Who Needs To Apply For A Visa For Their Study Abroad Semester In The United Kingdom:
- Students doing a work placement (internship) in the UK
- Students doing work study in the UK
- Students doing community service or volunteering in the UK
- Students getting a part-time job while in the UK (no more than 20 hours of work per week)
- Visa Nationals (Non-Americans, click this link and follow the link at the bottom of the page asking, "Are you a visa national?" to find out if you are a Visa National in the UK)
- Students intending to study in the UK for more than 6 months
This can be quite confusing so to help you understand it a bit better, we've come up with a flow chart for fall 2013 students which you can find in the featured document box on the right side of this page.
Immigration into the United Kingdon is overseen by the UK Border Agency (UKBA). They offer two routes for American students coming over to Britain for study abroad semesters. A student's route of entry depends on whether he or she wishes to take advantage of the opportunity to work, paid or unpaid, while studying in the UK, and the length of his or her stay in the UK. If a student wishes to do a work placement (internship), obtain a part-time job, do work study, volunteer or do community service he or she MUST obtain a Tier 4: (General) Student visa prior to arrival. Whether paid or unpaid, American students in the UK MUST have a visa to work or volunteer. Applying for a visa is a multi stage process which can be started up to three months before the beginning of the semester abroad. Currently students studying in the UK on a Tier 4 visa can do up to 20 hours per week of paid or voluntary work. Students on Tier 4 visas doing work placements must also not exceed 50 percent of their study time in the UK working at their placements. Further explanation about Tier 4 rules and the application process is made available to students at orientation sessions both in Ithaca and London.
The second route available to American students coming over to the UK on study abroad programs for six months or less is as a Student Visitor. To be eligible to enter as a Student Visitor students must not be doing a work placement, must not be intending to do work study or get a part-time job and must not be intending to perform any kind of voluntary work or community service. If you are part of a scholarship program, or any other type of program, which requires you to perform community service or volunteer work each semester, even while you are abroad, you MUST obtain a Tier 4 visa to do this and cannot enter as a Student Visitor. Though Student Visitors may not work or volunteer while they are abroad, there is no fee to pay for a visa and no pre-entry application process.
If you are an international student coming to study at the ICLC (non-American citizens), please check this link learn more about whether you need a visa to study in the UK. Students who hold passports from European Union and European Economic Community countries do not need visas or to enter the UK as Student Visitors. These students do not have work or length of stay restrictions.
Students applying for Tier 4: (General) Student visas will be required to fill out an online application and a paper application, both provided by the UK Border Agency, and attend a biometrics appointment before they can send all of their documents to the British Consulate. Students will also need to submit their passport information and some personal details to the London Center for their Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS). Your CAS is an electronic document in the form of a unique reference code which each student needs for his or her Tier 4 visa application and can only be obtained through the ICLC. In order to apply for the CAS you will need to have in your possession the passport you will be using to travel. If you need to renew your passport, please do so before you apply for the CAS. If however you have an up to date passport and will not need to make any changes, please complete this CAS Information Form at the bottom of this page.
To ease the process, the ICLC staff have created templates with most of the information students need to complete their visa applications, as well as being available by email (firstname.lastname@example.org) to answer questions as they arise. These templates will be emailed to visa applicants around the first day that they are eligible to begin applying. Students applying to come to London during the fall semester may begin the application process in May. We recommend you apply as early as possible as the summer months are the consulate's busiest in their visa section. Students coming to London for the spring may begin the process in October. We also recommend beginning as early as possible as the consulate closes during the holiday period. Summer students may begin the application process after orientation in the spring. If time becomes tight, expediting your application is an option to ensure that you receive it in time, though this does incur an extra fee.