UK allows study on visitor visas

September 09, 2013

Non-EU visitors to the UK on tourist or business visas will be able to undertake a period of English language study of up to six weeks from October, following new rules announced by the Immigration Minister Mark Harper.

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Where study is incidental to the main purpose of a visit, tourist and business visa holders on a six-month visa will be allowed to use the privilege flexibly, either taking a six-week course in one block or dividing into weekly sessions.

Study will only be permitted at language schools or colleges accredited by one of the approved accrediting bodies - Accreditation UK , ABLS, ASIC and BAC – or at an institution inspected by an approved body for Tier 4 Highly Trusted Sponsor oversight.

Language school association English UK welcomed the news. “This is a sensible move to end the current anomalous situation where technically tourists could learn to ride a horse or do pottery or yoga, but not sit in a classroom and learn the language of the country they are visiting,” said Tony Millns, Chief Executive.

Business English providers in particular could benefit from the new rules, said Millns. “Our members get many requests from people here on business to brush up their business English and negotiation skills, but they must currently turn them away because study is not permitted on a business visitor visa. So we strongly support this change and will work with the Home Office to ensure that non-accredited centres do not see this as a loophole for abuse.”

In other changes to visa rules, international students will be allowed to take up corporate internships after completing a degree, and Harper said it would be easier for graduate entrepreneurs to switch to a Tier 2 work visa. “Today’s changes will ensure the UK continues to attract global talent to work for British businesses and study at our world-class universities,” he said.
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