On 1 September 2007 a new Student Visitor Visa for the UK will be introduced. This is an important and positive development but member centres, agents and students need to be aware of the consequences.


For students who need a visa to enter the UK (visa nationals), the new Student Visitor visa will:

 • cost £63, the same as a visitor visa

 • be issued normally for 6 months, even if students’ course is shorter 

 • not allow students to work

 • not allow students to extend their stay in the UK beyond 6 months

 • be issued only if students are enrolled at centres on the DfES Register

 • need students to show they meet the visitor rules to enter the UK.


For students intending to stay less than 6 months who do not need prior entry clearance to enter the UK (non-visa nationals), they should ensure that they ask for the Student Visitor category at the airport or port where they enter the UK.


ALL students that are going to do a work placement as part of their course, or wish to work or possibly to extend their stay, will need to apply to the nearest British Diplomatic post abroad for a visa to enter the UK as a STUDENT, not as a Student Visitor. The full student visa costs £99.


It will no longer be permitted for people who enter the UK after 1 September on a Visitor visa to study while they are in the UK. (We are not expecting heavy enforcement action on this in the short term, but it is likely that this will be tightened up progressively in future.)


Link for the list of visa nationals: 


Passports and visas


Most students need a valid passport, but nationals of EU countries who intend to stay for six months or less may use an identity card. Students coming from certain countries will need a visa or entry certificate; check with your travel agent, or with the British Consulate, Embassy or High Commission in your own country, to find out what is required. To make sure, in advance, that you are admitted to the UK (United Kingdom), as a student, you may ask for a 'letter of consent'. You will have to support your application with some evidence, including a certificate of acceptance by the school. The school will send you this after they have enrolled you, and usually after a deposit has been paid. Students who intend to visit other countries during their stay in the UK are advised to get ‘Multiple Entry Visas’ as ‘Single Entry Visas’ cannot be changed once in the UK. More information on visas is available from UKVisas, London SW1A 2AH, tel: (+44) (0) 7008 8438, web:


Immigration procedures before you leave

Many thousands of international students choose the United Kingdom every year because it offers outstanding opportunities. If you have this guidance note, you've probably decided to study in the UK, in which case, you've made an excellent decision.

The information in this guidance note is designed to help you prepare for obtaining entry clearance, more commonly known as a visa, to the UK. It summarises the Immigration Rules and procedures, helps you answer questions on the visa application form (VAF1), and tells you what to do if entry clearance is refused.

Use this guidance note in conjunction with the VAF1 entry clearance visa application form available from your local British Mission or (

If you have all the information you need in good time, you are more likely to be prepared and less likely to experience problems and delays.

It is vital that you check the UK visas ( and Immigration and Nationality Directorate ( websites on regular basis and liaise with the British Mission so that you are aware of how UK immigration procedures will affect you.

If you are a national of the European Economic Area (EEA),* or of Switzerland, this guide does not apply to you. Look at the following for information about your position (contact details are at the end of this guidance note): UKCOSA's Guidance note EEA Students or contact your local British Council office for advice.

* The countries of the EEA are Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Ireland, the Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the UK. In addition, Swiss nationals will be able to travel to the UK for work or study on a similar basis to EEA nationals.

How do I apply for entry clearance?

You must apply for entry clearance at the British Mission in the country of your nationality, or the country in which you are living and you should apply as far in advance as possible. Entry clearances can be issued up to three months before they start, but you must state clearly on the application form the date you intend to travel to the UK.

Whether you are a visa national or a non-visa national, ask the British Mission what procedures you need to follow, and for the visa application form (VAF1), which is free of charge, although you will have to pay a fee later. The form is available on - Click on 'How to apply' and then 'Application forms and guidance'.

UK visas online application service
UK visas is revolutionising the visa application process by gradually introducing online visa applications, online payment options and e-appointments across the globe. Once an appointment is made, an e-mail is sent to the applicant confirming the appointment and giving details of the supporting documents required for the appointment. Their aim is that long journeys to lodge an application and long queues outside visa sections should become a thing of the past.

