Visas and Immigration

Please be aware that UKVI visa policy is subject to change, and changes often. You should also check the UK Government’s Visas and Immigration page for the most up-to-date information. This is particularly important given the current Covid-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic, as the advice changes rapidly and in accordance to the ever-changing situation.

Generally speaking, if you are normally resident outside of the UK, and you do not hold UK citizenship you will require a Student Visa in order to enter the UK as a student. You will need to have made an application for a visa and be granted entry clearance as a student before travelling to the UK.

Entry clearance to the UK as a student is granted via the Points Based system. Points are awarded for having been provided with a Confirmation of Acceptance of Studies (CAS) by the institution you intend to study at once you hold an unconditional offer, with further points awarded for meeting maintenance requirements.

Further to this:

  • You must hold an Unconditional Offer to study a Full-Time course
  • You must be able to demonstrate your ability to follow the course (via your academic record and command of the English language)
  • You must be able to demonstrate that you have enough money to meet the total costs of your study.

If you believe this may apply to you and hold an offer to study here at The Courtauld, you will need to undertake take the following steps in order to apply for visa outside of the UK, though further, detailed information will be provided upon receipt of your CAS:

General Guidance

Covid-19

Visa Application Centres are beginning to reopen. Reopening of VACs is subject to local conditions. This remains a fluid situation, and UKVI continue to review daily. To ensure you always have the most up to date information on which VACs are open, please check the relevant links via the UK Government website.

Please note, the UKVI will not initially be offering priority or super priority services. This will be kept under review.

Please check our Covid-19 page for up-to-date information regarding our plans and advice relating to the pandemic.

Student Visas prior to October 2020

On 5th October 2020 the Tier 4 visa route was replaced by a new visa route, simply called “Student Visa”.  If you hold a ‘old’ Tier 4 visa, it remains valid and continues with exactly the same conditions and rights as before.

Read through up-to-date guidance on the UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA) website

The UKCISA website is an invaluable resource for up-to-date guidance on visa and immigration related matters. We advise reading through their guidance thoroughly before deciding to travel to the UK to study as an international student.

Conduct a self-assessment to see what (if any) visa you require

A self-assessment can be undertaken via the UK Government’s Visas and Immigration website.

If your course is six months or fewer in duration (eg. if you are studying abroad for one term or will be an occasional student), you will not always require a Student Visa.

Confirmation of the Acceptance of Studies (CAS) and Student Visa application

Once you hold an unconditional offer, and once within 3 months prior to the start of the programme, we will begin to issue CAS. Once you receive your CAS, you should apply using the UK Government’s Visas and Immigration website under the Points Based System Form for a Student Visa.

You will be required to go to a specified centre and provide bio-metric details – as such it is advised to make arrangements to apply for the visa and comply with any requirements well in advance. You will typically be required to send your application to your nearest British Embassy or Consulate – as processing times can vary greatly, do ensure you allow for enough time.

You cannot apply for a visa more than 3 months prior to the start of the programme – doing so will result in your visa being automatically refused.

Documents required for a visa application

As per UKVI guidance, you may be required to provide the following as part of your visa application:

  • a valid passport, and any old passports that were used to travel to the UK previously
  • two recent passport photographs
  • application fee
  • your CAS number
  • evidence used to obtain your offer of a place at the Courtauld (for example: original transcripts or certificates) as listed in your CAS. Your CAS should state whether or not you are required to include evidence of having taken a Secure English Language Test (SELT)
  • evidence that you can afford your fees and maintenance as per UKVI requirements
  • nationals of some countries are required to obtain a certificate confirming they are free from tuberculosis. You must ensure you get this before applying for your visa. More information can be found on the UKVI website
  • nationals of some countries are considered to be “low risk nationals”. Please see: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/300949/Appendix_H.pdf . If you are a low risk national applying in your country of origin you may not need to supply your financial and academic documents at the time of application, but still should adhere and have the required documents available, as you may be asked to supply financial evidence at a later date.
  • NHS surcharge

Once your visa is approved - entry vignette and visa grant letter

You will be issued with a visa grant letter and an entry vignette sticker once your visa application has been approved. The entry vignette will be provided in your passport – this will allow you to travel to the UK within a 30-day period. After arriving in the UK you will need to collect your Biometrics Residence Permit (BRP) – which is in effect your Student Visa – from the UK post office selected on your application form at the application stage. This must typically be done within 10 days.

