Applying for a UK Student Visa can be a duanting task for most people. Anyone planning to pursue higher education in the UK will have to go through an immigration process, and most international students need a valid student visa on their passport to live and study in the UK. Immigration requirements for the UK depend on your nationality. This article will provide you with complete and comprehensive guidelines for obtaining a visa to study in the UK.
The student visa will allow you to live and study in the UK for a limited time period until it expires, and you can also apply for a visa extension to continue your studies, during your stay in the United Kingdom.
Who needs a student visa for the UK?
The general immigration rules and criteria are managed by the UK Visas and Immigration authorities, and they regularly make changings in their immigration rules according to the need. Swiss nationals, all the people from European Union and European Economic Area (EEA) states, don’t need a student visa to live and study in the UK, and all other international students from around the world need a valid student visa to live and study in the UK.
After the UK’s referendum to leave EU membership in 2016, there has been uncertainty over the immigration rules for EU/EEA states, but the government has decided that the immigration rules will remain the same for EU/EEA citizens until 2021.
Types of student visa
The United Kingdom offers two types of visa for international students, depending on their ages, and the type of education they want to continue in the UK. The brief introduction of the study visa types is given below.
Short-Term Study Visas
The United Kingdom offers a short-term study visa for non-EEA nationals to live and study a short course in the UK for the duration of less than six months. Students who want to do a short English language course are also granted a short-term study visa for 11 months. You can also avail a short-term study visa if you are enrolled in a part-time course, where the attendance is required for a short period of time.
- If you want to apply for a short training course (e.g. an English language course) for the duration of 6 to 11 month then you need to apply for a short-term study visa.
- If you are studying a degree course in any other country, and you want to do a six months research in the UK, then you need to apply for a short-term study visa.
- You will not be allowed to do work/internship and any kind of business in the UK.
- You will not be able to apply for public funds
- You cannot bring your family members/dependents with you in the country on the short-term study visa, you will have to apply for them separately.
- You must be 16 years old or over to apply for the short-term study visa.
TIER 4 (General) Student Visas
If you are over 17 years of age, and want to get admission in a higher education degree in the United Kingdom, then you will need to apply for a TIER 4 (General) student visa. To apply for the Tier 4 (General) student visa, you first need to get an admission offer from any registered university or college in the UK.
Your selected university or college must have approval by the government of the United Kingdom to issue the Tier 4 sponsorship. Most of the registered universities and colleges are licensed Tier 4 sponsors, and can issue the sponsorship. Once you have received the confirmation of acceptance of Studies (CAS) from your selected institute, then you can apply for the student visa through the proper channel.
- You must be 17 or over to apply for the TIER 4 general student visa.
- You can study a degree course in any independent university or college in the UK on your expense.
- You can do part-time work, and will be allowed to work 20 hours in a week during your course and full-time during vacations.
- You can also apply to extend your visa period from inside the UK to stay longer in the country to continue your education.
- You will not be able to apply for public funds or get admission in any local-authority funded universities or colleges.
- It takes 15 days to three months for the visa process so you will have to apply three months before the start of your course for TIER 4 (General) Student Visa.
- You cannot bring your family members (parents, wife and children) as dependents, they will have to apply separately for the dependent visa.
Tier 4 Child Student Visa
Tier 4 child student visa is awarded to those international students who are aged between 4 and 17. Students who are under 17 years of age cannot apply for a Tier 4 general student visa. To apply for a Tier 4 child student visa, students must get an admission offer from any independent school in the UK, and have enough money to cover their school fees and living expenses.
- If you are 16 years old or over then you can also work for 10 hours in a week during the course and full time during the vacations.
- You can get admission in any independent school in the UK, and can apply for the visa from outside the country.
- You will be allowed to apply for the extension of the visa to continue your studies according to the rules and procedures.
- You cannot apply for the public funds, and you will not be eligible to get admission in any local authority-funded school.
- You cannot apply for the full-time job in the UK on a Tier 4 child student visa.
- You will not be able to bring your family members (parents) as dependents, they will have to apply for the dependent visa separately.
How to apply for the student visa?
The application process for the student visa in the UK is quite simple, but you need to know the basic entry requirements for your visa application. If you are applying from outside the UK then you will have to apply online, but if you are applying from inside the UK then you will have to apply in person or by post. Learn more about Studying in the UK here.
- a) Get Admission in a UK’s Institute
To apply for the student visa, the first thing you need is to get admission in a registered institute of the UK. The institute will provide you a CAS form that will contain the detailed information about the terms and conditions of your admission. The form will contain the information about your personal information, the course and tuition fees of your program.
The CAS form will contain information about all your academic qualifications, your English language test, and your identification detail. The institute will allot you a personal reference number on your CAS, and the UK Visas and Immigration department will coordinate with your institute using your reference number. You will have to attach your CAS form with your student visa application.
