Advice for those entering the UK to study

The information in this section is intended to provide general guidance about immigration formalities. More detailed advice is available from UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) and UKCISA.

Nationals of the European Economic Area and Switzerland

If you are a national of the European Economic Area or Switzerland, you are free from UK immigration controls.

Nationals of other countries on courses of more than 6 months duration

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 UKVI 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.

Non-visa nationals on courses of less than six months duration

If you are not a visa national and are coming to the UK to study for a maximum of 6 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 6 months. ‘Student visitors’ do not have to study full-time.

How to apply for a visa

You can make your visa application 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 online. Current visa costs are available on your local visa issuing offices website.

Government policy requires students to enter the UK at one of its borders or ports and NOT at one of its neighbouring states

Arriving in the UK

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 Ulster University. You should carry in your hand luggage copies of documents that you showed to the entry clearance officer when you applied for your visa.

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