You must check the information (as indicated below) on both your entry vignette sticker and visa grant letter carefully and contact the issuing embassy if you suspect that a mistake has been made. If this problem results will delay your arrival/enrolment, please let us know immediately.

We recommend that you take a photocopy of your entry vignette sticker, visa grant letter and the information page of passport and store this is a safe place.

After receiving your Entry Vignette and Visa Grant Letter you should check the following:

  • that the end date is what is expected – you should be granted a visa for the length of the course plus an additional 4 months if your course lasts for more than 12 months, the length of the course plus 2 months if the course lasts for between 6 and 12 months, and the length of the course plus one week if your course lasts for less than 6 months
  • that it includes the Courtauld’s licence number of B57DU3E99 – you will not be able to enrol if this number is incorrect
  • that it includes the correct work conditions – ie. “20 hours a week”
  • that all your personal details are correct.

Information should be consistent throughout your Entry Vignette, Visa Grant Letter and BRP (details below).

Biometric Residence Permit (BRP)

Should your visa application be successful, you will be issued a temporary entry vignette in your passport valid for 30 days only from the date you intend to enter the UK.  Upon entering the UK you will be required to collect your BRP within 10 days of arrival. The BRP functions as your visa document representing your right to be in the UK.

As students cannot enrol without their BRP, it is essential that you plan to arrive in the UK in advance of your enrolment in order to allow enough time to collect your BRP.

Once you have your BRP:

You should contact UKVI immediately to resolve these issues if there are any mistakes on your BRP once you have picked it up: https://www.gov.uk/biometric-residence-permits/report-problem

Issues might include:

  • unable to collect their permit within 10 working days of arriving in the United Kingdom;
  • need someone to either collect their BRP on their behalf or accompany them to collect their BRP – because they are have a serious illness or disability, or they are under 18 and cannot collect their permit at the same time as their parent or legal guardian collects their own permit;
  • lost their permit or it has been stolen; or
  • identify a mistake on their permit.

Replacing a BRP could prove particularly costly.  Please read the information on the above website thoroughly and ensure you replace your BRP in the time allotted – failure to do so could result in a £1,000 fine.

Brexit and new laws for EU, EAA and Swiss Nationals

The UK left the EU on the 31 January 2020. We left under the terms of the Withdrawal Agreement, with separate agreements made with EEA and with Switzerland. Under these agreements, the UK entered a transitional period until the 31 December 2020. During the transitional period, EU, EEA and Swiss nationals could come to the UK on the same basis as before the UK left the EU.

The Brexit transition period ended at 11pm on 31st December 2020, and subsequently any EU, EEA and Swiss nationals wishing to remain in the UK now need to ensure that they apply for the relevant immigration permission to remain in the UK to continue or commence their studies at The Courtauld.

Students with Pre-Settled or Settled Status

If you hold a relevant status under the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS) you will be able to continue to live, work and study in the UK without restrictions whilst you hold valid Pre-Settled/Settled Status.

Presuming you hold valid Pre-settled/Settled status, you will not be required to take any further action to regulate your immigration permission to be in the UK, though be aware that we will require evidence of your status at enrolment.

Pre-Settled Status

Pre-settled status is granted to EU/EEA/Swiss Nationals who have lived in the UK for less than a continuous period of five years. Pre-Settled Status is valid for 5 years and allows you to study, live and work in the UK. Once you have been in the UK for 5 years, you will then be eligible to apply to switch to Settled Status if you wish to, as long as you meet the 5 years’ continuous residence requirement, also known as ‘continuous qualifying period’. (Annex 1 – Definitions – for CQP)

Qualifying for Settled status later:

If you are hoping to be eligible to apply for Settled Status later, you should ensure that any absences from the UK are “permitted absences”.  Permitted absences are up to a total of 6 months (including lots of short trips) within a 12-month period, or 1 continuous absence which is less than 12 months and for an important reason (e.g. study, work, ill health, pregnancy).

