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Tips for Moving to the UK to Research or Study

4 min read · By Academic Positions

The UK is a great place to study or research. Here is some practical advice to know before you move to the UK as a student or researcher.


In March 2017, the UK government began the process of leaving the EU. Until March 2019, the UK remains an EU member state. As such, there are no changes to the rights and status of EU nationals living and studying in the UK while the UK remains in the EU. The UK government has reached an agreement with the EU to allow EU citizens and their families to remain in the UK after March 2019. EU citizens who arrive in the two years after the UK withdraws will still be able to live, study, and work in the UK as before, although they will have to register with the Home Office to stay for more than three months.  

Permits and Visas

Until 2019, citizens of the EU/EEA or Switzerland do not need a visa to study or work in the UK. Most other international students will need a visa to study in the UK. You can check if you need one here. Once you have an offer from a university or college for a full-time course for longer than six months, you’ll need to apply for a Tier 4 (General) student visa. If you are an international researcher or university staff, your university can assist you in applying for a Tier 2 or Tier 5 visa sponsored by either your educational institution or research institution.

Bringing Your Family

Tier 2, Tier 4, or Tier 5 visas allow non-EU/EEA citizen to bring their family members with them to the UK as dependants. Family members include your partner (spouse, civil partner, or cohabiting partner of at least two years) and any children under 18. You will have to show that you have enough money to support their stay in the UK. If your visa is for longer than 12 months your partner will be able to work in the UK. EU/EEA citizens family members do not need a visa to accompany you to the UK.

Biometric Residence Permit

Citizens of non-EEA countries who apply to study or work in the UK for more than six months  (and their dependants) will be issued a Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) when their visa application is approved. You will give your biometrics when you apply at the visa application centre, and will then collect your BRP once you arrive in the UK.  

Registering With the Police

Citizens of certain countries and their dependants must register with the police if they will be in the UK on a visa for more than six months. If your visa sticker indicates you must register, you must go and register at a police station in your area within seven days of arriving in the UK. Check with your university about what documents you need to bring with you to register.

National Insurance Number

To work in the UK (even as a student doing any sort of university teaching) you must apply for a National Insurance Number (NINo). It’s a individual account number that allows your to idently yourself for tax purposes. You must apply in person for a NINo. Call 0845 600 0643 to learn more.

Health Insurance

International students and researchers who have a visa do not need private health insurance while studying and working in the UK. During the visa application process, you will pay a fee of £150 per year to access the National Health Service (NHS). NHS access entitles you to free medical care including emergency services and reduced dental fees at an NHS dentist.

If you are an EEA citizen, you should get a European Health Insurance Card before coming to the UK so you can access the NHS.


International students who will be in the UK for at least six months can open UK bank accounts. The major banks in the UK include Barclays, HSBC, Santander, and Lloyds. Each of them offer slightly different services to international students check your option to determine which bank is best for you. You will have to go to a bank branch in person to open an account and may even need to make an appointment. You will generally need to bring your passport, UK visa, acceptance letter, proof of address in the UK to open a bank account.

It is a good idea to have a few weeks worth of living expenses available in your home bank account as it may take some time to get your UK bank account and salary deposit set up. Check with your home bank before you travel to make sure you will be able to use your bank card abroad.

By Academic Positions  ·  Published 2018-03-23

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