Study In Britain & Ireland: Visa Info

Study in Britain and Ireland - Visa Information for the UK
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UK Visa Information


Information for Non-Visa Nationals
Information for Visa Nationals

The basic division is between European Economic Area citizens (European Union plus Iceland and Norway), people from other countries who do not need a visa to enter Britain (non-visa nationals), and people from countries who do need a visa before entering Britain (visa nationals).

The Home Office divides the categories as follows:

European Economic Area
If you are a national of a European Union country or are from Norway or Iceland you are free to enter the UK to study, live and work and you do not need a visa. European Union citizens face fierce competition from British students and also have to pay the same tuition fees of up to £1,000 a year depending on financial circumstances. Icelandic and Norwegian students have to pay full fees as international students, but do not need work visas and so can fund their course by working.

Non-visa Nationals:
Non-visa nationals are from countries that donít require a visa to enter Britain, you can arrive with the necessary documentation and be issued the visa when you arrive. You need:

If you are staying for longer than six months, your finances will be inspected much more rigorously. It is advisable to submit your documentation to the British Embassy/High Commission in your own country and get entry clearance (a visa) prior to arrival. Your status can still be challenged but you have the right to lodge an appeal and remain in Britain while your case is heard. If you were intending to be issued with a visa on arrival you could be sent back at your own expense. There are plenty of scare stories around, but this is unlikely to happen in practice unless you have done something that arouses suspicion. This might include travelling back and forth from Britain a number of times over a short period, appearing to have little money, or enrolling at a school with a reputation as a visa factory.

You can bring your partner/husband/ wife or children with you. However, they will require a separate student dependent visa, which they must obtain BEFORE they arrive (even though your own visa can be issued on arrival). To obtain this you will have to show that you can support them out of your own pocket. Remember that it can be very difficult to find accommodation for families and what there is tends to be expensive, so try and make arrangements before you arrive. Most universities can offer family accommodation, but space is limited. Be as organised in your arrangements as possible, as this will make you look more credible in the eyes of immigration officials.

You could also enter Britain as a tourist. In theory non-visa nationals can then apply to have it changed to a student visa without leaving the country as an in-country application. In practice this is not advisable as the immigration department is inherently suspicious of people who change the purpose of their stay while they are in Britain. You may succeed in getting your visa changed this way, but you will get a grilling in the process. Many people come to Britain on a tourist visa, and then look around for a school to enroll in. Be careful, because you could end up being deported if you are thought to have deliberately deceived the immigration department. The best thing to do is to apply for a prospective student visa in your home country. You will need to show that you have the finances to support your course and will be allowed to stay in the UK for a maximum of six months.

Visa Nationals:
Visa nationals need to get a student visa from their nearest British Embassy, Consulate or High Commission before arriving in Britain. In order to get this you will need to show the following:

You will need to get your visa, and bring it along with all the above documentation when you enter Britain, as immigration officials may wish to see on arrival. If you have been given entry clearance in your home country this is usually sufficient. However, your right of entry may be challenged if immigration officials believe that there has been a change of circumstances or you have not disclosed, or have hidden, some relevant information. In this situation, you have the right to remain in Britain while you lodge an appeal.

If you entered the UK as a tourist you will not be able to get your tourist visa changed to a student visa in Britain. You will have to leave the country, and re-apply for a student visa before re-entering.

Additional Regulations for international students (immigration, fees):

Address for the British Council:
Education Information Services
Information Services Management
The British Council
10 Spring Gardens
London SW1A 2BN