If you are coming to the United Kingdom as a student, before you come here you will need to have been accepted onto a course of study by an organisation that is on the register of education and training providers.
The course should be at one of the following:
- a publicly funded institution of further or higher education (a university) with maintained records of enrolment and attendance which are readily available to us;
- a genuine private education institution; or
- an independent fee-paying school;
and you need to be undertaking one of these:
- a recognised full-time degree course;
- a course run during the week that involves at least 15 hours of organised daytime study a week; or
- a full-time course of study at an independent fee paying school.
You must also:
- be registered with the United Kingdom awarding body if you are studying externally for a degree at a private education institution; and
- be able to pay for your course and support and accommodate yourself and any dependants without working or help from public funds; and
- plan to leave the United Kingdom when you complete your studies.
If you are coming to the United Kingdom as a visitor to study you must:
- genuinely be seeking entry as a student visitor for the limited period you tell us you require that does not exceed six months;
- have been accepted on a course of study that will be provided by an organisation included on the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills' register of education and training providers;
- leave the United Kingdom at the end of the visit you told us about;
- support and pay for accommodation for yourself and any dependants without help from public funds; or
- ensure that you and your dependants will be supported and accommodated by relatives or friends and not take employment; and
- be able to meet the cost of the return or onward journey.
You must not:
- take employment in the United Kingdom;
- engage in business, produce goods or provide services within the United Kingdom, including selling goods or services direct to members of the public;
- study at a government-funded school;
- be a child under the age of 18;
- undertake part-time (up to 20 hours), or full-time vacation employment;
- undertake a work placement or internship (paid or unpaid) as part of your course of study; or
- extend your stay in the United Kingdom.
What papers do I need to apply to study in the United Kingdom?
- Since 1 September 2007 all nationals of countries outside the European Economic Area (EEA) who wish to study in the United Kingdom need prior entry clearance (permission to come here) as a student.
- This does not apply if you wish to come here as a student visitor for a course of less than six months. Student visitors must meet the same entry clearance requirements as visitors.
Can I extend my stay in the United Kingdom to study?
If you are a student who already has leave (permission to stay) to study here, you can apply to extend your stay if:
- you last entered the United Kingdom with a valid student or prospective student entry clearance; or
- you were last granted permission to enter or stay to re-sit an examination; or
- as a student union sabbatical officer;
- as a work permit holder;
- under the Science and Engineering Graduates Scheme, now known as the International Graduates Scheme; or
- under the Fresh Talent: Working in Scotland Scheme; or
- you have valid leave (permission to stay) as a student.
If you attend a succession of short courses below degree level the maximum time you can stay in total as a student is two years. A short course is a course less than one year long or longer courses broken off before completion.
You will not be able to extend your stay in the United Kingdom as a student visitor. There are no provisions in the student visitor rules for extensions to be granted. You can only obtain leave (permission to enter the United Kingdom) as a student visitor by applying for a student visitor visa at a British diplomatic post abroad or by seeking leave from an immigration officer when you arrive in the United Kingdom.
Identity cards for foreign nationals
From 25 November 2008, under the provisions of the Immigration (Biometric Registration) Regulations 2008, compulsory identity cards are being introduced for foreign nationals applying for permission to remain in the United Kingdom.
How do I apply for a Compulsory identity card?
From 25 November 2008, when you apply for an extension of your stay as a student in the United Kingdom you will have to make an appointment to go to one of Home Office seven enrolment centres (Croydon, Sheffield, Liverpool, Solihull, Cardiff, Glasgow and Armagh) to have your photograph taken and your fingerprints scanned and recorded (which is a quick and clean process). Your fingerprints and photograph are known as 'biometric information'.
If your application is successful, you will then receive an identity card, which replaces the stickers (known as vignettes) that we previously put in the passports of people who were given permission to stay here. Your identity card will be sent out to you by secure delivery within three to five days. Identity cards cannot be issued on the same day.
How do I use the card?
Your card is proof of your permission to stay in the United Kingdom and shows any conditions you must meet while you are here. It will help official agencies, employers and education providers (such as universities and colleges) to see what you are entitled to. This will enable you to confirm your identity, what rights you have to study or work here and to access public services.
You will need to show it to your employer or education provider to prove that you are allowed to work or study. If you travel outside the United Kingdom during your time here, you will also need to show it at any overseas port or airport before you start a journey back to the United Kingdom and again when you return to this country. The card proves you are allowed to return to the United Kingdom, but it cannot be used instead of a passport or travel document.
What if my card is lost or stolen?
If your card is lost or stolen, you must report the loss or theft to UK Border Agency on 0300 123 2412 as soon as possible. The card will be cancelled.
If your card is lost or stolen, you must apply for another card within three months of reporting the theft or loss of your original card using replacement card form ICFN (RC). If you do not, you may face a financial penalty of up to £1,000.