International students from Europe, UK and Ireland can now enter the US
A plane from Delta airline is seen above the skyline of Manhattan before it lands at JFK airport on March 15, 2020 in New York City. – Source: Johannes Eisele/AFP
Despite escalating COVID-19 cases in the US, international students from Europe, UK, and Ireland are now allowed to enter the country.
The decision comes a few days after the Trump administration dropped a controversial rule to deport international students enrolled in online-only programmes this fall.
The US State Department told congressional offices last Thursday that international students from Europe, as well as those from UK and Ireland who already have visas to study in the US, are exempted from travel bans to the country.
This latest announcement appears to be part of the US government’s plan to gradually reopen international borders in the US after months of travel restrictions.
According to the US State Department website, “Granting national interest exceptions for this travel to the US from the Schengen area, UK, and Ireland, will assist with the economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and bolster key components of our transatlantic relationship.”
Here’s what you should know about this latest update.
Who is exempt?
If you aren’t sure if you’re allowed to enter the US, check your visa status. For now, those on valid F-1 and M-1 student visas from certain countries are allowed to travel to the US without seeking a national interest exception.
According to the State Department website, “Students travelling from the Schengen Area, the UK, and Ireland with valid F-1 and M-1 visas, do not need to seek a national interest exception to travel. Students from those areas who are travelling on a J-1 may contact the nearest embassy or consulate to initiate an exception request.”
“Certain business travelers, investors, treaty traders, academics, and students may qualify for National Interest Exceptions under Presidential Proclamations (PPs) 9993 (Schengen Area) and 9996 (United Kingdom and Ireland). Qualified business and student travellers who are applying for or have valid visas or ESTA authorisation may travel to the US even as PPs 9993 and 9996 remain in effect.”
Countries in the Schengen area include: Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.
International students from Europe, UK, and Ireland can soon pack their bags and fly back to the US. Source: Johannes Eisele/AFP
Can you apply for a new student visa?
The latest announcement has clarified that if you’re from these countries and already holding a US visa, you will be allowed back in the US.
There is, however, no official news yet whether international students from Europe, UK, and Ireland hoping to begin their studies in the US will be able to secure new visas.
Still, visa application centres are slowly reopening around the world, so check with them or your local US embassy if you’re now able to apply for a student visa in the US.
Will international students from Europe, UK and Ireland be quarantined?
There is no official guidance yet over whether international students from Europe, UK, and Ireland will have to undergo mandatory quarantine when they enter US.
It is likely that they will have to self-isolate for two weeks, according to recommendations by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Does the travel exemption work both ways?
Although the European Union has started lifting travel bans for those from “safe countries,” Americans are still unable to travel to Europe due to rising cases in the country.
Visitors can still enter the UK and Ireland, but they must agree to self-isolate for two weeks.
Bringing Your Family to The UK on a Student Visa
Studying abroad in the UK is surely an exciting experience. But sooner or later you’re going to miss your family members and everything you’ve left back home. Studying can be stressful from time to time and seeing your parents and other family members might offer you some much-needed relief.
Fortunately, you can bring your family members in the UK on your Tier 4 student visa. Here’s everything you need to know about how you can get to see your family members in the UK while studying there.
Who is eligible?
There are some legal requirements that you need to satisfy to be allowed to bring someone in the UK on your student visa.
You’re eligible to invite family members to join you in the UK for a certain period of time on your Tier 4 student visa if the following conditions are met:
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- You’re studying at the postgraduate level.
- Your degree course is full-time and takes at least 9 months to be completed.
- You’re attending a study program 6 months or longer, which is funded by the UK government or a foreign government.
- You’re a PhD graduate holding visa under the Doctorate Extension Scheme.
Note that if your studying for an Advanced Diploma you’re not eligible to apply to bring a family member on a Tier 4 visa.
Only a few relatives you can bring in the UK under the Tier 4 Dependant visa. The definition of a dependant is determined through existing laws in the UK.
These family members are eligible to apply for Tier 4 Dependant visa in the UK
- Your spouse, wife or a civil partner
- Your relationship partner
- Your children aged under 18 including those who were born in the UK while you’re were residing there.
If you want to extend your Tier 4 visa to further stay in the UK, your children aged over 18 are also eligible to apply for an extension as your dependants. For details concerning this issue, it is recommended that you reach the International Office at your university in the UK or the Home Office.
Of course, if your wife, spouse or girlfriend/boyfriend is applying for a Tier 4 Dependant visa in the UK strong evidence must be provided. If you’re married this can be done by submitting marriage certificates and other related documents if required. On the other hand, partners who don’t have a regulated civil status have to intend to live together during the whole time they spend in the UK.
