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How to apply for a UK Student Visa

Overview

You can apply for a Student visa to study in the UK if you’re 16 or over and you:

  • have been offered a place on a course by a licensed student sponsor
  • have enough money to support yourself and pay for your course – the amount will vary depending on your circumstances
  • can speak, read, write and understand English
  • have consent from your parents if you’re 16 or 17 – you’ll need evidence of this when you apply

If you’re 16 or 17 and you want to study at an independent school in the UK, you may be eligible for a Child Student visa instead.

This visa has replaced the Tier 4 (General) student visa.

 

When to apply

When you can apply depends on whether you’re applying from inside or outside the UK.

 

Applying from outside the UK

The earliest you can apply for a visa is 6 months before you start your course.

You’ll usually get a decision on your visa within 3 weeks.

 

Applying from inside the UK

The earliest you can apply is 3 months before your course starts.

You must apply before your current visa expires. Your new course must begin within 28 days of your current visa expiring.

You’ll usually get a decision within 8 weeks.

 

How long you can stay

How long you can stay depends on the length of your course and what study you’ve already completed in the UK.

If you’re 18 or over and your course is at degree level, you can usually stay in the UK for up to 5 years. If it’s below degree level, you can usually stay in the UK for up to 2 years.

 

Staying longer in the UK

You may be able to:

  • extend your visa if you’re eligible, for example to continue your studies in the UK
  • switch to a Student visa from another visa if you’re already in the UK
  • switch to a Graduate visa to stay in the UK for at least 2 years after successfully completing your course.

When you can travel to the UK

You can arrive before your course starts. This can be either:

  • up to 1 week before, if your course lasts 6 months or less
  • up to 1 month before, if your course lasts more than 6 months

You must not travel to the UK before the start date given on your visa, no matter when your course starts.

Fees

It costs:

  • £348 to apply for a Student visa from outside the UK
  • £475 to extend or switch to a Student visa from inside the UK

You must pay the visa fee for each person that joins you.

Healthcare surcharge

You’ll also have to pay the healthcare surcharge as part of your application.

How much you pay depends on how long your visa lasts. Check how much you’ll have to pay before you apply.

 

Your partner and children

You may be able to bring your partner and children (‘dependants’).

 

What you can and cannot do

You can:

  • study
  • work as a student union sabbatical officer

You may be able to work – how much depends on what you’re studying and whether you’re working in or out of term-time.

You cannot:

  • claim public funds (benefits) and pensions
  • work in certain jobs, for example as a professional sportsperson or sports coach
  • be self-employed
  • study at an academy or a local authority-funded school (also known as a maintained school)

If your application is successful, you’ll be told what you can and cannot do on a Student visa.

Your course

You must have an unconditional offer of a place on a course with a licensed student sponsor.

To prove this, your education provider will send you a reference number (called a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS)) once they’ve offered you a place on the course. You need a CAS before you can apply for your visa.

 

Courses you can study

You can do one of the following courses:

  • a full-time course leading to a qualification that’s below degree level (RQF level 3, 4 or 5) with at least 15 hours a week of organised daytime study
  • a full-time course leading to a qualification that’s degree level or above (RQF level 6, 7 or 8)
  • a full-time course at degree level or above (RQF level 6,7 or 8) that’s equivalent to a UK higher education course and is being delivered as part of a longer course overseas
  • a part-time course leading to a qualification that’s above degree level (RQF level 7 or above)
  • a recognised foundation programme for postgraduate doctors or dentists
  • an English language course at level B2 or above in the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages

You can also apply for this visa if you’re taking up a full-time elected position as a Student Union Sabbatical Officer.

You may also need an Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) certificate if you’re studying or researching sensitive topics at RQF level 7 or above.

The qualification levels are different in Scotland.

 

Postgraduate doctors and dentists

You can apply for this visa if you’re sponsored to do a recognised foundation programme and you’ve:

  • finished a recognised UK degree in medicine or dentistry
  • received that degree from a registered student sponsor
  • spent your final year and at least 1 other year of studies leading to that degree in the UK.

Your Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS)

Once they’ve offered you a place on the course, your education provider will send you a reference number called a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies.

  • You must enter this reference number on your visa application.
  • You must apply for your visa within 6 months of receiving your CAS.

Documents you’ll need to apply

When you apply for your Student visa you must provide:

  • a current passport or other valid travel documentation
  • a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) from your course provider

You may also need to provide:

  • proof you have enough money to support yourself and pay for your course – this will vary depending on your circumstances
  • a valid ATAS certificate if your course and nationality require it
  • proof of parental or other legal guardian consent if you’re under 18
  • proof of your relationship to your parent or guardian if you’re under 18
  • your tuberculosis test results
  • written consent for your application from your financial sponsor if you’ve received sponsorship for your course fees and living costs in the last 12 months

You may need to provide additional documents depending on your circumstances. Read the guidance for the full list of documents you’ll need to provide.

You need a blank page in your passport for your visa if you need to give your biometric information (fingerprints and a photograph) at a visa application centre. You’ll be told if you need to do this when you apply.

If you’re under 18

If you’re under 18 you’ll need written consent from both parents or legal guardians (or one parent if they have sole responsibility).

This must include their consent for:

  • your visa application
  • your living and care arrangements in the UK
  • your travel to the UK

You’ll also need to provide a copy of your birth certificate (or another government issued document) that shows the names of your parents.

 

Apply

You must apply online for a Student visa.

Check which documents you’ll need to apply.

 

Apply outside the UK

As part of your application, you’ll need to prove your identity. How you do this depends on where you’re from and what type of passport you have.

You’ll either:

  • give your fingerprints and a photograph (biometric information) at a visa application centre
  • use the ‘UK Immigration: ID Check’ app to scan your identity document – you’ll also create or sign into your UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) account

You’ll be told what you need to do when you apply.

Once you’ve started your application, you can save your form and complete it later.

Start now.

 

How long it takes to get a decision

You’ll usually get a decision within 3 weeks.

You may be able to pay to get a faster decision- you’ll be told if you can when you apply.

 

Apply inside the UK

You may be able to apply to:

You may be able to pay to get a faster decision – you’ll be told if you can when you apply.

 

After you apply

You’ll be contacted if your application is complex and will take longer, for example because:

  • your supporting documents need to be verified
  • you need to attend an interview
  • of your personal circumstances (for example if you have a criminal conviction)

If you need to change something in your application after you’ve sent it contact UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI).

You can ask to withdraw your application by contacting UKVI. Your fee will only be refunded if UKVI has not started processing your application.

 

After you get a decision

If your application is successful, you’ll get either:

  • a biometric residence permit – if you gave your biometric information at a visa application centre
  • a digital immigration status which you can view and prove online – if you used the ‘UK Immigration: ID Check’ app

Related Post: Applying for a UK Visa

 

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