The UK's new and improved Student route, which falls under the UK's new points-based immigration system, has now opened for applications (5 October). It improves on the previous Tier 4 route making for a more streamlined experience for both sponsoring institutions and students.

How does the new Student route differ from the current Tier 4 route for international students?

The Student route will streamline and simplify the current requirements and application process for international students studying in the UK.
Improvements include:

  • Allowing greater ability to apply for further leave as a Student in the UK, including study at any student sponsor type and at any level;
  • Giving prospective students overseas the option to apply up to six months in advance of their course start date;
  • Removing study time limits for all students on postgraduate courses;
  • Removing the maintenance requirements for students who have already been in the UK for 12 months with valid leave, for those on recognised foundation programmes as doctors and dentists, and for students applying as student union sabbatical officers;
  • Expanding ‘light touch’ documentary evidence requirements to EEA nationals;
  • Giving higher education providers with a track record of compliance the ability to confirm students academic ability without the need for previous qualifications to be submitted alongside an application;
  • Bringing in a new ‘academic engagement’ policy to replace attendance monitoring for students at degree level and above;
  • From the summer of 2021, introducing the new Graduate route for those who successfully complete a degree in the UK – allowing them to work or look for work for up to two years (three years for PhD graduates) after their studies.

Can international students work under the Student Route?

  • As with the previous Tier 4 route, depending on the level of study and the sponsoring institution, a student may be able to take up part time work in the UK alongside their studies. Different restrictions apply regarding what type of employment is permitted. Students will be notified of the work conditions that apply to them when they receive notice of their application being granted.

Will EU/EEA/Swiss nationals be able to apply straight away?

  • EEA nationals who are applying from outside the UK, who are planning to come to the UK from 1 January 2021 can apply from 5 October.
  • EEA nationals who are currently in the UK, or plan to come to the UK to study by 31 December 2020 should apply under the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS) before 30 June 2021.

What about EU/EEA/Swiss nationals who have already started studying?

  • EEA/Swiss students who are already studying in the UK, or plan to come to the UK to study by 31 December 2020 should apply under the
    EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS) before 30 June 2021.
  • What about EU/EEA/Swiss nationals who have started studying by distance learning and will come to the UK in the future?
  • EEA/Swiss students starting courses through distance learning must apply under the Student route if they are coming to the UK from 1 January 2021

What will the application process be like for EU/EEA/Swiss nationals?

  • EEA and Swiss nationals will be able to use the new ‘UK Immigration: ID Check’ app which will use a chip in their passport to verify an
    applicant’s identity. If the chip is broken, or someone is unable to use the app then they will be directed to a Visa Application Centre to register biometrics instead.
  • Those able to use the UK Immigration ID check app when applying will receive electronic notification of UKVI’s decision. This will set out the
    full conditions of their immigration status.
  • They will also be able to check their immigration status and its conditions at any time using the ‘view and prove’ service on GOV.UK. This online service will provide a secure record of someone’s immigration status which is held digitally by the Home Office and is available to them at all times.
  • The ‘view and prove’ service can also be used to share and evidence of someone’s rights in the UK – such as the right to work or study – by
    giving organisations or people, such as employers or universities access to the relevant information about their immigration status.

Will EU/EEA/Swiss citizens need to apply for a visa for short term study?

  • EU/EEA and Swiss students can continue to visit the UK for up to 6 months, without applying for a visa and may participate in short term study. All nonrecreational study must be undertaken at an accredited institution. Recreational courses undertaken for leisure, that last no longer than 30 days and which do not lead to any formal qualifications, will not need to be undertaken at an accredited institution.
  • The 6-11 month short term study route is distinct from the main student route and requires applicants of all nationalities to obtain a visa
    before travelling to the UK. This route is specifically for people taking English language courses, and it does not require sponsorship and does not permit work.