The Government is introducing a new Student Visa route which is to form part of the new Points-Based Immigration System. This new Student route is to replace the current Tier 4 route.

On 10 September 2020, the Government released details of the requirements that applicants must meet in order to apply under these new rules. The details are contained in a document called the Statement of changes to the Immigration Rules (HC 707, 10 September 2020).

For EEA nationals, the new Student route will take effect for applications made in the UK on or after 1 January 2021. EEA nationals outside the UK can apply under this new route from 5 October 2020, for entry to the UK from 1 January 2021.

For all other nationals, this new route is to take effect from 9.00 am on 5 October 2020.

What's new?

What's new?

Definition of a ‘partner’

The definition of a ‘partner’ has been expanded for those permitted to bring dependent partners to the UK. A ‘partner’ now includes a fiancé, or proposed civil partner, which is a new development.


If you, your dependent partner, or dependent child have been living in the UK for 12 months or more at the time of your application in the UK, you will satisfy the financial requirements. This means that you will not need to submit any financial evidence with your application.

Students applying under the new route from either inside or outside the UK as Student Union Sabbatical Officers or as a doctor or dentist in training on a recognised foundation programme, will also be exempt from meeting the financial requirements.


Nationals from Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea and the USA, join nationals from the UK, EU, EEA and Switzerland who are exempt from obtaining ATAS clearance for postgraduate study in relevant subjects.

Application window

Students applying under the new Student route from outside the UK, now have up to 6 months to do so prior to the start of their course rather than 3 months. 

Time limits

Time limits for those studying at postgraduate level have been removed. 

Low risk applicants

Nationals from the EU, EEA and Switzerland have been added to the list of ‘low risk’ nationals. Students from these countries are not required to submit evidence to show that they meet the financial requirements or provide their academic qualifications used to obtain an offer of study. The Home Office however retain the right to request sight of these documents.

English language

New ways of satisfying the English language requirement have been introduced. This can now be satisfied if:

• This requirement was met successfully in a previous application made either outside or inside the UK.

• You have obtained either a GCSE, A Level or Scottish equivalent in English language or literature following education at a UK school whilst below the age of 18.

• Students who are nationals of Malta will be classed as being from a majority English speaking country. Such students can rely on their nationality, and students of other nationalities can submit academic qualifications taught at an institution in Malta. 



I am a new student starting this Sept / Oct. Can I delay making my visa application until after the new system is launched?

Students starting remotely

If you are undertaking term 1 remotely from your home country, you can delay your visa application until a little nearer your travel date. We advise you try and apply at least 1.5 months before your intended travel date. See Covid-19 and your immigration status for more info.

Students already in the UK

If you are already in the UK on a Tier 4 visa, it is essential that you submit your new visa application before your course start date. Your current visa only gives you permission to study the course and at the institution that was on your previous CAS. You could be in breach of your immigration permission if you start a new course without having first made your visa application using a CAS from Imperial.

You do not need to have received your new visa. you just need to have submitted the application online. 

I am an EEA national. What does this mean for me?

If you are already in the UK, or intending to study at Imperial this academic year, we would strongly advise that you apply for settled or pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme. In order to be eligible you need to be resident in the UK before 31 December 2020.

If you are only intending to come to the UK after 1 January 2021 and you are going to be studying a course of at least 6 months duration then you will need to apply for a new Student Route visa. Applications for EEA national students will open from 5th October.

Do I need to be on a Tier 4/Student visa to qualify for the new Graduate Worker Route visa?

Yes. The Graduate Worker Route is open to anyone who successfully completes their course and has valid Tier 4 or Student Route permission after the GWR launches in Summer 2021. This means all Imperial students starting full time courses this academic year should be eligible as long as you have Student Route or Tier 4 immigration permission.

Is the Tier 4 Pilot Scheme closing?

Yes. The Pilot Scheme which meant students studying 1 year Master's degrees at Imperial had an additional 6 months on their visa is closing once the new Student Route launches on 5th October. However, students starting 1 year Master's courses this year will all be eligible for the Graduate Worker Route and therefore you can obtain a 2-year work visa at the end of your course.