Students (28 June 2007)
What is this leaflet about?
This leaflet explains what you will need to do if you want to travel to the United
Kingdom (UK) to study, and what the Immigration Rules say. It is only a guide
but it aims to answer some common questions.
How do I qualify to travel to the UK as a student?
You must be able to show that you have been accepted on a course of study
at an educational establishment that is on the UK's Department for Education
and Skills (DfES) Register of Education and Training Providers. Contact
details are under 'More advice and information' at the end of this leaflet, or
you can search the register on the DfES website at:
You must be able to show that you are going to follow:
• a recognised full-time degree course, or
• a course run during the week involving at least 15 hours of organised
daytime study each week, or
• a full-time course at an independent fee-paying school.
You must also:
• be able to pay for your course and support yourself and any dependants
in the UK without going into business or getting a job, 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, if your course of
study is below degree level.
If you graduated from a UK university or other educational institution in the
last 12 months with a bachelor's degree (second class honours or above),
master's degree or PhD in certain subjects, you can apply to stay in the UK
and get a job for an extra year after your degree course finishes, without
getting a work permit. For more information, please see the section on
‘Science and engineering graduates’ in our ‘Permit-free employment’ leaflet.
If you successfully complete a degree level course or above, awarded by a
Scottish institution, you may be able to apply to live and work in Scotland for
up to two years after achieving your qualification under the 'Fresh Talent:
Working in Scotland' scheme.
Postgraduate doctors and dentists
For entry to the UK as a postgraduate doctor or dentist, you will need:
• a UK degree in medicine or dentistry
• to have spent at least two years in the UK studying for your medical or
dental degree, and
• a letter from the Postgraduate Dean responsible for your training to
confirm that you have been offered a full-time place on a Foundation
Programme in the UK.
You must also:
• intend to leave the UK after your Foundation Programme, if you have not
been given permission to stay on in another employment or selfemployment
• be able to support yourself and any dependants, and live without needing
help from public funds.
If a government or international sponsorship agency sponsored your studies
at medical or dental school, you need to have the sponsor's permission to
study a Foundation Programme in the UK.
If you are a fully qualified doctor or dentist and you want to get a job or take
higher specialist training, you will need a work permit. You can get more
information about work permits from our ‘Work permits’ leaflet.
If you intend to set up in general practice, you will need to meet the
requirements for entry to the UK as a self-employed person. For more
information see the ‘Setting up in business’ leaflet.
What is a visa?
A visa is a certificate that is put into your passport or travel document by an
Entry Clearance Officer at a British mission overseas. The visa gives you
permission to enter the UK.
If you have a valid UK visa, we will not normally refuse you entry to the UK
unless your circumstances have changed, or you gave false information or did
not tell us important facts when you applied for your visa.
When you arrive in the UK, an Immigration Officer may ask you questions, so
take all relevant documents in your hand luggage.
Do I need a visa to study in the UK?
You will need a visa if you:
• are a visa national
• are stateless (you don't have a nationality)
• hold a non-national travel document, or
• hold a passport issued by an authority that is not recognised in the UK.
If you are not an EEA national and you intend to stay in the UK for more than
six months, you will need to get an entry clearance before you travel. You can
get more information from our website or from your nearest British mission
overseas where there is a visa section.
If you do not need an entry clearance, you will have to satisfy the Immigration
Officer that you qualify for entry when you arrive in the UK. They will then give
you permission to stay in the UK for up to six months. You will not be allowed
to extend your stay in the UK as a student unless you arrived with a student
visa or prospective student visa.
To extend your stay you will need to apply for a residence permit at the
Border and Immigration Agency. (Contact details are under 'More advice and
information' at the end of this leaflet.) The Border and Immigration Agency
will charge a non-refundable fee for any application you make to extend your
stay in the UK.
If you have any doubts about whether you qualify for entry, you should apply
for a visa before you travel to the UK.
How do I apply for a visa?
You can apply in a number of ways, for example by post, by courier, in person
and online. The visa section will tell you about the ways in which you can
Some visa sections will only accept applications made online. To find out if
you can apply for your visa online, please visit www.visa4uk.fco.gov.uk.
If you cannot apply online you will need to fill in a visa application form
(VAF 1 – non-settlement). You can get a form from our website, or from your
nearest British mission overseas where there is a visa section.
You should apply for a student visa in the country of which you are a national
or where you legally live.
In some countries, if you are applying for a visa to stay in the UK for more
than six months, you may need to be tested for active tuberculosis before we
will accept your application. You can find out if you need to be tested by using
the ‘Do I need a UK visa?’ questionnaire on our website, or by contacting your
nearest British mission overseas where there is a visa section.
What are visa application centres?
