I'm a Canadian moving to England for a year on a student exchange. My spouse lives in England and I've been doing regular trips to Bristol to see them for the past two years (they're a uk citizen). I'm going to Bristol to meet my spouse in June and will spend the summer with them until the start of my university, when we'll move to Leeds. I'm wondering if I will need to go back to Canada in late August/September to get my visa, and then re-enter the country, or if it's possible to stay there as a tourist for two months given that I usually am allowed six months in the country (with the commonwealth act and whatnot), and then my student visa will ''kick in'' in August, meaning I don't have to go back to Canada and can just sort my visa before leaving.

Thank you for any help.

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    What about a quick trip to France? – Hanky Panky Apr 27 '18 at 1:38
  • The commonwealth has nothing to do with your six month period of admission. All visitors get that unless there are exceptional circumstances that lead the immigration officer to grant a shortened period of leave to enter. – phoog Apr 27 '18 at 7:35
  • student visa will ''kick in'". It never kicks in. Your visa status is the visa on which you entered the country. If you don't re-enter you will be overstaying on your visa and then UKBA will take you to task. – DumbCoder Apr 27 '18 at 8:47

In May 2017 my son received a Tier 2 visa with which he moved to the UK in June and undertook multi-year employment in Cambridge. He applied for the visa months before, and his passport was returned to him with a new document inside (not the visa, just an information page) which disclosed the visa's start date; other documents indicated he should enter the UK “not more than 14 days before” the start date of his visa. After entry to the UK, he had to go to the PO in Cambridge to retrieve his biometric residence permit.

I don't know if your "days before" number is the same as his. Whatever it is, you must enter the UK after that point. Enter does not mean already be there, it does mean pass through the UK border into the UK.

Thus, I agree with @Hanky Panky: at or after your "days before" date, leave the UK by going to France, or to Ireland (not Northern Ireland, which is the UK), spend the night, and return to the UK anew.

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  • The trouble with that plan is the first entry. If he discloses the entire plan to the immigration officer (and it's hard to see how he couldn't), then it would seem to be hard for the IO to consider him a "genuine visitor". – hmakholm left over Monica Apr 27 '18 at 15:26
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    Not hard at all. The traveler says "This entry is a visit, and I will depart the UK and then re-enter on my student visa when my entry is permitted by the terms of my visa." I agree that it's a triumph of form over substance, but I think it's bureaucratically correct. – DavidSupportsMonica Apr 27 '18 at 16:26

On a Tier 4 (General Student) visa, if your course lasts 6 months or less, you can arrive in (i.e. enter, as the previous answer stated) the U.K. up to 1 week before; if it lasts more than 6 months, up to 1 month before. You’ll have to collect your biometric residence permit within 10 days of when you said you’d arrive in the UK (even if you actually arrive at a later date). https://www.gov.uk/tier-4-general-visa

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