Details of new Student immigration route published

11 September 2020

The Government is introducing a new Student 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.

Yesterday, 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.

The changes to the Immigration Rules also affect who counts as a dependant of a student, and what they have to show in regards to money available to them.

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.

Update on 18 September 2020 – The Home Office has confirmed that a two-year period of cohabitation prior to application will also apply to fiancés and proposed civil partners.


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. You can read further information on what ATAS is and the requirements on our webpage.

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. For further details concerning time limits and the requirements, please refer to our webpage.

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.