Paris is a beautiful city in northern France and easily accessible from London by air from one of London’s airports, by train via the Eurostar from St Pancras International, and by road on the Eurotunnel near Folkestone. So while you’re in the UK with a valid visa, it may be tempting to travel across the channel and for a few days in the City of Lights (and Love).
But since the UK is no longer in the EU and has never been part of the Schengen Area, you need to show your passport at border control when travelling, by whichever means, to mainland Europe. So if you want to travel to Paris, you’ll need the necessary visa, unless your passport or residence permit is issued by another EU country, the UK, the US or Canada, although there are limitations on how long you can stay.
So before you book your trip to Paris, make sure you know what restrictions are in place for your nationality.
Your Rights as a Student Visa Holder in the UK
When you arrive in the UK after successfully obtaining your Student visa, you should pick up your biometric residence permit (BRP) from a Post Office branch or from your sponsor at your educational institute. Your BRP will include details of your visa, including how long you’re permitted to stay in the UK and how many hours you’re permitted to work.
Students studying below degree level may work up to 10 hours per week during term time, while those studying at degree level or above may work up to 20 hours a week during term time. Outside of term time, in official course holidays, all international students may work full-time. If you work more than your permitted number of hours, you’re putting your visa-holder status at risk.
When you apply for jobs, you must show your employer your residence permit so they can ensure you have the right to work in the UK and don’t employ you for more hours than you’re permitted. As an international student, you can only take on fixed-term contracts, so you have an end date for your employment. You must also not be self-employed or run a business.
International students also may not work as:
- Professional sportspeople, including sports coaches
- Entertainers, including actors, musicians, dancers and performers, unless they are university students of dance, drama and music on work placements.
- Doctors or dentists in training
The relevant taxes will automatically be drawn from the student’s payslips. International students may also use the NHS, as they will have paid the immigration health surcharge when applying for their visa. Your visa may be refused if you don’t pay the relevant fees, or show sufficient finances, however, you should have the right to appeal, elongating the visa processing time.
Travelling on a Student Visa
International students also have the right to travel whilst they are Student visa holders in the UK. However, a Student visa is only a temporary residency permit, not a permanent residency permit, also known as settled status or indefinite leave to remain (ILR), so this does not grant international students the same travelling rights as British nationals or residents.
When travelling as an international student, your passport is your most important travel document; the issuing country will determine what visas you need for what location. Therefore, you may not travel to Paris with a UK Student visa, however, if you are from the UK, US or Canada, you may travel within the Schengen Area for up to 90 days in a 180-day period, and if you’re from an EU country, you may travel and stay in France indefinitely.
However, there are restrictions on when international students can travel while they are studying in the UK. When you apply for a UK Student visa, you need to show your dedication to your course, and if you show while studying that you aren’t committed to your learning, you may have your visa revoked. So UK Student visa holders may only travel outside of term time.
Term time differs according to each institution and level of study, so check with your school, college or university before making any travel arrangements. If you travel during term time, you may experience problems at the UK border, or with the authorities when you go back to your classes. You can travel in emergencies, for example, to attend a family member’s funeral, however, you should obtain a permission letter from your supervisor before travelling.
You may also travel as part of a school trip, however, the relevant paperwork will need to be done by your educational institution in advance.
Where Can You Travel with a UK Student Visa?
When you have a UK Student visa, you can travel freely around the UK outside of term time. The UK includes:
- Northern Ireland
- The Isle of Man
- The Isle of Wight
- The Channel Islands (including Jersey and Guernsey)
The UK also has several overseas territories, most of which you can visit with a valid UK visa such as a Student visa but for no more than 6 months.
Although on one island, Northern Ireland and Southern Ireland are two separate countries, the southern half becoming a republic in 1949. So although you may visit Northern Ireland with a valid UK visa, you cannot visit the Republic of Ireland without a valid Schengen visa.
When Your Student Visa Expires
When you have completed your course, you will usually have at least one month left in the UK before your visa expires. You should leave the country before your visa expires to ensure you’re not breaking the terms of your visa by overstaying, unless you wish to stay in the UK longer. If you wish to stay longer, you can:
- Extend your student visa
- Switch to another visa
Whether you extend or switch your visa, you must apply before your current visa expires, or your application will be withdrawn. In most cases, you will also need to prove that your course has been successfully completed.
Extending Your Student Visa
Student visas are usually given for slightly longer than the course they are for to enable students to retake exams or redo coursework before their visa expires. However, if you need to retake a year’s study, or want to continue studying at a higher level in the UK, you may extend your visa. You may also apply for a new Student visa to study at the same level as before if your new course is relevant to your field and will benefit your future career.
The application process is done online and largely the same as your first visa application.
Switching to a Work Visa
Many students come to the UK to study to improve their career prospects both in the UK and around the world thanks to the high quality of education available, so switching from a Student visa to a work permit is a great option if you want to continue living and working in the UK after you complete your studies.
However, you will need a sponsor for a work permit, which can take time to obtain if you haven’t been working alongside your course or completed an internship. Some students opt for a Graduate visa so they can remain in the UK for a further 2 to 3 years and search for an eligible job for a Skilled Worker visa, also known as Tier 2 worker visa, without the pressure of a closely-approaching visa expiry date.
You can switch directly from a Student visa to a Skilled Worker visa, however, once you have completed your studies. So if you have a set career path, it’s a great idea to work in a relevant field while completing your studies or do an internship before your course ends, so you’ve got great contacts in order to get a job offer from an approved sponsor and meet the new minimum salary requirements easily after graduation.
Need Visa Help? Contact Synergy Immigration Solutions
If you’re not sure about your visa application process or want to know your rights as a visa holder in the UK, contact Synergy Immigration Solutions for more information!