The International Group of UKBA have produced detailed guidance aimed at helping students arrive in the UK during the peak season. The guidance is now on the UKBA site (http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/sitecontent/newsarticles/2012/july/46-student-arrival) or can be downloaded here.
Nationals of the European Economic Area and Switzerland
If you are a national or citizen of a country outside the European Economic Area or Switzerland and you will be on a course of study of more than 6 months duration, it is compulsory for you to obtain a visa in order to travel to and enter the UK as a 'student'.
You should apply for a visa from your nearest British diplomatic post. You can find your nearest visa application centre and information on how to apply for a visa from the UK Visas website. When applying for a visa you will be required to provide supporting documents. You are advised to keep all the original documents with you while you are travelling to the UK.
You must make the necessary arrangements to apply for a visa well in advance of your date of travel to the United Kingdom. Please also ensure that you obtain the correct visa before you travel. On entering the United Kingdom, you will have to pass through immigration control, where you will be asked for your passport and other certificates mentioned above. The ‘visa’ will specify the date after which you may enter the UK and the date by which you are required to either leave the UK or apply for an extension of stay in the UK.
If you are not a visa national and are coming to the UK to study for a maximum of six months, you may qualify to enter as a 'student visitor'. You will not need to obtain entry clearance in advance of travelling. If you choose to come as a 'student visitor' you will be much more restricted than if you come as a 'student'. You will not be allowed to do any work or work placement (even if it is part of a course, or is unpaid). You will not be allowed to apply for more time in the UK, if your studies are extended. For these reasons, it is not normally appropriate to come to the UK as a 'student visitor'.
If you want to come as a 'student visitor' you must show that you have been unconditionally accepted on a course that is provided by an organisation listed on the Register of Education and Training Providers. You must be at least 18 years old, and have the financial resources to accommodate and maintain yourself during the visit. You should only come as a 'student visitor' if you are absolutely certain you will not want to work in the UK and you will not want to stay for longer than six months. 'Student visitors' do not have to study full-time
Most visa applications should be made online. If you need to print and fill in a visa application form, you can download the form you need from the visa application forms page. Once you have submitted your online application you will still be required to provide your original passport, supporting documents and the appropriate fees if you have not paid on-line. Current visa costs are available on your local visa issuing offices website. You can visit their site by following the link on the Supported Countries page.
Due to immigration difficulties encountered in recent years, we do NOT advise students to arrive in the UK via the Republic of Ireland. If you do plan to arrive this way, you must apply for a visa before you leave your country (see the information above)
On arrival, an immigration officer may ask you to show evidence of your reasons for coming to the UK. This may include travel tickets, evidence of funding, letters from the University of Ulster. You should carry in your hand luggage copies of documents that you showed to the entry clearance officer when you applied for your visa.
For information on visa extensions and other comprehensive advice, please click here.
To help the increasing number of foreign nationals who have to enrol their biometric information (fingerprints and photograph) when they apply to extend their stay in the United Kingdom, the UK Border Agency is setting up new biometric enrolment facilities around the country. Since November 2008, we have been issuing compulsory identity cards to foreign nationals from outside the European Economic Area who extend their stay here as partners or students. In March 2009, we expanded the scheme to more categories of applicant. We are working with the Identity and Passport Service to set up biometric enrolment facilities for foreign nationals in four of its interview offices in June. The four offices are all in England:
Also in June, we will open a new UK Border Agency public enquiry office with enrolment capability in Belfast, Northern Ireland. This will replace the interim biometric enrolment solution in Armagh, Northern Ireland, which has been operating in partnership with IPS since last year.
We will continue to offer the biometric enrolment service at our UK Border Agency offices in Sheffield, Liverpool, Solihull, Cardiff, Glasgow and Croydon. Lunar House in Croydon is the United Kingdom's largest centre for biometric enrolment, and this month we increased the number of its enrolment booths from 10 to 15.
Enrolment will continue to be by appointment only at all offices. For up-to-date information, please see our page on biometric enrolment centres - this page will be updated with new sites as they open in the coming weeks. By recording and checking fingerprints and digital photographs against existing records before deciding whether to grant permission to stay, we can strengthen our border and reduce abuse of the system. The identity card issued to successful applicants helps to prove their right to live, work or study here, and helps employers, educational establishments and public service providers understand migrants' entitlements.
Some students have received calls from people claiming to be from UKBA and telling students to pay money to correct an error with their visa or application. These calls are fraudulent. UKCISA has given advice on what to do. Please report any such calls to us: email@example.com