New UK Visa Rules For Students & How They'll Affect You

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So, you’re wanting to study at a UK university? Being an international student is a fun-filled adventure filled with plenty of excitement, but you need to be aware of the new UK visa rules first!

Before you start packing your bags though, you need to make sure you’ve got all your paperwork sorted.

The process of applying for a UK visa can be overwhelming at first, but don’t worry, with organisation and perseverance you’ll get there – and it’ll be so worth it when you live and study here!

We’ve answered some important questions in this blog about the new UK visa rules to keep you as informed as possible. Let’s get started!

What Are The New Rules For A UK Student Visa?

new uk visa rules

Brexit has most certainly created some confusion among international students who want to study in the UK, or are already studying in the UK.

The points below are going to hopefully clarify the situation for you and eliminate as much confusion as possible!

NON-EU/EEA Students

  • It depends on the length of your studies, but non-EU/EEA students need to apply for a Short-Term Study Visa or a General Student Visa (Tier 4 Student Visa.)
  • If you’re unsure, check out this online tool on the UK Government website to see if you’ll need a visa in the UK.

EU/EEA And Swiss Students

  • If you’ve arrived in the UK before the 31st December 2020, you won’t need a visa.
  • If you arrive in the UK on or after the 1st January 2021, you may need a visa.
  • For those who have started their studies before 31st December 2020 and want to carry on studying past 1st January 2021, you’ll need to apply for a settlement scheme before the 30th June 2021.
  • If you’re from Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein these rules may also apply to you, but it’s best to check what visa regulations apply to you.

Can International Students Stay In The UK After Graduation?


You might be wondering once you’ve graduated if you’re able to stay in the UK? Well…we’ve got some fantastic news for you!

With the new Graduate Route visa, students that are set to graduate in summer 2021 will be able to stay in the country for up to 2 years.

This fabulous new rule will apply to those both studying a bachelor’s and master’s degree, regardless of your particular area of study.

Students will be pleased to know that there are no restrictions on the type of job you can do in these 2 years, giving you a bit of freedom when building up your CV!

What Are The Visa Rules For EU Students?

new uk visa rules for eu students

To put it into context, on the 19th February 2020, the government published some information on the new UK’s new points-based immigration system.

Students will be covered by the points system and will get the points if they can show an offer from an approved educational institution, speak English and support themselves during studies.

For EU students, you will have to check if you need a UK visa if you want to study in the UK from the 1st January 2021.

This is because you won’t be eligible for the EU Settlement Scheme, unless you were living in the UK before December 31st 2020.

English Tests For Visa Application

english tests for visa application

For visa or citizenship applications, you’ll need to pass a SELT (Secure English Language Test).

In order for your results to be accepted, your test needs to…

  • Be on the list of approved English language tests.
  • Have been sat at an approved test location.
  • Have been awarded in the two years before the date of your application.

There are plenty of popular English tests for international students bound to get you your visa, the main ones being IELTS, TOEFL® iBT and C1 Advanced test.

We’d have to recommend the IELTS as being one of the most popular choices, as it’s accepted by more than 11,000 universities and has a 2-year expiry date.

It’s also a really convenient test as it’s offered at local test centres near you on a computer and you can get your results back fairly quickly.

The C1 Advanced test is known for being one of the most challenging English tests, but it lasts a lifetime!

In terms of which English Test to go for, it really is down to you and your preferences, but whichever one you go for, you basically need it for your visa.

Check out our blog for more detail on the English Tests, how they’re formatted, and advice on short-term language schools.

Tips When Applying For A Student Visa

student visa application new uk visa rules

We know that applying for a student visa can be incredibly stressful, if not the most stressful process of the studying abroad adventure!

You really need to follow the requirements diligently, and make sure there’s no room for errors or clumsy mistakes.

The last thing you want is to have difficulty entering the UK right before your studies to put a real damper on the situation ☹

So, we have a few tips for you to follow to make sure that you’re nice and prepared for the next chapter of your life in a new country!

Get English Test Scores Prepared

Firstly, make sure that you have your English Language Proficiency test scores prepared and to hand, you don’t want to lose them!

You need to ensure that your test scores are still valid at the time of your visa application, as mentioned previously, IELTS lasts for two years.

Apply Early

The visa itself is going to take a fair bit of time to process, and of course, if your visa isn’t ready in time you won’t be able to enter your country of choice.

Some websites do give you an estimated time for visa processing, but it’s always worth being extra prepared anyway.

You really don’t want to end up being super stressed a week before you should be flying out to the United Kingdom because you’re still awaiting your results!

Photocopy Important Documents

So, this may seem a little boring and unnecessary, but trust us…it really isn’t! Photocopying important documents is vital just in case they get misplaced for any reason.

Documents like your passport and national ID card should have backup precautions, and digital copies are probably necessary too when traveling overseas.

Make Sure You Have Enough Money

Students need to make sure that they have enough money to be ready to pay for your course for up to one academic year.

You’ll also need to show you generally have enough money to support yourself (unless you’ve been in the UK with a valid visa for at least 12 months on the date of your application.)

Find out more information on the money you’ll need on the government website

Remain Calm

We know it’s easier said than done, but it really is best to just remain calm in situations like this – it’ll do you good!

As long as you’ve got everything you require and the important documents in place (including backups) there’s no real reason you could be denied a visa.

Just keep a positive mental attitude, look forward to your new adventure and pay attention to the new UK visa rules!

We hope you found these tips about the new UK visa rules useful, it’s a very exciting time for international students and we want to make sure you’re nice and prepared.

If you’re still looking for some luxury accommodation with plenty of space and privacy, take a look at our student living options in some amazing cities – you won’t regret it!