Apply for a visa outside the UK or come to the UK as an EU / EEA national
This page provides information on obtaining a Student or a Standard Visitor visa from outside the UK.
We have also added information for EU nationals but would advise that EU students keep a close check on different sources in order to keep up to date. Please see below for further information and check regularly for any updates.
Any student who is a national of a country outside the EEA (European Economic Area) or Switzerland and is coming to the UK for longer than 6 months, must obtain Entry Clearance under the Student Route before travelling to the UK from their home country or the country in which they are normally resident.
A student coming to the UK for a course lasting 6 months or less may have the option to apply for a Standard Visitor visa.
EU Nationals / EEA nationals coming to the UK to study 2020/21
If you will enter the UK to study after the transitional period has ended (from 1st January 2021) and have not previously been living in the UK
You will not be eligible to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme or to come to the UK on your EU passport or EU National ID card. Instead, you will need to apply for a Student Route visa before coming to the UK. You will need a CAS from Admissions to use to make a Student Route visa application.
If you will come to study in the UK for less than 6 months, please see our information for coming to the UK to study on a Standard Visitor visa.
*If you have been living in the UK within the last 6 months but are currently outside the UK please see our pages explaining who is eligible to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme.
On 15 December 2020, the Home Office issued guidance to those who are eligible to apply under the EU Settlement Scheme, but have been impacted by the Coronavirus pandemic. This guidance explains how the Home Office will treat absences due to the Coronavirus and includes the following: "If you are a student who was studying in the UK and are studying outside the UK because of coronavirus, that absence will not cause you to break your continuous qualifying period, where it is for a single period of more than 6 months but not more than 12 months, during your 5-year continuous qualifying period."
Entering the UK
The “Citizen’s Rights – EU Citizens in the UK & UK National in the EU” Policy Paper says it will be possible to use an EU National ID card to enter the UK until 31 December 2020 (and by 2021 for Swiss citizens). However you should bring your valid EU passport to use to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme.
The Statement of Changes issued on 24 October 2019 states if you do not have the correct documents at the UK border, you will no longer be given an automatic opportunity to produce the required documents or to establish a right of admission to the UK by other means during 2020.
Whilst there is no requirement for Irish nationals to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme you may wish to do if you would prefer to have a record of your right to stay in the UK. It can can also be useful to have documents showing your immigration status under the EU Settlement Scheme if you have family members who will apply to the Home Office for leave and who are not EU, EEA or Swiss nationals.
International Student Support have created the below video guide for students who are providing their status in response to a request from the university's Immigration Compliance team:
Applying for a Student Route visa from outside the UK
Please be aware that there are temporary policy concessions for study visa holders in response to the outbreak of Covid-19. The concessions will all be kept under regular review and will be withdrawn once the situation returns to normal. Please ensure that you read the Coronavirus (COVID-19): Student sponsors, migrants and short-term students guidance alongside the Student and Child Student Guidance and ISS resources when preparing your application.
When to apply
You can apply for a Student Route visa up to 6 months before the course start date on your CAS. You must apply for the Student Route visa in enough time to allow you to undertake the following:
- Receive your 30- or 90-day visa sticker (or online digital status if you are an EEA national with a passport with a biometric chip applying with the UK Immigration: ID check app) to travel to the UK with
- Please do not arrive before the 'valid from' date on your 30- or 90-day visa sticker
- Collect BRP within 10 days of arriving in UK (however, please read the information for students who are required to self-isolate after arrival in the UK)
- Complete Registration (including visa registration) before the course start date on your CAS.
Please see the Student and Child Student Guidance for full details of the documents you need and the content requirements. Some of the common documents to prepare when applying for a Student Route visa include:
- Current passport
- CAS: make sure all details on your CAS are accurate. Contact the Admissions team to request a CAS update if any changes are required.
- Documents: stated in the English Language and Evidence Used to Obtain Offer sections of CAS.
- Financial evidence: evidence that you meet UKVI's financial requirements covering course fees and living costs.
- ATAS certificate: if required for your course and if not exempt by nationality. Please note that ATAS applications can take approximately 20-30 working days to be processed.
- Currency Conversions: using the OANDA website if the currency on your financial document is not in GBP (£ pounds sterling).
- Translations: of any documents not in English language.
- TB test certificate: residents of certain countries need a TB test if coming to the UK for more than 6 months
You should expect to receive your CAS by e-mail once you have accepted your unconditional offer and uploaded all documents relating to meeting the entry requirements for your course. The CAS will usually be issued within the 3 months before your course start date. If you have any CAS-related queries, require an error to be corrected or require your fee payments to be updated, please contact External Relations. Please ensure any corrections/updates are made before you submit your visa application.
