A new visa rule came into force on Tuesday October 1st which permits visitors to the UK, on either a tourist or business visa, to study English when they are here on a visit or on business. In effect, this new ruling means visitors, within these visa categories, can study up to six weeks at an accredited and government approved English language school. Visitors can study in one six week block, or smaller blocks of time, provided the study period doesn’t exceed six weeks.
For many years now, the UK English language teaching (ELT) industry has bemoaned the irrational and commercially damaging ruling that, on the one hand, allowed a visitor to the UK to do a pottery course or learn how to ride a horse but, on the other hand, prohibited that same visitor from taking an English language course, the language of the country being visited.
Tony Millns, The Chief Executive of English UK, the world's leading language association, said accredited English centres would be delighted with the change. In reference to business visitors, Mr Millns added, "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. This is a sensible move to end the current anomalous situation."
This news of the relaxation of the visitor visa rules is a welcome boost to an industry that has been hard-hit in recent years by a combination of stifling visa rules, stiff competition from other English language destinations, such as the US and Australia, and an Olympic summer that was a complete wash-out commercially (particularly in London) for language schools. The Olympic summer seemed to keep everyone away other than well-heeled sports fans.
Importantly, courses can only be taken at centres who are accredited by approved bodies, such as the British Council or ISI within the English language school sector. LanguageBookings.com who have been operating sending international students to London are delighted with the news. Esteban Di Falco LanguageBookings's Manager said, "This is excellent news! Instead of the ludicrous situation where we have UK visitors trying to book a English course only to be told they are not allowed to study without a visa we can now welcome them with open arms. It will be so much easier for students to study English in the UK !"
In recent times, the Government has often been heard saying, that Britain is 'open for business' and that it welcomes overseas visitors. Up to now, that message has seemed a little hollow but perhaps we can start believing what they say.
The LanguageBookings.com Team