The points-based immigration system
All overseas nationals arriving to work or study in the UK from 1 January 2021, including those from the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland, come under the UK’s points-based immigration system.
The type of visa trainee teachers from overseas need to apply for may depend on whether their teacher training course is salaried or unsalaried.
- higher education institution programmes
- school-centred initial teacher training (SCITT) programmes
- School Direct fee-funded programme
- School Direct salaried programme
- Teach First Leadership Development programme
- postgraduate teaching apprenticeships
Irish citizens can continue to enter, work and study in the UK under the Common Travel Area as they could previously.
Student visa – for unsalaried teacher training courses
Teacher training candidates can apply for a Student visa to train to teach in England if they are undertaking an unsalaried initial teacher training (ITT) course and:
- they have an unconditional offer from a licensed sponsoring institution
- they can financially support themselves in the UK and pay for their course
- they can speak, read, write and understand English
Trainee teachers undertaking an unsalaried ITT course can apply:
- up to 6 months before their course starts if they’re applying from outside the UK
- up to 3 months before it starts if they’re applying from inside the UK
To sponsor a Student visa your institution must be a licensed sponsor.
State-funded schools cannot sponsor Student visas.
If you are not already a Student visa sponsor, you can apply for a student sponsor licence. This guidance has further information about being a sponsor, including your responsibilities.
Skilled Worker visa – for salaried teacher training courses
Teacher training candidates can apply for a Skilled Worker visa to train to teach in England if they are undertaking a salaried ITT course and:
Trainee teachers undertaking a salaried ITT course can apply for a Skilled Worker visa up to 3 months before they are due to start work in the UK.
State-funded schools can sponsor Skilled Worker visas.
Schools can become a sponsor by following this step-by-step guidance. This guidance covers further information about being a sponsor, including your responsibilities.
Some visa routes in the points-based immigration system do not require you to sponsor the trainee.
The Graduate visa is available to international students who have successfully completed their degree in the UK and been sponsored by a Home Office licensed student sponsor.
Those on a Graduate visa will be able to study, work or look for work in the UK for up to 2 years after completing their studies (3 years for PhD students) without a sponsor. This includes training as a teacher via either a salaried or unsalaried ITT course, if the course does not meet the requirements for a student visa.
Teachers or trainee teachers on a Graduate visa will be able to apply to switch to another visa route (such as the Skilled Worker visa) without having to leave the UK if they meet the requirements for the other visa route.
Youth Mobility Scheme visa
A Youth Mobility Scheme visa lasts for up to 2 years and is for young people aged 18 to 30 who have certain types of British nationality or are from certain countries. Young people can study or work while on this visa without a sponsoring educational institution or sponsoring employer. This includes training as a teacher via either a salaried or unsalaried ITT course.
Teachers or trainee teachers on a Youth Mobility Scheme visa may be able to apply to switch to another visa route without leaving the UK. They’ll need to meet the requirements for the other visa route.
Trainee teachers from overseas may be able to work or study in the UK on another type of visa.
EU Settlement Scheme
Citizens of the EEA or Switzerland might be able to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme to continue living, working and studying in the UK without applying for a visa.
The deadline for most people to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme was 30 June 2021.
Citizens of the EEA or Switzerland, and their family members, can still apply if they or a family member were living in the UK by 31 December 2020.
They must also either:
- meet one of the criteria for a later deadline to apply
- have ‘reasonable grounds’ for not applying by 30 June 2021
More information is available about the eligibility criteria for later applications to the EU Settlement Scheme.
Applications to the EU Settlement Scheme can also be made by those who already have pre-settled status and are applying for settled status. To stay in the UK, those with pre-settled status must apply to the EU Settlement Scheme again before their pre-settled status expires.
International travel during coronavirus (COVID-19)
Global travel, including to the UK, is affected by coronavirus (COVID-19).
Non-UK nationals should check their country’s advice as well as the UK’s advice to find out what they must do before they travel to England and after they arrive, including what COVID-19 tests they need to take and the quarantine rules for travel to England.
The UK government has also published guidance about what to do if you need a visa to travel to the UK and further information is available for those affected by changes to UK immigration and borders due to COVID-19.
Entry criteria for ITT
More information about ITT entry criteria is available.
Support for candidates
Our guidance tells candidates that if their qualifications come from a non-UK institution, their chosen training provider may want to see a ‘statement of comparability’ from UK ENIC showing their equivalence to UK qualifications.
Candidates are invited to call Get into Teaching on 0800 389 2500 for:
- guidance on the UK equivalents of their qualifications
- a free statement of comparability once they’ve submitted their application if their provider asks for this
International candidates can also register with Get into Teaching’s Get an adviser service for personalised advice about teaching in England over email and phone, or use the online chat service on the website.
The final decision on eligibility still lies with the accredited ITT provider before an applicant enters teacher training.