Postgraduate Taught: firstname.lastname@example.org
Postgraduate Research: email@example.com
Students Under 18
Application fee and Immigration Health Surcharge
When you submit your application, you will need to pay a visa application fee and in most cases you will also have to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS). These will normally be paid in the currency of the country in which you are applying. The IHS is calculated based on how long your visa will be if your application is successful.
Appointments, Biometric Information & Credibility Interviews
Appointments: At the time of submitting your visa application fee(s) online, you will also book an appointment at your local Visa Application Centre. This is where you will submit the required documents for your application.
Biometric information: Most people obtaining a visa for the UK will need to provide biometric information, which involves giving fingerprints and having a digital photograph taken at your appointment.
Credibility interviews: You may be asked to attend a credibility interview. The interview will be short (around 5 minutes) and should also be conducted during your appointment by video link with UK Visas & Immigration staff based in the UK. The questions will be about your immigration, education and/or employment history, study and post-study plans and financial circumstances.
Differential evidence arrangements
Certain nationals applying for a Student Route visa do not need to provide evidence of their finances or their 'evidence used to obtain the offer' documents with their visa application. See Appendix Student, paragraph ST 22.1 for full details.
You must still meet all the Student Route visa requirements and ensure that you collect the documents before submitting your application, as UKVI have the right to request your documents at any time during the application process.
Biometric Residence Permits
Biometric Residence Permits (BRPs) are issued to Student Route visa holders and their dependants coming to the UK with permission to stay that exceeds 6 months. If your Student Route visa application made outside the UK is successful, you should receive:
- An Entry Clearance vignette/sticker in your passport which is valid for 30 or 90 days and
- A Decision Letter which confirms the application has been successful and specifies the address from which you will need to collect your BRP after arrival in the UK (please bring this to the UK as you will need it to collect your BRP).
You can choose to collect your BRP from the Immigration Compliance Team in the university. For more details on how to specify this when you apply for your visa, please see the information here.
You must collect your BRP within 10 days of arriving in the UK or before the 30 day vignette/sticker expires, whichever is later. However, please read the information for students who are required to self-isolate after arrival in the UK.
Important: as soon as you receive your visa sticker, Decision Letter/e-mail and BRP, check the details below carefully to ensure that any errors are reported within the UKVI timeframes:
- Your personal details are correct
- The type of visa granted is correct and that
- It is valid for the date on which you want to travel and for the correct duration.
Please note: EEA nationals who have used the UK Immigration: ID check app receive their visa in the form of an online digital status, rather than a visa sticker or BRP.
Find out more
- ISS FAQs Guide to Applying for a Student visa outside the UK
- UKCISA Student Route visa information
- UKVI Student Route visa information
- UK Government Points-based immigration system guide for EU students
Standard Visitor Visas for short courses
Please be aware that there are also temporary policy concessions for Short Term Students in response to the outbreak of Covid-19. The concessions will all be kept under regular review and will be withdrawn once the situation returns to normal. Please ensure that you read the Covid-19: Guidance for Tier 4 Sponsors and Migrants and for Short Term students alongside the and ISS resources when preparing your application.
Please note that it is not possible to undertake employment or extend your stay on this visa type.
Standard Visitor Visas
You will be allowed to undertake a short course of study of up to 6 months in duration in the UK (excluding English language courses) if you apply for a visa or enter the UK as a Standard Visitor on or after 9 am on 1st December 2020.
You will not limited to studying one course and are not required to have a place on a course before arriving in the UK.
If you are at least 16 years old and studying a course equivalent to a UK degree in another country, you may also undertake the following under the Standard Visitor visa route:
- research or be taught about research at a UK institution
- electives at a UK higher education provider (but only if you are studying medicine, veterinary medicine and science, or dentistry as your principle course of study) and the electives are relevant to your course of study abroad, are unpaid and do not involve the treatment of patients.
The Statement of Changes HC813 clarifies: "Where the applicant is seeking to come to the UK to undertake research or be taught about research at a UK institution, their overseas course provider must confirm that: (a) the research or research tuition is relevant to the course of study that they are enrolled on overseas; and (b) the applicant will not be employed at the UK institution, either as a sponsored researcher under Appendix Tier 5 (Temporary Worker) Government Authorised Exchange Scheme Worker, or otherwise".
The types of study below are in addition to the current permitted study activities for Visitors:
- taking part in educational exchanges or visits and attending recreational courses that do not lead to a qualification, and do not include English Language training, for a maximum of 30 days.
You will need to prove that you have enough money to cover all reasonable costs of your visit without working or accessing public funds, including the cost of the return or onward journey. You will be able to use someone else's money to prove this if you have personal or professional relationship with them, and they will provide support to you for the duration of your visit.
You do not have to see a UKVI Border Force Officer on arrival to get leave to enter the UK as a Visitor to study if you are permitted to use automatic ePassport gates - see ukborder-control for further information.
