Sun | Jan 20, 2019

Immigration - Do I need a special visa for a short course?

Published:Tuesday | January 27, 2015 | 12:00 AM

Dear Mr Bassie,

I will be visiting England in the near future and I am thinking that while I am there, I may take a small course in horticulture. Will I need to have a student's visa to do this? I would appreciate some advice prior to my departure.


Dear G.P.,

It may be possible for a person to study for up to 30 days on an approved course with a general, business, or family visitor visa to the United Kingdom. However, any study that is being considered must be an extra activity that the person does during his or her visit to the United Kingdom, and cannot be the main purpose of the visit. A person should apply for a student visitor visa if the main purpose of the visit is study.

With respect to studying in the United Kingdom while visiting, there are a number of things that a person will and will not be able to do. For instance, a person can take his or her 30-day allowance to study in one fell swoop or over a number of shorter periods.

The person may also use the time for recreational courses such as an activity course, like horse-riding or sailing; or an art and craft course like painting. A person may study towards a qualification if the course is at an accredited institution.

A visitor will not be able to use any of the allowed 30 days to study English at an institution that is not an accredited institution. Any course that is being considered must be run by an approved organisation that is either licensed or accredited, or the course must be taught at a listed educational institution. It should be noted that courses that are recreational and those which do not count towards a qualification will not have to follow this rule.

Persons seeking to study who fall within this visitor's category must study a course that must be taught by an organisation that is licensed to sponsor Tier 4 visa holders or accredited by one of the following bodies: Accreditation UK; Accreditation Body for Language Services; British Accreditation Council; or Accreditation Service for International Colleges.

If one of these bodies have not accredited the course, the course will need to be held at an educational institution that is inspected, reviewed, or audited by one of the following organisations: Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education; Office for Standards in Education; HM Inspectorate of Education (in Scotland); Estyn (in Wales); Education and Training Inspectorate (in Northern Ireland); or Independent Schools Inspectorate.

Good luck!

John S. Bassie is a barrister/attorney-at-law who practises in Jamaica. He is a justice of the peace, a Supreme Court-appointed mediator, a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, a chartered arbitrator and a member of the Immigration Law Practitioners Association (U.K.). Email