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16th Sep 2020

UK announces early opening of new international student immigration route

Short on time? Here are the highlights:
  • With many international students deferring study abroad until the spring of 2021, the UK government has opened a new immigration route for students ahead of plan – it will open in October 2020 instead of January 2021
  • Both EU and non-EU students will apply for visas using the Student Route and Child Student Route

The UK government has announced that an immigration route for international students that was planned to open in January 2021 will now open on 5 October 2020. The Student Route and Child Student Route is a streamlined visa application process that is part of the UK’s new points-based immigration system. “The new Student route improves on the previous Tier 4 route by making it more streamlined for sponsoring institutions and their students, [and] creating clearer pathways for students,” explains a Home Office statement.

The route was opened early in part because of the many students who, because of COVID-19, have deferred their study plans until spring 2021. The move comes on the heels of significant efforts by the UK government to open up borders as much as possible to international students this summer.

To be granted a visa under the new immigration route, international students must achieve 70 points, earned through receiving an offer from a UK school or university, being able to speak English, and being prepared to support themselves financially during their studies in the UK. “Launching the Student route early sends a clear message to the world we want the best and brightest to come to the UK to study at our globally renowned education institutions,” said Minister for Future Borders and Immigration Kevin Foster.

Both non-EU and EU students will be able to use the Student route, and with no limit on the number of visas available. This is in line with the government’s 2019 International Education Strategy and its goal of enrolling 600,000 international students in UK higher education by 2030.

Chief Executive of the Russell Group Dr Tim Bradshaw said of the new route:

“We welcome these changes to the immigration rules, which will help to ensure the UK remains an internationally attractive place for the best and brightest students to study. We will continue to work with the government to ensure our visa system remains flexible and responsive to developing issues, such as those emerging from the coronavirus pandemic."

And Cardiff University’s Vice-Chancellor Professor Colin Riordan said:

“The new arrangements will send a clear message that we have the support of our government to welcome talented students from across the world to come and study with us.”

For additional background, please see:

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