Maintaining your Pre-settled status:

If you are absent from the UK for longer than a permitted absence and less than 2 years, you should still retain your Pre-settled status, but may no longer be eligible to apply for settled status at a later date.

‘Pre-settled’ status will be lost after a continuous absence of more than two years from the UK.

Limited Leave to Remain:

Pre-settled status is valid for 5 years, and is regarding as Limited Leave to Remain. This means that before the expiry date, you must either apply for Settled status if eligible, apply for a different immigration permission, or leave the UK. If you remain in the UK once this has expired, you will have no immigration permission to remain in the UK, and will become an ‘overstayer’ – overstaying is an illegal status.

Settled Status

Settled Status is granted to EU/EEA/Swiss nationals who have lived in the UK for 5 or more years and meet the UKVI continuous qualifying period criteria. (living in the UK for a continuous 5-year period and not been absent from the UK for either more than 6 months in a 12-month period and/or one instance of up to 12 months absence for an ‘important’ reason)

The ‘continuous qualifying period’ needed to begin before 31 December 2020.

Maintaining your Settled status: 

Settled status is the equivalent of indefinite leave to remain. However, you will lose your Settled status if absent from the UK for more than 5 consecutive years (for Swiss nationals Settled status will be lost after a continuous period of 4 years).

Students outside the UK

If you were not resident in the UK by 11pm on 31st December 2020, have not yet arrived in the UK, and are studying a programme at The Courtauld longer than 6 months, you will be required to apply for a Student Visa in advance of travelling to the UK, details of which are documented elsewhere on this page.

Study Abroad / Programmes lasting 6 months or less

Study Abroad students studying in the UK for 6 months or less will not be issued a CAS in support of a Student Visa – you will instead need to independently apply for a visitor visa. The previous ‘Short-term Study Visa’ was discontinued on 1 December 2020.

Dependants

If your programme lasts 12 months or longer, you may be eligible to bring dependants with you. The UKCISA guidance on dependants clarifies what a dependant is, your eligibility and how to apply to bring dependants with you.

UK Healthcare and NHS surcharge

As an international student it is important that you take the time to consider how you will access health care whilst in the UK. Access will be different depending on the length of your programme, your status as a Home, EU/EEA or Overseas student and whether or not you require a visa.

A Tier 4 visa student will typically be required to pay the NHS surcharge. To calculate your fee, you can use the Immigration Health Surcharge tool at https://www.immigration-health-surcharge.service.gov.uk/checker/Type. The Home Office website will check how much you will have to pay.

If you do not pay the IHS your application will be refused. The Home Office may contact you and request payment before refusing your application for this reason but you should not rely on this happening.

Note: As of 6 April 2016, Australian and New Zealand nationals are now subject to the NHS Surcharge.  However, British Overseas Territory citizens who live in the Falkland Islands are exempt. See the UKVI for up-to-date information about who does and who does not have to complete the IHS.

Contact the Admissions Team if you have any issues

If you have any questions about your visa status, please do contact us at ugadmissions@courtauld.ac.uk or pgadmissions@courtauld.ac.uk as appropriate.

Contacting us is particularly important when you receive your passport and visa back from the British Embassy or Consulate – it is vitally important that you check all the information on your Biometric Residency Permit to ensure there are no mistakes. Should there be any errors on any correspondence from the British Embassy or Consulate processing your visa application it is advised to contact us immediately.

You should be in the UK no later than 24 September 2021 ahead of the 2021/2 academic year.

 

The above represents only an outline of the process. Full guidance on the visa process can be found on the UKCISA website. Details on how a visa application differs when applying within the UK for Leave to Remain – which can only be undertaken under certain circumstances – can also be found on the UKCISA website.

The Courtauld Institute of Art reserves the right to refuse to sponsor your study and issue you a CAS.

If you have any questions about your visa status, please do contact us at ugadmissions@courtauld.ac.uk or pgadmissions@courtauld.ac.uk as appropriate.

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