In general, if children want to apply for a Tier 4 Dependant visa both of his parents must be living in the UK or are going to do so in the near future. There are surely exemptions to this rule. If for whatever reasons both parents don’t live in the UK, the one who does is required from immigration authorities to provide strong and reliable reasons as per why is important for him/her to have his/her children close. If for example, parents are divorced the one living in the UK must prove he/she is responsible for the child.
How to apply for Tier 4 Dependant Visa?
Your family members cannot apply for a Tier 4 Dependant visa until you have been granted your student visa in the UK. Similarly, if you’re in the process of extending your stay in the UK on a Tier 4 visa, your dependants have to wait until you receive a response about your application.
Your dependants can apply for a Tier 4 Dependant visa online. There is an application for each dependant.
To apply for a Tier 4 Dependant visa your dependants must present the following documents:
- Their Passport.
- A Tuberculosis certificate.
- Proof of your relationship (for instance if they’re your husband or your wife they have to submit the marriage certificate).
- Proof you have been granted a student visa beforehand.
At first, they will be issued a temporary residence permit in the UK for 30 days. Once they enter the UK they must have to make an appointment at the closest UK Visa and Citizenship Application Services (UKVCAS) for collecting their biometric information to authenticate their identity.
Biometric information contains some of your personal data including name, date, place of birth, immigration status, your accessibility on public funds like health services and also your fingerprints and a facial image.
In case you want to extend your visa or switch to another type of UK visas, you and your dependants are required to apply at the same time. If for whatever reason this is not possible, your dependants must wait for your application to be processed so they apply for their dependant visa.
How Much Does it Cost to Get a Tier 4 Dependant Visa in the UK?
Every dependant applying for a Tier 4 dependant visa must pay:
- ₤475 for the visa (₤348 for dependants who apply outside the UK).
- An additional yearly healthcare charge (around ₤300).
- Around 20 to get a biometric residence permit.
In normal conditions, your dependants have to wait for up to 8 weeks to receive a decision about their visa application. However, you can pay 500 for a priority service or 800 for a super-priority service. If you go for the former you Tier 4 dependant visa application will be processed within 5 working days while if you pick the super-priority service it will take at maximum two days to receive a decision.
If you want to bring your family members in the UK on your student visa they must prove to have proper financial resources to afford the cost of living in the UK otherwise their visa will be rejected. Your personal funds cannot be provided as evidence they possess required funds to go to the UK. The amount of money they have to own varies according to how long is your course, at which part of the UK your studying in and whether you’re currently studying in the or have already completed a degree course.
How much money your dependants must have to be issued a Tier 4 Dependant visa?
Your dependant must have at least ₤680 each month to a maximum of 9 months. If you do the math it turns they need at least ₤6,120 for their visa to be granted. Nevertheless, it is recommended for them to collect more funds because chances to get the visa would then be higher
A bank statement which testifies the money belongs to the person in question is sufficient proof of financial resources. Make sure those funds have been deposited at least 28 days before getting the document.
An important note: If you’re studying in the UK on a scholarship or a similar grant, it is possible for you to provide financial coverage for your dependants as long as this is allowed from your sponsor. In that situation, immigration authorities in the UK will require you a document from your scholarship provider which confirms the amount of money they do offer you to cover your dependants. If that amount is not sufficient you need to provide additional funds.
9 tips for international students moving to the UK
Are you an international student coming to the UK to study? We know it can be overwhelming, especially if it’s your first time at uni. Studies show that most overseas students are undergraduates, so there’s a good chance this is you!
From visas to tuition fees, health insurance to bank accounts, there’s a lot for international students to know about student life in the UK. So, we’ve broken it down in this step-by-step guide.
International student checklist
Here are all the things you need to know about studying in the UK as an international student:
Plan your funding and research scholarships
Our first piece of advice for international students in the UK is to make sure you have the money to fund your degree.
The funding available to you depends on where you’re from in the world and the date you start uni.
Previously, students from Europe were able to access Student Finance the same way UK students can. Then Brexit happened.
EU students, students from the EEA and Swiss students
This means that, unless individual unis set their own fees for EU students, new (not continuing) EU/EEA students who started uni in the UK on 1st August 2021 or later must pay the same fees as students coming from outside Europe.
It’s slightly different for EU/EEA students who enrolled at a UK uni before the academic year 2021/22. They are still eligible for Student Finance in the UK, so their tuition fees are covered by a loan. You can find more info in our guide to Student Finance for EU students.
Students from outside Europe coming to the UK
Other than in some limited cases, students from outside the EU have never been eligible for Student Finance in the UK.
If this is you, you’ll have to fund your degree yourself. You’ll also have to pay higher fees than what UK students pay. This could be anything from £10,000 – £35,000 a year.
