Visa and immigration
*** Update from the UKVI regarding remote learning ***
We are offering students who cannot travel to London in September the opportunity to study remotely for Term One, with the understanding that all students will be in London by the start of Term Two in January. The UKVI have confirmed that international students will be able to study remotely on a student visa in Term One, as long as they are in the UK by 22 April 2021. If you are planning on traveling to London for the start of Term One in September, please request your CAS now. If you are not sure please do not request your CAS until you know your intended date of travel.
In this section you will find some basic information about visas and entry into the UK. Further detailed information and guidance is available from our page Making an application for a Student Visa, from UKCISA (UK Council for International Students Affairs), the GOV.UK website or from your local British Embassy, Consulate or High Commission. If you require help to understand any information given here or need further clarification on immigration procedures, email a SOAS Student Advisor (Immigration and Finance) at email@example.com
If you are not a British national, you may need to apply for entry clearance to study in the UK. If you hold a British overseas territories citizenship or you have a British national (overseas) citizenship, you will still likely require a visa to study in the UK.
To find out if you need a visa to study in the UK, please go to GOV.UK website.
If you are from an EU or EEA country or Switzerland and you were resident in the UK before 11pm on 31 December 2020, you may be eligible to apply for settled or pre-settled status under the UK's EU Settlement Scheme. Obtaining settled or pre-settled status will enable you to live, work, study in the UK and access the NHS as you would under the previous free-movement regulations. Information on the EU Settlement scheme can be found on our website.
If you arrive in the UK after 11pm on 31 December 2020, you will need to obtain a Student visa in advance of travelling to the UK if your programme is more than 6 months in duration. The Student visa replaced Tier 4 on 5 October 2020 and is required by all non-UK and Irish nationals studying in the UK for more than 6 months.
Applications for the Student visa can be submitted up to 6 months before your programme start date. Applications for a Student visa require a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) issued by the university you will be studying at (SOAS). To apply you will require a CAS number from SOAS.
To find out if you need a visa to study in the UK, go to GOV.UK website.
Irish nationals are subject to different legislation, meaning that an application under the EU Settlement Scheme is not required and Irish nationals will be able to continue to travel freely to the UK and live without restrictions as they currently do. However, if you are an Irish national and have non-UK/Irish family members you and your family members may need to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme.
See information on the EU Settlement scheme.
Types of visas
There are two relevant categories of student visas:
- Student Visa for programmes lasting more than 6 months
- Standard Visitor Visa for programmes shorter than 6 months in duration
All students coming to study at SOAS for longer than 6 months should apply for a Student visa (above). To apply you will require a CAS from SOAS; see our page Requesting a CAS.
If you are attending a course/programme that lasts for 6 months or less you can enter the UK on a Standard Visitor visa and do not require a CAS. A letter from the School confirming your acceptance on the course will be needed instead.
If you decide to extend your course/programme of study to longer than 6 months you will be required to leave the UK in order to apply for a Student visa from your country of residence. You cannot switch from a Standard Visitor visa to a Student visa from within the UK.
Students in the UK on Standard Visitor visa are not able to work during their time in the UK and do not have access to the NHS so will require private health insurance.
See more information and guidance about applying for the Standard Visitor visa.