The service is currently available in the following countries: Australia, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Belgium, Belize, Bermuda, Brazil, Canada, Congo (Democratic Republic), Costa Rica, Denmark, El Salvador, Finland, France, Germany, Guatemala, Honduras, Hong Kong, Iceland, Iran, Ireland, Jamaica, Japan, Luxembourg, Mexico, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Norway, Panama, Poland, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Tanzania, Trinidad and Tobago, UAE, the USA, and Venezuela. UK visas online application service:

Once you have the form, take time to fill it in carefully with the assistance of this guidance note. When you have completed the form, make copies of it and the other documents you are submitting for your own records. If you have a wife, husband/civil partner or child who is going to come with you to the UK, they do not need to fill in a separate form. Just tick Section 3 of the form to say they are travelling with you.

You must then take or post/e-mail* the completed form - in good time to avoid missing the beginning of your course - to the British Mission that issues student entry clearance, together with your passport, and a recent passport-sized photograph taken no more that six months prior to submitting the application.

The photograph should be taken against a light background and you should not be wearing sunglasses, hat or other head covering, unless worn for cultural or religious reasons. You should also take the fee, which is normally payable in the local currency of the country to which you are applying (which is non-refundable), and the relevant documents showing that you meet the requirements of the Immigration Rules for students.

* Please check first with the British Mission as to whether it offers a postal entry clearance service. Some visa sections also offer courier or online visa services for students. Please also check whether the visa section accepts only double-sided print- outs of the visa application forms (for example, Pakistan does not accept single-sided A4 applications).

The documents you need

You should check with your local British Mission who will be able to tell you what kind of evidence they require. British Missions are now beginning to see a growing number of applications that involve an element of fraud or forgery.

In the event that any visa applicant is found to have forged a document of any kind the application is always refused without exception, even if in all other respects the application is genuine.

As a student seeking entry clearance you will have to produce various genuine documents to show that you satisfy the Immigration Rules for students (see page 3), that is, evidence that you can pay for the course, educational certificates, and information from the institution where you intend to study.

Many applications for entry clearance are now decided on papers alone. It is therefore very important that you ensure you present the right documentation when you make your initial application. Failure to do this can result in entry clearance being refused. These same documents should be available to provide to the immigration officer on arrival even if you are a non-visa national entering the UK for a course of less than six months.

Applicants for UK visas valid for longer than six months in certain countries now require a certificate to show that they are free from infectious tuberculosis (TB).

The government announced, on 21 July 2005, its intention to implement the first phase of an overseas screening programme for TB for people applying to enter the UK for more than six months in high-risk countries (Bangladesh, Cambodia, Laos, Sudan, Tanzania, Thailand), in line with proposals made in its five-year strategy earlier this year. In the main phase of the programme, the UK government plans to roll out later in 2006 to those countries that represent the source of the highest potential numbers of migrants with infectious TB.

Further roll-out will depend on evaluation of these phases.

A further benefit of the programme is that successful applicants will benefit on arrival in the UK as they will not need to be referred to the Port Medical Inspector before being allowed to enter the country. To avoid delays, applicants must carry their certificate in their hand luggage to present to an immigration officer on arrival in the UK.

Make sure that you have the following documents and information before you apply for entry clearance:

A letter of acceptance on the course

This will be a letter from your institution confirming that you have been accepted for a course that is full-time as defined by the Immigration Rules for students, that is, it involves at least 15 hours' organised daytime study a week or is a full-time course leading to a degree.

The letter should state the course title, how long the course will last, and the date the course will finish. It should include dates of any graduation ceremony after the course finishes. It should indicate briefly the basic content of the course, how it links with previous or future courses, and any examinations you will take and any qualifications that will be earned. It may also include, if applicable, the name of the educational adviser or agent you used. It should stress that the institution is on the DfES' Register of Education and Training Providers.

If you have applied for your visa after your course has begun, the letter should state the latest date on which your institution will accept you for enrolment on the particular course.

Last modified: Tuesday, 1 April 2008, 01:50 PM