Last updated: Tuesday 29 September 2020
If you are planning to study English in the UK, you may need to apply for a student visa. This page will help you understand if you need a visa and what you need to do.
If you need help, you can contact the English UK team for advice.
Some other nationalities do not need a visa to study for up to six months. If you have a passport from a country on the non-visa national list you can visit the UK and study for up to six months without a visa.
What would you like to do?
In 2020, to study English in the UK for six months or less:
Why are the rules changing in 2021? The UK will have a new immigration system in 2021, and the government is making it easier for visitors to study for short periods in 2021. If you come to the UK for tourism on a 'visitor visa', you will be allowed to study as much as you like for up to six months.
Choose an accredited course: From 2021, international students are only allowed to study at an institution that is accredited by one the government-recognised accreditation bodies. You can choose any English UK member centre - all English UK member centres are accredited by the British Council's government-recognised quality assurance scheme, Accreditation UK.
You need a Standard Visitor visa if:
Key facts about Standard Visitor visas:
Does your course starts in 2020? If so, you will need to apply for a Short-term study visa.
If you are over 16 years old you can apply online for a visa to study English in the UK for more than six months.
If you want to study English in the UK for between six and eleven months, you should apply for a Short-term study visa before you travel (for other course types you need a Student visa).
Are you an EU/EEA/Swiss national? If you are starting your course before 31 December 2020 you do not need a visa. From 2021, you need a visa to study for longer than six months.
Key facts about Short-term study visas:
If you want to study English in the UK for more than 11 months, and your course starts in 2021 or later, you will need a Student visa.
Does your course start in 2020? If so, you will need a Tier 4 visa. Find out more about Tier 4 visas.
Are you an EU/EEA/Swiss national? If you are starting your course before 31 December 2020 you do not need a visa. From 2021, you need a visa to study for more than 6 months. If you arrive in 2020 and want to work in the UK after June 2021, you can do so by applying for pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme.
Key facts about Student visas:
From 2021, all international students must study at an education institution which has a government-approved accredition, on the list of recognised accreditation bodies.
If you want to study English for up to 11 months on a Standard Visitor visa or a Short-term study visa, you can choose any English UK member centre - all English UK member centres are accredited by the British Council's government-recognised quality assurance scheme, Accreditation UK.
If you apply for a Student visa to study for longer than 11 months, you will need to choose an institution/ centre that is on the UK government's student sponsor register. If you are not sure, ask the institution or contact the English UK team.
If you have a passport from one of the following countries, you do not need a visa to visit the UK or study for up to six months:
Any EEA countryArgentinaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaAustralia
East TimorEl Salvador
PalauPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguay
Saint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSeychellesSingaporeSolomon IslandsSouth Korea
TaiwanTongaTrinidad and TobagoTuvalu
United States of AmericaUruguay
This list sometimes changes. You can check if you need a visa by using the UK government tool - enter your nationality and how long you want to study, and it will tell you what visa you need.
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.
If you are unclear about this information, please contact the English UK team.