On 5 October 2020, the Student Route opened for applications under the Government's new UK's Points-Based Immigration System.
All prospective international students coming to study in the UK, including those from the EU, EEA and Switzerland on or after 1 January 2021, now need to apply for a Student visa instead of a Tier 4 visa. Applications can be made online at GOV.UK and students can apply up to six months before their course starts.
EU, EEA and Swiss nationals
EU, EEA and Swiss students resident in the UK by 31 December 2020 should not apply for a Student visa through the new points-based immigration system. They, and their family members are eligible to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme. Those resident here by 31 December 2020 have until 30 June 2021 to do so.
The Student Immigration Service offers appointments to support our EU students in applying for the Settlement Scheme. The application is free, straightforward and fully digital.
We strongly encourage our EU students to apply for the Settlement Scheme as soon as possible. We also strongly recommend that incoming EU students arrive in the UK before 31 December 2020 to ensure their eligibility for the Scheme. They will then have until 30 June 2021 to apply.
EU citizens who do not qualify under EU Settlement Scheme (or other routes protected by the Withdrawal Agreement) arriving in the UK from 1 January 2021 will need to apply and qualify for entry or stay on the same basis as non-EU citizens and EU students will need to apply for the Student visa. The Home Office has published a useful introductory guide on the new PBS Immigration System specifically tailored to EU students.
Most EU citizens will not need to attend a Visa Application Centre (VAC) to enrol their biometrics and will instead provide facial images using a smartphone self-enrolment application form. Unlike other applicants, they will be granted a 'secure digital status' only, not a vignette or BRP. As part of their visa application, they will not be required to submit evidence to show that they meet the financial requirements or provide their academic qualifications used to obtain an offer of study. The Home Office however retains the right to request sight of these documents.
Key points on the Student visa
Student and Student dependant applications now come under the Student visa, regardless of the date on which a CAS was assigned.
The Student visa builds on the Tier 4 (General) Student route. It is aimed at offering a more streamlined application for the sponsor and for the student. Students require a total of 70 (non-tradeable) points to be granted leave. Points are awarded for meeting the requirements of the route, which comprise of the sponsorship requirements, English language requirements and maintenance / finance requirements.
Additionally, under the new Student visa:
the study time limit for students studying at a postgraduate level is removed (academic progression rules still remain)
students will not be routinely required to submit documentary evidence of funds when making further applications to remain in the UK
nationals from the EU, EEA, Switzerland, Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea and USA will not be subject to ATAS Clearance.