Yesterday, the Home Office published its policy statement on the UK's new immigration system, due to come into force on 1 January 2021. Apparently, key routes may open from Autumn 2020, though this probably refers to work rather than study routes.
Information about the proposed student route is contained in one paragraph (paragraph 20) and states that:
"Students will be covered by the points-based system. They will achieve the required points if they can demonstrate that they have an offer from an approved educational institution, speak English and are able to support themselves during their studies in the UK".
None of this is new and it is very vague. We have asked the Home Office when and how it intends to start engaging with the education sector and we will post details in a news item as soon as we have more information.
The only change that directly affects students is related to the application process (paragraphs 27-32). European Economic Area and Swiss nationals and their family members, who do not qualify to enter or stay in the UK under the EU settlement scheme, will be required to apply for entry clearance (a visa) in order to study. However, the application process for EU nationals will be different in that they will
- not have to give fingerprints
- be able to upload their photograph online
- be issued with an e-visa, rather than with a biometric residence card or sticker in their passport
- continue to be able to enter via e-gates.
It is not clear from the statement whether this process will also apply to non-EU EEA nationals. The UK Government will continue to accept national identity documents for the time being, and will publish details 'shortly' about its intention to stop treating them as valid travel and identity documents (paragraph 33).
EEA and Swiss nationals coming to study for up to six months as a short-term student will be able to apply on arrival, in the same way that non-visa nationals from other countries do now.
Most of the document deals with work routes, described and analysed in a Free Movement blog. There is no mention of the Graduate route because this new category will not be implemented before 'summer' 2021.