- b) Visa Type
After the confirmation of the admission in the UK’s institute, you will have to choose the visa type according to your course duration and age. If you have applied for the short course with less than 12 month duration then you will have to apply for the Short-term study visa. If you have applied for school admission and your age is less than 17 then you will have to apply for the Tier 4 child study visa. If you are 17 years or above, and you have applied for a degree program or course more than 12 month duration then you will have to apply for a Tier 4 general study visa.
- c) Apply Online
Once you got the admission offer from any registered institute in the UK, and received the CAS letter, you can apply for the student visa. If you are applying from outside the UK, you will have to apply online throughgov.uk.
You will have to fill out an online application form that will have all the related details about your visa application, including your personal information, visa type, status of the institute and course. You will have to give the financial proof for your tuition fee and living expenses in the UK.
You will have to go through a biometric verification process, and you will have to go to the visa application center (situated in your country) for fingerprint scan and photograph. Successful visa applicants will be given a biometric residence permit.
- d) Document Required
Before applying for the student visa for the UK, you will have to produce the following documents to support your visa application. The final status of your application depends on the following documents.
- A valid passport and related travel documents.
- Your passport sized photograph.
- Your academic record including all educational documents.
- Proof of English language proficiency (IELTS).
- Evidence of funds to cover your tuition fee and living expenses in the UK.
- A copy of your Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) form and all other documents used to get the CAS.
- Tuberculosis screening Certificate (if required)
- Details about your family members including parents, siblings, wife and children.
If any of the above documents is not in English then you will have to get it translated from the related department from your country.
- e) Fee for the Student Visa
The UK Visas and Immigration will cost you a processing fee for your UK student visa application. The visa processing fee depends on your nationality and the type of visa you want to apply for. The processing fee will be non-refundable, and you will have to submit the fee with the application.
If you want to apply for the short-term student visa then the processing fee will be as followed.
- £186 for an 11 month short-term student visa
- £97 for a 6 month short-term student visa
If you want to apply for the Tier 4 general student visa or Tier 4 Child student visa, then the processing fee will be as followed
- £348 from outside the UK
- £475 from inside the UK
If you want to apply for the dependent visa for your family members then you will have to pay £348 for each dependent separately. Since the student visa fee structure changes from time to time so it is recommended that you follow the official source before applying. Review the University Help pages for other resources.
- f) Healthcare surcharge
Applicants may need to pay a mandatory immigration health surcharge with their application to get national healthcare services in the United Kingdom. The health surcharge amount depends on the duration of your course, the city where you will live and your age. You can calculate the healthcare surcharge from the gov.uk online calculator.
For Tier 4 student visa, healthcare surcharge varies from £300 to £400 per year and for short-term courses with 11 months or less duration, the healthcare surcharge will be £150. All the dependent will have to pay healthcare surcharge separately. The unsuccessful applicants will be given a refund of healthcare surcharge.
- g) Work while studying in UK
As an international student, you will be allowed to work part-time in the UK, but there are some restrictions on the working period depending on your course and visa status.
- If you are on a Tier 4 General student visa then you will be able to work part-time (20 hours in a week) during your course period and full time during the vacations.
- If you are on a Tier 4 Child student visa and you are 16 and above then you can work part-time (10 hours in a week) during your course period and full time during the vacations.
- If you are on a Short-term study visa then you cannot do any kind of work or internship in the UK.
- h) English language requirements
UK Visas and Immigration have a minimum requirement of English language skills including reading, writing, listening and speaking to live and study in the UK. The university or college may require a high English language skill level. You will have to provide evidence of your English language knowledge with your visa application.
In some countries, the applicants are called for an interview with the UKVI officers to verify the English language skills of the applicants, and the officer can refuse your application on the basis of the interview.
- i) Dependents visa
You can also bring your family members with you as dependents, but you will have to submit separate visa applications for each dependent. There are few restrictions in the dependent visa. You can bring your dependents only if you are enrolled in an under-graduation program more than 6 months duration or in a post-graduate program more than 12 months duration.
If you are 18 or above, and applied for a Tier 4 general study visa, then your spouse/children are considered as your dependents. If you have applied for a Tier 4 Child study visa, then your parents can be considered as your dependents. You will have to produce a good financial resource for your dependent.
The student visa application for the UK is very expensive, can cost you hundreds of pound, and for some trivial reason your application may be denied.You will have to do a thorough research to be successful with your visa application. British Council holds pre-departure briefings in many countries, and you should attend this briefing to get the guidance on your visa application.
You can’t study in the UK without a valid student visa, even if you are permitted to visit the UK as a tourist, and you have a valid visit visa. You will have to apply for the student visa status to get admission in the registered institutes of the UK. You can apply up to three months before the start of your course in the UK because the visa application process can take from 15 to 45 days.
In Partnership with The Tech Research Project