If you are applying for UK immigration permission on or after 1 December 2020 (1 January 2021 if you are an EU national), and you will study for less than 6 months, you should apply as a Standard Visitor.
Nationals of certain countries do not need to apply for a visa for the UK if they will be coming to stay for less than 6 months. Instead, you will request entry to the UK as a Standard Visitor when you arrive.
There is a list of nationalities who DO require a visa at the link below. If your country is NOT on that list, you are a 'non-visa national'. Most* non-visa nationals will need to meet with a Border Force official on their arrival to the UK and get a stamp in their passport.
*Some non-visa nationals, including all EU nationals, will be able to enter via the eGates. This means you will not get a stamp. See the section about eGates below for more information.
EU nationals will fall under this category from 1 January 2021. If you are an EU national and you have arrived, or will arrive in the UK before that, you should apply through the EU Settlement Scheme.
If you are a national of one of the countries that appears on the visa national list you will need to apply for a visa before you travel to the UK. You should aim to apply for your visa around 2-3 months before you intend to travel.
You will need to make your application online, and submit your biometric information (your finger prints and digital photo) at your nearest Visa Application Centre.
Nationals of the European Economic Area, Switzerland, Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, and the United States do not normally need to meet with a Border Force agent, and will be able to enter the UK through E-gates. The E-gates will automatically grant you permission to stay in the UK for up to 6 months.
You will not receive a stamp on your passport, so it is very important that you retain evidence of when you entered the UK. We recomend that you keep your boarding pass. If you no longer have your boarding pass, keep evidence of your flight itinerary.
Nationals or citizens of Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates may apply for an Electronic Visa Waiver (EVW) prior to travelling to the UK.
The EVW will give you permission to enter the UK as a Standard Visitor. It will also permit transit via the Republic of Ireland.
You can obtain an EVW by providing the required biographic and travel information at UK Government's website.
You should keep a copy of your EVW, and of your boarding pass or flight itinerary to prove when you entered the UK.
Whether you obtain your Standard Visitor visa before you travel, or on arrival to the UK, you will need to prepare documents to show that you meet the requirements for the Standard Visitor visa.
As well as your passport, or EU national ID card, you will need evidence of:
The purpose of your visit
- (Your invitation letter from the University of Edinburgh detailing your UK studies)
- How you intend to support yourself financially during your stay
- (e.g. bank statements, a scholarship letter, educational loan documents)
- Your accommodation
- (e.g. accommodation contract, or evidence of temporary accommodation where you will stay while you look for somewhere to live)
- Your intention to leave the UK before the end of the 6 month period
- (e.g. return flight tickets/evidence that you are expected return to your home country to complete your studies)
- Your ATAS certificate, where appropriate
You can find full details of the Standard Visitor visa, including the application form and more information about the documentary requirements, on the UKVI website.
As a Standard Visitor in the UK you are permitted to*:
- Study for up to six months at an accredited institution, provided that study is not at a state funded school or academy;
- Undertake electives relevant to their course of study overseas, providing these are unpaid, involve no treatment of patients, and the visitor is:
- aged 16 years or over; and
- enrolled on a course of study abroad equivalent to at least degree level study in the UK; and (c) studying medicine, veterinary medicine and science, or dentistry as their principle course of study;
- Undertake research or be taught about research at a UK instituion, which you are enrolled on a course of study abroad equivalent to at least degree level study in the UK;
- Visit friends and family, or take a holiday (outside of the times you are expected to study);
- Attend meetings, conferences, seminars, interviews.
Standard Visitors who come to the UK for the purpose of study must not*:
- Work in the UK, including:
- taking employment in the UK; and
- doing work for an organisation or business in the UK; and
- establishing or running a business as a self-employed person; and
- doing a work placement or internship; and
- direct selling to the public; and
- providing goods and services,
- Access medical treatment, other than private medical treatment or to donate an organ;
- Get married or form a civil partnership, or give notice of intention to marry or form a civil partnership;
- Receive payment from a UK source for any activities undertaken in the UK, except for:
- reasonable expenses to cover the cost of travel and subsistence;
- Prize money.
*PLEASE NOTE, THESE ARE NOT EXHAUSTIVE LISTS OF PERMISSIONS AND PROHIBITIONS. FOR FULL INFORMATION ABOUT YOUR PERMISSIONS, PLEASE CHECK APPENDIX VISITOR OF THE IMMIGRATION RULES AFTER 1 DECEMBER 2020, OR CONTACT AN ADVISER.
If your period of study is longer than six months, it is unlikely that you will meet the requirements of the Standard Visitor route. This is because you must prove that you are a genuine visitor, and you:
- do not intend to extend your stay or live in the UK through frequent and successive visits;
- you intend to leave the UK within six months;
- you intend to study for up to six months.
However, there are certain circumstances where it may be appropriate for you to come to the UK as a Standard Visitor, even if your programme is longer than six months. These include:
- if you are studying a Distance Learning programme and you wish to come to the UK for short periods of study activity, such as exams, meetings with a supervisor, revision sessions, etc.
- if you need to repeat a single semester, or attend the exam diet for resits before progressing to the rest of your programme.
- if you can complete your studies within 6 months of arriving in the UK.
If you would like further advice on whether you qualify to come to the UK as a Standard Visitor for your studies, please email us with full details of your circumstances.
All students on a full-time course of studies in Scotland are eligible for National Health Service (NHS) treatment. If you are studying here full time as a visiting student on the Standard Visitor route and you experience an illness or accident, for example, you will be able to access NHS treatment. This is provided for free however, you may have to pay for dentistry and some more specialised services.
However, it must not be your intention to access healthcare when you travel. We advise that students take out adequate travel insurance which includes a medical component and also protection to cover personal items, such as baggage, books, personal computers, etc.
If you have a pre-existing medical condition, we strongly advise that you contact the Student Disability Service which will be able to provide advice and support about treatment and medication.
You should research the options available to you and select the insurance policy which is most suited to your situation. However, the National Union of Students (NUS) recommends Endsleigh, which has specific insurance for international students in the UK.
The Republic of Ireland and the UK form part of the Common Travel Area (CTA). There is no immigration control between the two countries, so if you transit to the UK through the ROI you will not meet with a Border Force official.
If you have sought entry clearance permission as a Standard Visitor, either by obtaining a visa, or through the Electronic Visa Waiver scheme, you will not need to meet with Immigration Control, but you should keep a copy of your EVW and/or your boarding pass and flight itinerary to show when you entered the UK.
If you are a non-visa national and enter the UK via the Republic of Ireland without having secured a visa, you will be given permission to be in the UK for six months . You will be able to study but employment (paid or unpaid) will not be permitted. We recommend that you keep your boarding passes or travel itinerary in a safe place as you will need to evidence your date of arrival in the UK.