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Student Visa and Immigration


As with the USA, entry to the UK is getting harder and harder as the government tightens up border controls and there are constant threats of terrorist activities. Tighter procedures impact everyone, but should not deter you if you wish to come to the UK.

On September 1, 2007, new student visa requirements went into effect in the UK. Under the old rules, most students did not need a visa and if you were studying for more than 6 months, you only needed to get entry clearance. Under the new rules, there are two categories of student visa, and many more students than before will need visas. International students that entered the UK prior to September 1 under the old rules will also need to comply with the new rules if they leave and want to return.

Students From Non-EU Countries

Here's a brief overview of the new rules for the Student Visitor Visa (less than 6 months) and the Student Visa/Prior Entry Clearance (greater than 6 months). These rules apply only to students from non-EU countries.

Student Visitor Visa - the Student Visitor Visa is for those that plan a stay of less than 6 months. Under the Student Visitor Visa, a student cannot have paid employment or an internship greater than 2 credit hours, and cannot extend their stay once they have arrived.

Student Visa/Prior Entry Clearance - if you plan to stay in the UK for more than 6 months, if you may extend beyond 6 months, or if you want to work or have an internship greater than 2 credit hours - then you need to apply for a Student Visa/Prior Entry Clearance.

Applying for a Student Visa

You should apply for a Student Visitor Visa, a Student Visa and Prior Entry Clearance before leaving your home country. If you don’t, you risk being turned away at arrival if you do not have all appropriate documents and information.

Generally, to apply for a student visa you will need the following:

  • Be accepted and enrolled in a recognized full-time degree course, or
  • A course run during the week involving at least 15 hours of organized daytime study each week, or
  • A full-time course at an independent fee-paying school

You also have to:

  • Be able to pay for your course and support yourself and any dependants, and live in the UK without working or needing any help from public funds,
  • Be able and intend to follow your chosen course, and
  • Intend to leave the UK when you complete your studies.

Working After Degree Completion

Like the USA, students who complete a degree program in England are allowed to apply for a one year extension to their visa to allow them to gain work experience in the UK, without having to obtain a work permit. Students studying in Scotland are now able to extend their visas and work for two years after completing a degree at a Scottish university, helping to make Scotland a particularly attractive destination for international students.

Students From EU Countries

Students from a country of the European Union (EU) or one of the other listed countries do not need a visa or prior entry clearance. Those countries include:

  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Bulgaria
  • 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

The information contained here is for guidance purposes only and to give you a starting point. We would encourage you to consult either your school or a qualified immigration lawyer in the UK for expert guidance and assistance.

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