Immigration and visas

Immigration and visas

Image of two Asian students sitting in Square 4 at the Colchester Campus

Immigration permission to study inside the UK

If you are not a UK or Irish citizen, you will need to hold valid UK immigration permission that allows you to study your University of Essex course inside the UK.


Some British nationals require a visa to study in the UK, even though they may be entitled to apply for British citizenship and/or pay home fees. Read the government guidance for more information. If you are a BNO from Hong Kong, you may be able to apply for the British National Overseas (BNO) visa, this visa allows study in the UK and can lead to settlement.

Visit the government website to find out if you need a visa to study in the UK and, if so, what visa to apply for.

Right to study checks

As a Student Sponsor we have many compliance duties which include, “to comply with all aspects of the Immigration Rules and sponsor guidance, and support immigration control, including by taking steps to ensure that every student at their institution who is subject to immigration control has permission to study in the UK throughout the whole period of their study.” Please familiarise yourself with all The University Regulations including the regulations relating to immigration within the General regulations and Regulations relating to Registration.

Read our Registration pages to find out more about the identity documents you will need to bring with you and if you are not a UK or Irish national, our Identity and Right to Study Documents table (.pdf) to find out what immigration documents we will need to complete your right to study check.

University of Essex International College

If you will be studying at the University of Essex International College and your CAS is issued by the college or by Kaplan, the guidance in these pages does not apply to you. Please contact the college.

Applying for a visa to study in the UK

If you do not have UK immigration permission that will allow you to study with us, the type of visa you should apply for will depend on your circumstances including, what passport or travel document you hold, the length of your proposed study and where you are applying from. As a general guide:

If you are overseas and are coming to the UK to study;

  • a course of more than 6 months long, you should be able to apply for a Student visa.
  • a course that is up to 6 months long, you should be able to apply for a Standard Visitor visa.
  • a pre-sessional English course, you should be able to apply for a Student visa.
  • part of a longer course for up to 6 months, you may be able to apply for a Standard Visitor visa. If this is not possible you may be able to apply for a Student visa.

If you are inside the UK and are starting a new course or need more time to finish your course;

  • Provided you have valid UK immigration permission, meet all the Student route requirements to apply inside the UK and are issued with a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS), you will be able to apply for permission to stay under the Student Immigration Rules. If you are not eligible to apply inside the UK, you may be able to apply overseas.

Please read our information and guidance to find out what type of permission you may be able to apply for and follow relevant links to the government and UKCISA guidance to find out more:

To apply for a Student visa, you will need to be eligible for our immigration sponsorship and be issued with a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) first. Read our guidance for more information.

To apply for a Standard Visitor visa, you will need a supporting document from us. There are types of study a Standard Visitor cannot do so it is very important you read our guidance before applying or entering the UK.

Studying with other types of UK immigration permission

Most types of UK immigration permission allow study, however, the type of study you can do may be restricted, you will need to read the Immigration Rules that apply to find out what your conditions are. It is your responsibility to ensure the type of permission you hold is for the main purpose of your visit to the UK and that you continue to meet all the requirements and conditions of your permission during your stay. The types of permission that may not enable you to study your chosen course include the Graduate route, Immigration Bail, Visitor and a Student visa for a different institution/course.

If your immigration permission will expire before your course is due to finish, you may be able to start your course but do so at your own risk. We are unable to guarantee to sponsor you to apply for permission to stay under the Student Immigration Rules in the future but will consider a request. If you are interested in the Graduate route when you have completed an eligible course, you will need to have been studying in the UK with Student immigration permission for the required length of time, read the UKCISA’s Working after studies guidance for more information.

EU settlement – if you have obtained pre-settled or settled status you can study in the UK and will not require a visa. If you have pre-settled status, you can apply for settled status once you have been in the UK for 5 years. Read our EU student page for some more information about the EU Settlement Scheme, including what you should do if you have applied but haven’t had the outcome yet and, for links to guidance from trusted organisations. The UKCISA website includes a dedicated section for EU, EEA and Swiss nationals.

If you are not a UK or Irish national, read our Identity and Right to Study Documents table (.pdf) to find out what immigration documents we will require to complete your right to study check.