And don’t forget: as part of your visa application, you’ll need to provide evidence that you can cover this cost, as well as your living expenses.
If you don’t have the money to pay for yourself, there are other options available. Our guide to international student funding and scholarships covers loads of funds you might be eligible for. You could also look into education loans or exchange programmes.
Organise your student visa
Credit: Megan Eaves – Flickr
As an international student coming to the UK, you might need to apply for a visa, depending on which country you’re from.
EU students, students from the EEA and Swiss students
On 1st January 2021, things changed for students from the EU, the EEA and Switzerland coming to the UK.
Until 31st December 2020, these students didn’t need a visa to live and study in the UK.
If you were living in the UK before 31st December 2020, you were able to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme. This allows you to work, study and access benefits and services on broadly the same basis as you could before Brexit.
If you moved to the UK after 31st December 2020, you need to use the following information on student visas.
Students from outside Europe coming to the UK
If you’re from a country outside the EU/EEA (excluding Switzerland), you’ve always needed a visa to study in the UK.
If you’ll be studying in the UK for less than six months, you’ll need a Standard Visitor visa. You can’t work in the UK if you have this visa, unless it’s an elective (an optional placement as part of a medicine, dentistry or veterinary medicine course). If you want to work during your stay, you’ll need to apply for a Student visa (more on this below).
You can also apply for a Short-term study visa if:
- Your course is between six and 11 months (but no longer)
- You’re 16 or over
- You’ll be studying an English language course. This means a course where you’ll be learning about the English language, not just a course taught in English.
Standard Visitor visas cost £95 and Short-term study visas cost £186.
If your course lasts for longer than six months (or less than six months, but you want to work), you’ll need a Student visa. This has replaced the Tier 4 student visa.
These are some of the documents you’ll need for your student visa application:
- Confirmation of Acceptance of Studies (CAS) – This is a 14-digit reference number you’ll receive from your uni once you accept your offer.
- Proof of finances – You’ll need to prove that you have enough money to pay for your first year of tuition fees. On top of this, you need to prove you have £1,023 (£1,334 for those studying in London) per month for up to nine months to cover your living expenses. This can either be through self-funding, an official sponsorship or an education loan.
- English language skills – You’ll have to prove you meet the minimum level of English language proficiency, usually by taking a Secure English Language Test (SELT).
The Student visa costs £348 if you’re applying from outside the UK, or £475 if you’re in the UK and want to extend or switch to this visa.
You may have to pay a healthcare surcharge as part of your visa application. This costs £235 for six months or £470 for the whole year, and allows you to use the NHS.
If you’re applying for a student visa from outside the UK, you can apply up to six months before you start your course. You have three months if you’re applying from inside the UK (and you must apply before your current visa expires).
Prepare for British life
Culturally, the UK is diverse and welcoming of people from all around the world. All unis have plenty of international students, and most have societies to help you meet like-minded people and those from similar backgrounds.
We also recommend searching for Facebook groups related to your uni. They often have groups specifically for international students in the UK, so you can discuss any questions you have and even make friends before you arrive.
In case you weren’t aware, the UK is known for its cold and wet weather. Pack lots of warm clothes and a waterproof coat for the winter months, and don’t expect summer to be too hot too often.
Sort your student accommodation
You’ll want to get your accommodation sorted before you land in the UK. The last thing you want is to turn up and have nowhere to stay.
Your first port of call should be your university itself. They generally offer guarantees to house all students who apply before a certain date.
Most students either live in uni accommodation (called ‘halls of residence’, or ‘halls’ for short) or rent a room from a private landlord.
Living in halls is best for your first year of study, as it removes the trouble of trying to find a suitable room elsewhere. Some unis have halls specifically for international students to help you make friends easily.
These are either self-catered (meaning you have access to a shared kitchen to cook your own meals) or catered (meaning your meals are provided at a canteen). If you’re looking to save some money, self-catered is by far the cheaper option. We have loads of student recipes and even a student meal plan to help you develop your culinary skills.
Unlike American universities, most rooms in halls and private housing are single occupancy. This means you have a whole room to yourself.
If you’re not interested in halls, and you’d prefer to do the house hunt yourself, head to our student letting agents directory to find houses in your area. You should also read our guide to viewing student houses, so you know what to watch out for.
And if you’re not sure where you want to live, check out our guide comparing student halls and student houses.
Make sure you have health insurance
Credit: Francis Tyers – Wikimedia
International students need to prove they have health insurance to cover any healthcare they need while in the UK. This is how it’s done:
EU students, students from the EEA and Swiss students
If you’re from the EU, the EEA or Switzerland and you came to the UK before 31st December 2020, you’ll need a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). This entitles you to free or reduced healthcare from the National Health Service (NHS) while you’re in the UK.
