Kris Rao is an official provider of services to meet student welfare needs at Reading University. He has produced a range of informational leaflets and booklets for the international students who study there.
Now that you have been admitted to the university of your choice, you will need the British government to sanction your entry into the country. To encourage international students to study in the UK, the British government has streamlined the immigration regulations. However, you must still pay attention to the rules that are applicable to you.
International students no longer require work permits to enable them to work whilst studying in the UK. The introduction of the Highly Skilled Migrants Programme (HSMP) has permitted international students to work in the UK without a work permit after completing their course (see Chapter 10>Chapter 10 >Chapter 10>Chapter 10 ). Student visa applications at British missions abroad are now fast-tracked. A student applying for a visa or entry clearance or for an extension should experience only minimum difficulty in acquiring one.
PASSPORT OR TRAVEL DOCUMENTS
Your passport or travel documents should be valid for more than the duration of your studies in the UK. If they are about to expire, renew them before you apply for a visa or arrive in the UK. Citizens of the EEA (European Economic Area) do not necessarily need a valid passport and can use their National ID cards instead to travel to the UK.
Visa or entry clearance
Visa or entry clearance is an endorsement on your passport that allows you to enter a country for a specific purpose in a specific period of time.
EEA nationals, including Swiss nationals, can enter and work in the UK freely without any restrictions. They need only to produce their valid passport or ID card at the port of entry.
Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden.
Nationals from countries other than the ones mentioned on page 78 do not need a visa to come to the UK as a student for a course, the duration of which is less than six months. They will need to carry their proof of student status (letter of acceptance from the college or university) and proof of funding and accommodation while travelling to the UK. Upon checking these documents the immigration officer at the port of entry, will grant you permission to stay for the duration of the course. However, it is advisable to get an optional entry clearance as a student from your local British Embassy, High Commission or Consulate before leaving your country. This will make your clearance through immigration easier if you encounter any problems. An optional entry clearance will let you enter the UK temporarily and the opportunity to appeal if the immigration officer at the port of entry decides not to grant you permission to enter.
All non-EEA nationals (and their dependants) coming to the UK for a course lasting more than six months need to apply for an entry clearance at their country of residence before coming to the UK. It is no longer possible to obtain or to extend your visa or entry clearance at the port of entry.
Nationals from the following countries require a visa to enter the United Kingdom
Afghanistan, Albania, Angola, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belarus, Benin, Bhutan, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Burma, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, China, Colombia, Comoros, Congo, Cuba, Democratic Republic of Congo (Zaire), Djibouti, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Fiji, Gabon, Gambia, Georgia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Guyana, Haiti, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Ivory Coast, Jamaica, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Korea (North), Kuwait, Laos, Lebanon, Liberia, Libya, Macedonia, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritania, Moldova, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Nepal, Niger, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Philippines, Qatar, Romania, Russia, Rwanda, São Téme e Principe, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Surinam, Syria, Taiwan, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Thailand, Togo, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, Yemen, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
A stateless person or a person travelling on a non-national document rather than a passport is also required to have a visa before travelling to the UK.
HOW DO I APPLY FOR A STUDENT VISA OR ENTRY CLEARANCE?
You’ll need to apply for student visa at the British Embassy, high commission or consulate in your country of residence well in advance of the start of your course. You’ll need to fill in Non-Settlement Form VAF1 and submit it along with a passport-sized photograph and other supporting documents. Currently a student visa costs £85 to process irrespective of the length of stay. Forms and up-to-date guidance notes are provided free of charge by the UK missions abroad or can be downloaded from the internet at www.ukvisas.gov.uk
You will need to prove that you have been accepted onto a full-time course of study that involves a minimum of fifteen hours’ study a week, at an educational institution recognised on the UK’s Department for Education and Skills (DfES) Register of Education and Training Providers (a letter of acceptance from your institution should be sufficient) and you will need confirmation of your accommodation (such as a letter from your university accommodation agency offering a place in a hall of residence). You will also need to prove that you can meet the course and living expenses (and those of your dependants) without working or claiming public funds (financial documents confirming your scholarship or bank statements confirming sufficient funds will prove this); that you meet the requirements of the course (degree certificates from your home country); and that you intend to leave the UK after you finish the course. You may be asked to attend an interview by the entry clearance officer to clarify certain matters in your application. British missions abroad may also ask residents in some countries to undergo a further medical examination. Student visa applications are usually processed within 24 hours (except in Nigeria, South Africa, Ethiopia, Thailand, Philippines and Pakistan, where the process can take up to 60 days).
Bringing in your dependants
You can bring your spouse and children under 18 years of age to the UK as long as you can prove that you are able to accommodate them and can financially support them without claiming public funds. The entry clearance or immigration officer will want to see your marriage certificate, a birth certificate for every child, and evidence of your student status as well as financial documents to prove that you’ll be able to support your family in the UK. Your dependants will then be given permission to stay for the same duration as you. Dependants are permitted to work freely without a work permit as long as you stay for a minimum of 12 months.
Refusal and appeal
If you are refused a visa or entry clearance then the entry clearance officer has to give you written notice explaining why the application was refused. If you have a right to appeal, the entry clearance officer will give you two additional forms – a notice of appeal form (on which you can explain why you think he or she was wrong to refuse your application) and a leaflet explaining the appeals process. You will need to complete the notice of appeal form and return it within 28 days. The appeals process is free of charge.
Wrong type of visa or stamp
It rarely happens, but if you realise or feel that you have been given the wrong documentation contact your International Office or Student Advice Centre immediately. They can advise you on how to change your status. If you realise that you have applied for or been given the wrong visa or entry clearance then contact the British mission where you originally applied before you leave for the UK. Do not enter the UK with the wrong visa as it will cause severe problems.