Your Visa Guide 2021

What you need to know about getting a visa to stay and study in the UK

The information on this page is for guidance only. If you are unsure about your visa status, or for the most up-to-date information, please contact your local embassy or visit www.gov.uk/government/organisations/uk-visas-and-immigration.

Last updated: November 2020

If you are a ‘Non-Visa National’ (e.g. All EU/EEA countries, Argentina, Brazil, Japan, Korea, Taiwan) you can enter the UK with a ‘Visitor Visa’ that is issued on arrival. You can stay and study for up to 6 months.  You can enter through the e-gates and do not need to speak to immigration staff at the entry point. There will be no stamp in your passport. If you want to study for more than 6 months you will need to apply for either a Short-term Study visa or a Student Visa before you travel – see details below.

If you are a ‘Visa National’ (e.g. from China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, UAE, Ukraine) you always need to apply for a visa before you travel. If your course is less than 6 months you can enter and study with a ‘Visitor Visa’. If you want to study for more than 6 months you can apply for a ‘Short–Term Study visa’ (up to 11 months).

Visa Types

Visitor Visa

From January 2021, all visitors will be able to study in the UK as much as they want for up to six months.

EU, EEA and Swiss students will not need a visitor visa: they can arrive at the border and either show their passport or enter through the electronic passport gates to be granted entry clearance.

Non-visa national countries

Students who have a passport from one of the following countries do not need a visa to visit the UK or study for up to six months:

Any EEA country
Argentina
Antigua and Barbuda
Argentina
Australia
Bahamas
Barbados
Belize
Botswana
Brazil
Brunei
Canada
Chile
Costa Rica
Dominica
East Timor
El Salvador
Grenada
Guatemala
Honduras
Hong Kong
Israel
Japan
Kiribati
Macau
Malaysia
Maldives
Marshall Islands
Mauritius
Mexico
Micronesia
Monaco
Namibia
Nauru
New Zealand
Nicaragua
Palau
Panama
Papua New Guinea
Paraguay
Saint Kitts and Nevis
Saint Lucia
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
Samoa
San Marino
Seychelles
Singapore
Solomon Islands
South Korea
Taiwan
Tonga
Trinidad and Tobago
Tuvalu
United States of America
Uruguay
Vanuatu
Vatican City

Key facts about Standard Visitor visas:

  • From December 2020, visitors can study as much as they like on this visa.
  • Application cost: £95
  • When to apply up to three months in advance
  • Financial requirements: the applicant will need to show that they have enough money to pay for their trip, including accommodation and living costs
  • For students who are under 18, there are additional requirements

Short-term study visa – for English language courses between six and eleven months

Students who want to study English in the UK for between six and eleven months should apply for a Short-term study visa before travel.

EU/EEA/Swiss nationals: From 2021, students need a visa to study for longer than six months.

Key facts about Short-term study visas:

  • minimum age is 16 years old
  • Visa length: 11 months maximum
  • Students are only allowed to study an English language course on this visa.
  • Suitable for beginners – there is no minimum level of English required
  • Before applying, applicants must choose a course and have a letter of confirmation from LanguageUK.
  • Applicants need to show they have enough money to pay for course fees, accommodation and living costs and their return journey.
  • Students with this visa cannot work in the UK

If you are under 18 years old, you also need to show:

  • you have booked your travel and accommodation
  • you have permission from your parent or guardian
  • Application cost: £186
  • When to apply up to three months in advance
  • You can apply for a short-term study visa up to 3 months before your date of travel and should get a decision within 3 weeks of application. Check the gov.uk visa processing times for more information.
  • Apply online for a Short term study visa

More information on UK visas for students

For more information, the UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA) is an excellent source of advice for students, on visas, money and living in the UK.

Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS)

You usually need to pay the IHS if your visa is over 6 months. It entitles you to use parts of the National Health Service that are free. You will need to pay the IHS even if you have Private Health/travel insurance.

Do you have questions? Need more information?

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