The UK Government is going to change the way that it issues permission for people to come to the UK from abroad for more than six months. To start with (probably at the end of February 2015) the new system will apply only to people applying from Pakistan. Soon after that it will be extended to a second group of countries, with more countries being added on 29 May 2015, and all the remaining countries in the world on 31 July 2015.
The current system is that when students apply in their home country for permission to come to the UK, they receive an ‘entry clearance’ sticker in their passport, which usually gives them permission to enter the UK and then stay in the UK for the length of their course (plus a short time afterwards). The new system will be more complicated. When a student makes their immigration application abroad, they will have to say what town they are going to stay in when they first arrive in the UK. They will be given a short-term entry clearance in their passport that gives them 30 days in which to travel to the UK and then go to a Post Office near the town identified, to collect a ‘Biometric Immigration Document’ (‘BID’) which shows their permission to be in the UK for the rest of their course (plus a short amount of time afterwards).
Most students will want to collect their BIDs very soon after arriving, as they are likely to be needed for many purposes.
The first wave of countries to be affected after Pakistan:
Armenia, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Burma, Cambodia, China, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Gibraltar, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Italy, Laos, Libya, Maldives, Malta, Nepal, Netherlands, North Korea, Norway, Portugal, Republic of Ireland, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Thailand, and Vietnam.
The countries that will be added for those making applications on or after 29 May 2015:
Afghanistan, Ascension Island, Australia, Bahamas, Bahrain, Barbados, Bermuda, Brunei, Canada, Cayman Islands, Dominican Republic, Egypt, Falkland Islands, Fiji, Guyana, Iran, Jamaica, Japan, Malaysia, Mongolia, New Zealand, Nigeria, Oman, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Qatar, St Helena, St Lucia, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Trinidad and Tobago, United Arab Emirates, USA, and Yemen.