English UK has received further guidance from the Home Office relating to the recent extension in the use of e-gates at UK airports.
Some non-visa national countries can now use the e-gates, including South Korea, Japan and Singapore. Nationals from these countries are no longer required to speak to a Border Force Officer if they are entering the UK as a visitor, Tier 4 student, or short term student on the 11 month route.
If these students use the e-gates they will not receive the necessary short term study visa stamp in their passport.
There is a risk that students may be incorrectly directed by the border officers to the e-gates. There should be signs at airports but these can easily be missed. Students who already have the visa vignette (sticker) in their passport can use the e-gates.
Unfortunately it is not possible to have a stamp issued once the student has left the airport. Students who have used the e-gates can enrol and study for up to six weeks, or 30 days of study. The Home Office are being flexible, and these students can complete their course without a short term study stamp.
Students who are studying for more than six weeks can start their course without a stamp. However, to continue their course they will need to leave the UK within 30 days, to get the correct short term visa stamp on re-entry (eg. by taking a holiday to Europe; not Ireland).
The Home Office are taking steps to ensure that students are guided through the correct channels but we are concerned that the messaging at airports is not sufficiently clear. English UK has already provided feedback to the Home Office about students being directed to the e-gates and not being offered the option of using the immigration desks. Please let us know if you have students affected by these changes so we can measure the impact.
Please remind your students and agents that short term students still need see a Border Force Officer to receive a stamp in their passports. Don't forget to update your airport arrival instructions.
For more information about UK border arrivals please visit the Home Office website.