In some countries, we are working with commercial companies to run visa
application centres (VACs). The VACs are in largely populated areas, making
it easier and more convenient for people to apply for a UK visa. Trained staff
at each VAC deal with all visa enquiries and applications. They collect your
biometric information (see the relevant section of this leaflet) along with the
relevant fees, and provide unbiased, face-to-face advice on the application
process, including whether or not you have included all the necessary
documents. Entry clearance staff at the British mission will then consider your
application and decide whether to issue or refuse your visa. VAC staff have
no say in this decision.
What will I need to make my application?
You will need to make your application online or fill in an application form
(VAF1 – non-settlement).
You will also need the following.
• Your passport or travel document.
• A recent passport-sized (45mm x 35mm), colour photograph of yourself.
This should be:
• taken against a light-coloured background
• clear and of good quality, and not framed or backed
• printed on normal photographic paper, and
• full face and without sunglasses, hat or other head covering unless you
wear this for cultural or religious reasons.
• The visa fee. This cannot be refunded and you must normally pay it in the
local currency of the country where you are applying.
• Supporting documents relevant to your application.
What is ‘biometric’ information?
In some countries currently – and in all countries by April 2008 – you will need
to provide ‘biometric’ information as part of the visa application process. This
biometric information consists of scans of all 10 of your fingers and a full-face
digital photograph. You will have to go to the nearest VAC in person to
provide this biometric information. In those countries where there is no VAC,
you will need to go to the British mission. Your visa applications will not be
processed until you have provided the necessary biometric information. The
finger scans are electronic so staff do not need to use any ink, liquid or
chemicals. You will have your digital photograph taken at the same time and
the whole procedure should take no more than five minutes to complete. You
should make sure that you do not have any decoration (such as henna), or
any cuts or other markings on your fingertips before having your finger scans.
You should also make sure that if you have any cuts and bruises on your
face, they have healed or disappeared before you have your photograph
taken. Digital photographs must be of your full face and you should not wear
sunglasses, a hat or any other head covering (unless you wear it for cultural
or religious reasons).
What supporting documents should I include with my application?
You should include all the documents you can to show that you qualify for
entry to the UK as a student. If you do not, we may refuse your application.
As a guide, you should include:
• any relevant diplomas or educational certificates that you have
• a letter from the university, college or school confirming that you have
been accepted on a course of study in the UK, and a statement of charges
for the course
• evidence of government sponsorship (if appropriate)
• bank statements, payslips or other evidence to show that you can pay for
your stay and your course of studies in the UK, and
• if you are being privately sponsored (for example, by a college in the UK),
a letter from your sponsor giving details of how they will support you during
your studies, and evidence that they can do so.
We will refuse your application if we find that any documents are false.
What will happen when I make my application?
The Entry Clearance Officer will try to make a decision using your application
form and the supporting documents you have provided. If this is not possible,
they will need to interview you.
Please check your visa when you get it. You should make sure that:
• your personal details are correct
• it correctly states the purpose for which you want to come to the UK, and
• it is valid for the date on which you want to travel. (You can ask for it to be
post-dated for up to three months if you do not plan to travel immediately.)
If you think there is anything wrong with your visa, contact the visa section
What are public funds?
Under the Immigration Rules, if you want to travel to the UK you must be able
to support yourself and live without claiming certain benefits. These are:
• income-based Jobseeker's Allowance
• Income Support
• Child Tax Credit
• Working Tax Credit
• a Social Fund payment
• Child Benefit
• Housing Benefit
• Council Tax Benefit
• State Pension Credit
• Attendance Allowance
• Severe Disablement Allowance
• Carer's Allowance
• Disability Living Allowance
• local authority housing, and
• local authority homelessness assistance.
You can find more information about public funds in the Immigration
Directorate Instructions (IDIs) and Immigration Rules on the Border and
Immigration Agency’s website (www.bia.homeoffice.gov.uk).
Can I extend my stay as a student?
If you enter the UK with a student visa or prospective student visa, or if you
want to study on a course at degree level or higher, you can apply to the
Border and Immigration Agency. Their contact details are at the end of this
leaflet. The Border and Immigration Agency will charge you a non-refundable
fee for any application to extend your stay in the UK.
If you do not enter the UK with a student or prospective student visa, you will
not be allowed to extend your stay.
Can I work?
You can take part-time or holiday work, but you must not:
• work for more than 20 hours a week during term time unless your
placement is part of your studies, has been agreed with your educational
institution and leads to a degree or qualification awarded by a nationally
recognised examining body
• do business, be self-employed or provide services as a professional
sportsperson or entertainer, or
• work full-time in a permanent job.
If you are coming to the UK as a student for six months or less, you must ask
the Entry Clearance Officer (or the Immigration Officer if you do not need an
entry clearance) for permission to work.
