In order to travel to the United Kingdom to attend university, school or an educational course, the majority of foreign visitors will need a visa, Electronic Visa Waiver (EVW) or an eTA visa waiver. This is an obligatory requirement for most nationalities and must be attained before travelling to a British port of entry.
To explain how to travel to the UK as a foreign student, this page details:
- What documents you will need for a student visa
- What kind of visas students must hold to enter the UK
- Who is eligible for a student visa for the UK
What documents are necessary for a UK study visa?
To be approved for a visa for study purposes in the UK visitors will need to meet a number of important prerequisites. They vary for educational reasons.
For shorter-term visas, applicants can register online and will only need to provide travel information and identifying documents when registering. This applies for individuals who are eligible for the UK eTA and EVW.
The main requirements for an eTA or EVW include:
- Submitting a completed application form
- Providing a valid passport
- Giving details on your travel itinerary
- Providing an accommodation address (EVW only)
- Paying the visa fees
For longer-term visas, applicants will need to provide more detailed evidence. It is also required to travel to a UK consulate or embassy to apply for this travel authorization.
What study visas are available for learning in the UK?
There are multiple ways that applicants may successfully attain travel authorization to enter the UK for study purposes. The exact type of visa needed ultimately depends on the amount of time that visitors intend to reside in the country for study.
Students can enter the country with any of the following valid documents:
- Tier 4 Student Visa
- Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA): short term study only
- Electronic Visa Waiver (EVW): short term study only
- Visitors Visa
In the case of an eTA, registrants will need to complete an online application at least 3 working days before their intended arrival date in the UK. Once approved the visa waiver is then sent directly to the holder’s personal email address and grants a multiple short stays in the country.
The EVW has a similar application process but it is single-use only. However, it permits a stay in the country of up to 6 months.
Applicants who are ineligible for the eTA or EVW system, will instead need to apply for a Visitor or study visa from a consulate or embassy. This requires attending an interview to assess eligibility and submitting additional documentation. For longer study courses it may also be obligatory to provide evidence of sponsorship from a licensed institution in the UK.
Who is eligible for a study visa for the UK?
Anyone wishing to study in the UK who is not a citizen of a country with a visa-free agreement with Britain must hold a valid visa or visa waiver.
Overseas students will be able to attain a visa or visa waiver depending on specific criteria.
The simplest option for students about to undertake study lasting a few months is with an Electronic Travel Authorization. This is expected to be launched soon for European Economic Area nationals and other non-visa nationals.
It is also possible for citizens of Qatar, Kuwait, Oman and the UAE to apply online for up to 180 days in the country for short term study with an Electronic Visa Waiver (EVW).
Other foreign nationals will be able to visit the UK for short courses or professional training with a Visitors Visa. However, this variety of visa cannot be used to:
- Study for longer than 30 days
- Live in the UK long term
- Secure public funds
For all other courses of study, travellers will instead have to gain an approved Tier 4 study visa. This can also be acquired from a UK foreign mission no earlier than 3 months before travelling to Britain.