Time spent on a Student or Youth Mobility Scheme visa doesn't count towards the required 5 years of continuous residence for settlement in the UK. What's the policy reason?

I note that non-UK students and alumni of UK universities contribute large amount in fees. In 2017-2018, Oxford University's lowest Overseas fee was £15775.

Is the reason that time as a student is not sufficiently "affiliated" with the UK? Then why does an Ancestry visa qualify? Aren't Student or Youth Scheme visa holders more affiliated and related to the UK, than Ancestry visa holders?

British National (Overseas) visa: Living permanently in the UK

If you’ve already spent time in the UK on one of the following visas this will count towards the 5 years:

  • Global Talent visa (or a Tier 1 Exceptional Talent visa)
  • Investor visa
  • Entrepreneur visa
  • Skilled Worker visa (or a Tier 2 General work visa)
  • Minister of Religion visa
  • Sportsperson visa
  • Representative of an Overseas Business visa
  • UK Ancestry visa

Time spent on a Student visa (previously called a Tier 4 (General) student visa) or a Youth Mobility Scheme visa will not count. [emphasis mine]

  • 1
    No downvote from me, but too much of your question is about "unprincipled" and "rebuttal" This suggests that you are not asking a question, but making a point. This is what it looks like, even if you did not intend this. You can rephrase to ask the question in a more neutral way. You can show research (for example which countries do allow time on a student visa to count? USA? France? Japan?)
    – James K
    May 23 at 10:04
  • I've made some edits to tone down the rhetoric.
    – James K
    May 23 at 10:08
  • @JamesK thank you.
    – user38482
    May 26 at 4:40

The purpose of the "Global talent" etc. visas is to allow people to settle in the UK. Mostly these people are people with exceptional skills (or at least exceptional amounts of money) These visas are very hard to obtain. You need a sponsoring organisation that has to prove that it is impossible to find someone with your talents in the UK.

The UK ancestry visa is an exception. But again it is intended to allow a particular and narrowly defined group of people to settle in the UK.

There is another class of visa that is not intended to lead to settlement: Tourist visas, "working holiday youth visas", business trip visas and student visas. These are all intended for people to come to the UK for a specific purpose and leave at the end of the visit. These visas are much easier to obtain. You don't need to have exceptional talents, nor do you need a prior connection to the UK to obtain one. To get a student visa you just have to pass some exams and demonstrate the ability to support yourself in the UK.

So there are two classes of visa. Those intended to lead to settlement, and those not intended to lead to settlement. Only those in the first group count towards the five years that the UK sets before granting permanent residence.

To answer the specific question. A person entering on a student visa needs have not affiliation with the UK prior to entry. A person entering on an Ancestry visa needs to be a Commonwealth citizen whose Grandparent was born in the UK. So a person entering on an Ancestry visa is more affiliated. However closeness of affiliation is not the reason that this Visa class exists. It is a hang-over from the days of the British Empire and applies to a very small class of people.


The UK wants to control who gets to live in the UK. That's their right. The UK made the decision to allow foreign students in, to educate them in exchange for a lot of money, but with the understanding that students on those visa leave again.

The question you ask about ancestry visa is interesting in this regard -- obviously the UK considers the descendants of Britons more British than somebody who stayed a couple of years as a student. That could be considered traces of a jus sanguinis. Note how the UK has only limited jus soli.

Citizenship and residency laws are usually a mess of the current political intentions and the previous political intentions, with enough grandfathering clauses to keep lawyers busy. This is the wrong discussion board to argue about fairness and unfairness, it seeks to explain the political process.

  • Thanks. But I'm not arguing "about fairness and unfairness". I just want to know the policy reason.
    – user38482
    May 23 at 7:45

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