Can I switch to work permit employment when I am in the UK?
You may be able to switch if:
• you have completed a recognised degree course at either a UK
publicly-funded institution of further or higher education or an approved
private education institution that has satisfactory records of enrolment and
• you hold a valid work permit for employment
• you have been sponsored by a government or agency and you have their
written permission to remain in the UK in a different category, and
• you have not broken immigration law.
Can I bring my husband, wife or civil partner and children with me?
Your husband, wife or civil partner and any of your children under 18 can
come to the UK with you during your studies, as long as you can support them
without needing any help from public funds.
Will my husband, wife or civil partner be allowed to work?
Your husband, wife or civil partner will be allowed to work in the UK if we give
you permission to stay in the country for at least six months.
Can I go to the UK to arrange my studies?
You can travel to the UK as a prospective student for up to six months to
arrange your studies. You will need to show that:
• you intend to enrol on a course of study within six months of arriving in the
• you can pay for your course, support yourself and your dependants, and
live without working or needing any help from public funds, and
• you intend to leave the UK when you finish your studies or when your
permission to stay ends if you do not qualify to stay in the UK as a student.
Note: you should not buy a ticket, or pay all or part of the cost of a study
course if your visa application being delayed or refused would mean that you
lost your money.
When should I apply?
You should apply in good time for your entry clearance so that you are not
delayed in getting into the UK. However, you cannot have your entry
clearance post-dated by more than three months. It can get very busy in visa
sections, especially over the summer when lots of students are applying.
More advice and information
Department for Education and Skills (DfES)
For more information about the DfES and the register of approved education
Write to: Department for Education and Skills
London SW1H 9FN
Phone: (+44) (0) 870 000 2288
You can get more advice about studying in the UK from the following
The Council for International Education provides advice and information to
international students studying or planning to study in the UK, and to their
family, teachers and other advisors:
Write to: UKCOSA
The Council for International Education
9-17 St Albans Place
London N1 0NX
Phone: (+44) (0)20 7107 9922 (1pm to 4pm, Monday to Friday)
The British Council provides information to help international students prepare
for study in the UK.
Write to: The British Council
58 Whitworth Street
Manchester M1 6BB
For more advice and information about visas:
Write to: UKvisas
London SW1A 2AH
Phone: (+44) (0)845 010 5555
Please note that this number may not work from outside the UK. If you are
calling from outside the UK, please contact your nearest British mission where
there is a visa section
Phone: (+44) (0)20 7008 8308 (application forms)
(+44) (0)20 7008 8457 (textphone)
Email: Use the online form at www.ukvisas.gov.uk/enquiries
Border and Immigration Agency
For more advice and information about extending your stay once you are in
Write to: Border and Immigration Agency
Croydon Public Caller Unit
40 Wellesley Road
Croydon CR9 2BY
Phone: (+44) (0)870 606 7766 (general enquiries)
(+44) (0)870 241 0645 (application forms)
Immigration Advisory Service (IAS)
The Immigration Advisory Service is the UK's largest charity providing advice
and representation in asylum, immigration and nationality law. It has offices
right across the UK and abroad, and provides a free service to those who are
eligible. It may also be able to help those who are not eligible. The IAS is a
Write to: Immigration Advisory Service
3rd Floor, County House
190 Great Dover Street
London SE1 4YB
Phone: (+44) (0)20 7967 1200
(+44) (0)20 8814 1559 (duty office open 24 hours a day)
Fax: (+44) (0)20 7403 5875
Revenue & Customs
For advice on bringing personal belongings and goods into the UK:
Write to: HM Revenue & Customs
London SE1 9PY
Phone: (+44) (0)845 010 9000
If you come from a country with a health-care agreement with the UK, or if you
are enrolled on a course for more than six months, you may be able to get
medical treatment on the National Health Service (NHS). Short-term students
who are in the UK for six months or less are not entitled to free medical
treatment, and you will have to pay for any treatment you get. Please make
sure you have enough health insurance for the whole of your stay.
Anyone found smuggling drugs into the UK will face serious penalties. Drug
traffickers may try to bribe travellers. If you are travelling to the UK, avoid any
involvement with drugs.
Travellers to the UK may commit an offence if they produce a false travel
document or passport to the UK immigration authorities for themselves and
their children. People found guilty of this offence face up to two years in prison
or a fine (or both).
In the UK we also have versions of our guidance notes in Braille, on audio
tape and in large print. If you would like any guidance notes in one of these
formats, please contact us.
Write to: UKvisas
London SW1A 2AH
Phone: (+44) (0)20 7008 8308
Email: Use the online form at www.ukvisas.gov.uk/enquiries