If you don’t have one, it’s as simple as applying for one through your home country’s national health insurance provider.
You can still access healthcare using your EHIC if you’re an EU national who was living in the UK before the end of 2020. However, you should have applied to the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS) to protect your right to free healthcare in the UK.
If you’re from the EU and started living in the UK after 31st December 2020, the following information applies to you.
Students from outside Europe coming to the UK
If you’re a student from a country outside the EU, EEA or Switzerland, you’ll have to pay the health surcharge as part of your visa application. This gives you access to the NHS during your stay here. You can find more information on this here.
Also check any health insurance you already have. This may cover you while you’re abroad.
Set up a student bank account
If you’re staying in the UK for longer than a few months, we recommend opening a bank account.
This makes it easier to pay bills and keep your money safe. It also helps you avoid the foreign currency charges you’d pay if you used a non-UK bank account to pay for things in Britain.
Opening a bank account can be a lengthy process, as banks need lots of information to verify your identity and credit rating.
Check whether you’re able to get the ball rolling from your home country to save time. Also look into whether your current bank has any links to UK banks, as this should make the process smoother.
Student bank accounts are a great option, but not all banks offer student bank accounts to international students.
Instead, check out our guide to the best UK international student bank accounts. Use our list as a starting point to find an account that suits you.
Work out the cheapest way to make international calls
If you’re wondering whether your current phone will work in the UK, the answer is probably: yes.
There are two types of cellular frequencies: the GSM band and the CDMA band.
The UK operates on the same GSM band as most of the world. But if you’re coming from Japan or North/South America, your phone may not work in the UK, so this is worth checking. If your phone only supports the CDMA band, there’s a chance it won’t work in the UK.
If your phone doesn’t work here, it might be worth selling it for cash and buying a new one. Check out our guide to buying a refurbished phone for the best deals.
However, the worst thing you can do is keep your current SIM card in your phone while studying in the UK. You’ll pay extremely high charges for calling abroad, as well as local numbers.
Save money calling local numbers
If you already have a mobile phone then you’ll need a new SIM card.
With a Pay As You Go (PAYG) SIM, you’ll need to top up your phone with credit. This is a good way to monitor your spending, but it is frustrating if your credit runs out at an awkward time.
Monthly contracts are often better value, as you’ll usually get unlimited minutes and texts. What’s more, you can get one-month rolling contracts. This means you can cancel your plan at short notice and move elsewhere. See our guide to the best SIM-only deals for more info.
Note that if you bought it back home, you may have to unlock your phone before you start using your new SIM card.
For calling back home
In recent years, lots of low-cost international call providers have emerged, such as Lebara, LycaMobile and RebTel.
Or, you can use services like Zoom, FaceTime and WhatsApp to have audio and video chats for free. Just remember, these rely on you having a WiFi or data connection.
Check out our guide on the cheapest ways to make international calls to compare.
Figure out public transport
Using the public transport system when you first land in a country can be daunting. So, here’s a simple guide.
All cities have a local bus service, which is often the best way of getting around. Figure out how far you’re going to be living from campus, and whether it’s worth buying a student bus pass to save money.
Bigger cities might have a subway system, like the Tube in London or the Metro in Newcastle. See if you can invest in a yearly pass to help keep costs down.
If you’re confident enough, travelling by bike can help you save money while being eco-friendly too.
In the UK for the first time? You’ll probably want to visit a few cities and sights while you’re here. Your two main options are coach or train.
Trains are the quickest and comfiest way to travel the UK. However, you should book tickets as early as possible to save money – check out our guide to saving on train fares.
You’ll also want to buy a 16–25 Railcard or a 26–30 Railcard, which saves you a third on all rail fares. Given how cheap they are, and how expensive tickets can be, you could make your money back in a single journey.
Coaches are a cheaper alternative to trains, but they can take twice as long. Our top pick for saving money is Megabus, with journeys starting at £1 between the major cities.
But if you can’t find a suitable arrival and departure point, try National Express (the largest coach network in the UK). We also have an extensive guide on how to save on coach travel for you to check out.
Know the hours you’re allowed to work
If you want to make money while you’re studying, you need to know what your options and rights to work in the UK are.
With your student visa, you’ll be able to work up to 20 hours per week while studying. You can work full-time during the holidays, as well as before and after your course starts.
But again, it’s different if you have EU settled status. You are free to work as many hours as you wish and can work for as long as you want after graduation.
However, you shouldn’t rely on a part-time job as your main source of income to fund your living costs in the UK.
See what part-time student jobs are available in your uni town.