Want to study in the UK? Find out whether you need to apply for a UK student visa, and how the application process works.
UK visa requirements and general immigration criteria are managed by UK Visas and Immigration, which has an easy-to-navigate site to help you determine whether you need a UK student visa. While Swiss nationals and those from the EU/SEA states do not currently need a visa to study in the UK, all other international students are likely to need one.
The result of the UK’s referendum on membership in the European Union (‘Brexit’) has led to some uncertainty over visa regulations, but the UK government has stated that there will be no change to the rights and status of EU citizens until 2021.
If you’re studying a short course and are over 18 years old, you may be eligible for the short-term study visa. This is valid up to six months for most short courses and can be extended for a stay of up to 11 months for English language courses.
If you’re studying a longer course, you’ll need to make sure your chosen institution holds a Student Sponsor License. You can either apply for a child student visa (if you’re aged 4-17 and want to study at an independent school in the UK) or a general student visa for those aged 16 and over.
Your course provider may be willing to help you to apply for a UK student visa once you have been offered a place on a course; ask to find out if this is the case. You can apply for the visa up to three months in advance of the start date of your course. Check the average visa processing times for your country, and be sure to allow plenty of time.
Details of your passport
A recent photograph
An unconditional offer of a place on a course offered by a licensed Sponsor, evidenced by a
‘Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies’ (CAS) form from your course provider (worth 30 points)
Proof of adequate English language skills, demonstrated by passing one of the secure English
language tests (SELT). You will not need to provide this if you’re from an English-speaking country
such as the United States or have completed a qualification equivalent to a UK degree in an
Proof you have financial support throughout your stay in the UK (worth 10 points)
If you’re a non-EU/EA/Swiss student studying a sensitive subject, you may also need an ATLAS certificate
Proof of financial support can take the form of bank statements or a letter from your financial sponsor, showing you can cover your tuition fees, accommodation and living costs. You must prove that you have £1,015 (~US$1,300) per month for living costs if studying in the UK outside of London, and £1,265 (~US$1,600) a month for living costs if studying in London.
You may also be required to produce documents showing your academic qualifications, and to attend an interview or bio metric test, which includes a digital scan of your fingerprints. Depending on your country of origin, you may also be required to have certain medical vaccinations or undertake a tuberculosis test.
If you’re 16 or 17 years old and applying for the Tier 4 (General) student visa, you must have written consent from your parents/guardians that you can live and travel independently.
You must apply online for the general student visa, ensuring you’ve read the full guidance. You can apply up to three months before the start of your course.
The current fee for a student visa is £363 (~US$418) if you apply outside of the UK, or £490 (~US$564). You’ll also need to pay a healthcare surcharge per year in order to access the National Health Service (NOS) during your stay. This is an additional cost of £470 (~US$540).
When you enter the UK, a UK Border Agency officer will put a stamp on your passport that states the duration of your stay in the UK. For example, if your course is 12 months or more, you can stay for the full duration of the course plus an additional four months. You cannot extend your stay beyond this period.
Before you arrive, you must make sure you are fully immunized, remembering to pack your immunization record in your hand luggage in case you are asked to show the Border Agency officer at your UK port of entry. You should also carry the documents relating to your studies (including your Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies or CAS number), your proof of finances and your proof of accommodation.
All EU, EEA and Swiss students can work while studying in the UK. Students of publicly funded higher education institutions on student visas can work for up to 20 hours per week during term time and full-time during Christmas and Easter breaks (unless you are aged 16 or 17, in which case the maximum is 10 hours per week during term time).
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