UKVI - How to apply for a Standard Visitor Visa (to study a course of under 6 months in the UK)
Visa Nationals applying for a Standard Visitor visa:
Visa nationals are nationals of countries listed in Appendix Visitor: Visa National List of the Immigration Rules. Visa nationals must apply for a visa before travelling to the UK.
Non-visa Nationals applying for a Standard Visitor visa:
If you are a non-visa national, it is possible to travel to the UK without a visa and apply for a Standard Visitor visa on arrival. If you do this, you must show the Border Force officer that you meet the requirements of that category by carrying the relevant documents listed below. If you are a non-visa national and would prefer to obtain the Standard Visitor visa before travelling to the UK, this is also acceptable.
Entering the UK via Dublin (EU, EEA, USA, Japan, South Korea and other non-visa nationals)
Please see the UKCISA information on entering the UK via Dublin.
Entering the UK via eGates
If you are eligible to use the eGates, and have not applied for a Standard Visitor visa before arriving in the UK, you will be granted leave to enter under the Standard Visitor visa route when you enter the UK via the eGates system.
More travellers are now able to use eGates on arrival in the UK at 15 major airports (including Glasgow, Edinburgh and Heathrow airports) and Eurostar terminals. EGates use facial recognition technology to check your identity against the photo in your passport and therefore the arrival process should be much quicker. In addition to UK, EU and EEA nationals who can already use eGates, from the launch date, nationals of Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea and the United States of America will also be able to use the eGates. Please however note the following important points:
- You cannot use eGates if you are travelling with children under 12
- You cannot use eGates if you are using a national ID card or passport which does not have a biometric chip
- You cannot use eGates if you are coming to the UK as a short-term student (coming for up to six months) and you need a stamp in your passport as you have not applied for entry clearance (a visa) before leaving your home country
For more information, please see UKVI's eGates Information Leaflet.
Electronic Visa Waiver:
If you are a national of Kuwait, Oman, Qatar or the United Arab Emirates, you may be able to obtain a visa for a short course of study (where the course lasts 6 months or less) by using the Electronic Visa Waiver (EVW).
Find out more:
When you get your visa check it to ensure that:
- Your personal details are correct,
- The type of visa granted is correct and that
- It is valid for the date on which you want to travel and for the correct duration.
Applying for a Dependant visa from outside the UK
You may be able to bring dependants (partner/spouse, and children under 18) with you to the UK.
Your dependant(s) should apply for their PBS Dependant visa in the country of which they are a national or where they legally live.
Only Student visa applicants or Student visa holders who meet the following criteria can bring their dependants to the UK:
- Government sponsored students who are on a course which is longer than 6 months OR
- Postgraduate students who are on a course of 9 months or longer at a publicly-funded Higher Education Institution (the University of Glasgow meets this criteria) or a recognised body.
Find out more:
- UKVI information
- Find your local Visa Application Centre
- Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS)
- Find out if your dependant(s) need to be tested for tuberculosis
Applying for a child to come to the UK as your dependant:
UKVI state that both parent's must lawfully be in the UK if a child is also applying as a dependant, unless:
(i) The Relevant Points Based System Migrant is the applicant’s sole surviving parent, or
(ii) The Relevant Points Based System Migrant parent has and has had sole responsibility for the applicant’s upbringing, or
(iii) there are serious or compelling family or other considerations which would make it desirable not to refuse the application and suitable arrangements have been made in the UK for the applicant’s care.
Please see the UKISA Dependants webpages for further information.
Differentiation Arrangements and PBS dependants
Where you and your dependants hold the same 'low risk' nationality, and you are all applying for Entry Clearance together from your country of nationality, they are also able to apply using the 'differentiation arrangements' detailed earlier.
Biometric Residence Permits
If your dependants are coming to the UK for longer than 6 months, they will need to collect a Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) on arrival in the UK. Please see above for more information.
International Student Support offer activities and support for dependants of international students. If you will have a spouse and /or children joining you to live in the UK while you study, please see our International Family Network webpages for more information and how to register!
Graduate Immigration Route
On 11 September 2019 the UK Government announced the creation of a new immigration route which will enable international students to remain in the UK for two years after they have completed their studies.
The Graduate visa route can be applied to by both Student and Tier 4 visa holders who have successfully completed the course that their current visa was granted for them to study, from the time the Graduate visa route is open for applications in summer 2021.
- The Graduate Immigration Route will be available to international students who have completed a degree at undergraduate level or above at a Higher Education Provider with a track record of compliance and who have a valid Tier 4 or Student visa at the time of application.
- Successful applicants on this route will be able to stay and work, or look for work, in the UK at any skill level for a maximum period of two years. Graduates will be able to switch into skilled work once they have found a suitable job.
- The new route will be launched in the summer of 2021, meaning that any eligible student who graduates in the summer of 2021 or after will be able to apply for the route. This includes students who have already started their courses.
More information about the route will be available on the Gov.UK website when available.