partnership with VFS Global and WorldBridge service application centres in any countries. An online visa application facility is also available on the UKvisas website at www.visa4uk.fco.gov.uk
There are different requirements depending on whether you are a visa national or ‘Specified National’. To find out which applies to you see the lists of countries on the above categories on the UKCISA website at:
If you are a visa national it is compulsory for you to apply for entry clearance (a 'visa') before you leave the country where you live to travel to the UK. You must obtain a student visa only. Please note that if you obtain a visa in any other capacity (except for as a prospective student) eg. visitor, it will not be possible to change this to a student visa without returning to your country and making another application.
A visa national seeking leave to enter the UK as a student must:
1. have been accepted for a course of study which is to be provided by an organisation which is registered with the Department for Children, Schools and Families, and is either:
For lists of Training and Education Providers participating under the Point-Based systems, please visit the UK Border Agency: Register of Sponsors website.
2. the course must be either:
3. must be able and intends to follow the course; and
4. intend to leave the UK at the end of his/her studies; and
5. does not intend to engage in business or take employment, except part-time or vacation work undertaken with the consent of the Secretary of State for Employment; and
6. is able to meet the costs of his/her course and accommodation and the maintenance of himself and any dependants without taking employment or engaging in business of having recourse to public funds.
If you are a specified national, the Home Office, in conjunction with the rest of the European Union, have introduced new procedures for entry clearance for nationals from countries that do not need visas to travel to the UK, but plan to stay for more than 6 months. The requirement to obtain entry clearance for longer stays was introduced on 13 November 2003.
It is therefore compulsory for all nationals of the countries listed above who will be studying for a period of more than six months, to obtain entry clearance before they travel to the UK.
Also note that new charges was introduced beginning 1 April 2005 - £250 for students for posted applications and £500 for personal applications at one of the Public Enquiry Offices.
As a result of these changes we strongly advise all non-EEA students who do not need a visa to travel to the UK to apply for Entry Clearance before leaving home. If you do not do this, on arrival in the UK you will only be issued with six months leave to remain as a visitor and will need to extend this which, if done from within the UK will incur the charge. An Entry Clearance costs £36 and you are much more likely to be issued with leave to remain for the whole time of your course, including graduation.
For specified national seeking leave to enter the UK as a student the following information applies:
If you want to come to the UK for a maximum of 6 months, you can choose whether to make your immigration application before you travel to the UK (this is called applying for 'entry clearance'), or when you land in the UK. There are number of advantages in having entry clearance:
It is expensive to change the amount of time, or conditions about work, given to you by an Immigration Officer at the port. By contrast, if an Entry Clearance Officer makes a mistake about the amount of time, or conditions about work, that he or she gives you, then you can ask him or her to change them without having to pay a fee.
There are also some disadvantages:
Short-term students (those coming to the UK for six months or less) are advised to apply for entry clearance, whether or not you are a visa national. Without entry you will be issued a 6 month visitor's visa that you will be prohibited from working during your stay. In addition you will have no right to appeal should you be refused entry to the UK. In addition to this, Short-term students should take particular care to insist that they be granted entry clearance as student and not visitors. Remember that if you are not planning to travel to the UK immediately after the visa is issued, you may ask for the visa to come into effect up to three months after its date of issue.
Applications for entry clearance should be made through the British Embassy or High Commission in the country in which you are living.
An online visa application is also available and detailed guidelines can be found on VISA4UK website at: www.visa4uk.fco.gov.uk .
Please note: Before you apply, please check the Supported Countries page where you can find out if the country you are applying from accepts on-line applications. In order to access this facility, you will also need your own E-Mail address.
You should apply in good time in order to avoid missing the start of your course. You will need the following:
Please note that the production of the above documents does not guarantee that you will be granted entry clearance. You may be asked to provide other documents, and you may be asked to attend an interview in person. If you do experience any difficulties obtaining entry clearance in your home country, contact us for assistance as soon as possible.
If you are granted entry clearance, you will still have to pass through UK immigration control on arrival, and you should therefore carry the documents listed above, along with your valid passport, in your hand luggage, whether you have entry clearance or not.
For more detailed information and advice on completing your application form please visit the UK visas and Home Office Border Agency (UKBA) websites:
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