I posted this in the "England" forum, but thought I'd try here too ...
Some background ... My son is leaving to do a study abroad in Edinburgh next week, and he has a bit of a problem. ... After booking his ticket a couple of months ago, he learned that if he arrives more than 7 days before the start of the spring term, he can't get a student visa. He is scheduled to arrive 10 days before the term begins. (Yes, this is something the U. of California Study Abroad Program needs to more clearly emphasize, but that's a different post ... )
So, being a resourceful but sometimes impulsive 20-year-old, he booked a cheap round-trip to Rome for three days from Edinburgh -- his plan was to arrive in Scotland, go through customs on a tourist visa, then store his biggest bag, turn around and fly to Rome. Then, after enjoying a couple of whirlwind days in Rome, he would take a return flight back to Edinburgh on the "correct" date for arrival, get a student visa, collect his bag, and start the spring term. Perfect!
But he realized yesterday that he got confused by European dates and messed up his RyanAir return flight (by a ton -- several months). ... We're trying to book a different one-way return flight to Edinburgh from Rome, and there are some (expensive) options, but if he can just get the UK student visa when he arrives in Scotland, despite being a few days early, then the whole problem is moot and he can skip the Rome venture for now.
So, here are the questions (finally!) ... does anyone have any experience with UK customs and student visas? How tightly will they hew to this requirement? (Which, BTW, we can't find described or stated anywhere on the British customs/immigration website -- only in material from the UC Berkeley study-abroad program, and other university study-abroad documents we turned up online.) His UC orientation starts just three days after his arrival, and his U. of Edinburgh orientation starts six days after arrival, and he can bring documentation showing those dates -- is that likely to make a difference?
Appreciate any input you're able to offer ...
Cameron Park, Calif.