According to stakeholders, the number of six-month visitor visas was at a standstill in the spring and maybe again in 2023 as a result of an increase in the number of professional short courses to study abroad.
Independent HE claimed that combining short-term stays for both study abroad and travel on one visa, especially if it restricts students’ freedom of movement, may not be a practical concept. There was a significant visitor visa delay in the spring, affecting all types of visas.
The standard visitor visa, which the UK government introduced in December 2020, includes reasons for entry such as to study abroad for an English course, taking entrance exams for higher education, doing electives, and taking professional short courses. It allows visitors to stay in the country for up to six months without having to leave.
At the same time that the majority of professional courses are taking place, the countries that are seeing an increase in interest for long-term study abroad visas are simultaneously witnessing a very time-sensitive increase in tourist visa interest. Due to priorities established on visas for displaced Ukrainian citizens in May 2022, as well as issues in April 2022, this may have been compounded even more.
According to the government, it currently takes 5 weeks to process a tourist visa; however, a recent investigation revealed that processing times for more than 60,000 visitor visas exceeded 50 days.
It highlights the challenges faced by those who want to study in the UK for fewer than six months because there is no way to determine whether they are for short courses, English language training, or tourism.
Authorities intend to track professional short courses earlier, during the application process for visitor visas – if coming for the purpose to study abroad, students must specify that the provider is accredited. Indication that they are coming to study must be made on the application form.
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