A Student visa is a legal document that lets students from overseas study in the UK. You can apply for 2 different types of Student visas a Tier 4 (General) Student visa or a Short-term Study visa.
The Student visa is for those whose courses are longer than 6 months as a result of them being degree-level courses.
A Short-term Study visa is suited to those who are studying a shorter course that lasts for less than 6 months.
The earliest that you can apply for a Student visa if you are outside of the UK is 6 months before your course is due to begin.
You should aim to have all of the documentation you need about 3 months before you begin your application so that you can ensure that you have all the necessary paperwork that you are going to need.
All visa applications are processed by the Home Office and usually, you will hear back from them with the results of your application in around 3 weeks.
Who can apply for a Student visa?
Firstly you will need to be 16 years older or over, apart from this you will be eligible to apply for a Student visa if:
- You have had a place on a course offered to you by a licensed student sponsor.
- You can read, write and speak English.
- You have enough money so that you can pay for your course and support yourself throughout your studies – the amount can be different depending on your personal circumstances.
- If you are 16 or 17 you must have consent from your parents. Evidence for this will be required in the application process.
If you are 16 or 17 and are wanting to study in the UK at an independent school you could be eligible for a Child Student visa instead so make sure to check out both so you will be sure which one will work best for you.
Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS)
After you have been offered a place on your course, you will be sent a reference number called a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies by your education provider. You will need this for your Student visa application.
You must make sure that you apply for your visa within 6 months of receiving your Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies.
What do you need to provide in the application process?
There are various documents that you are going to need to apply for a Student visa. We have compiled a list to help:
- A (CAS) Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies – this is your proof that you have been offered a place on a course by a licenced sponsor.
- Your current passport – or another valid travel document.
- Proof of your ability to pay for your course and financially support yourself for the duration of the course.
- If your course and nationality require it you may need a valid ATAS certificate.
- If you are under 18 you will need proof of parental consent or consent from a legal guardian.
- If you are under 18 you will also need proof of your relationship with your legal guardian or parent.
- Tuberculosis test results (which must be negative) if they are required of you. Check out this page to find out if this applies to you.
- If you have received sponsorship for your course fee and or living costs in the last 12 months you will need written consent from your financial sponsor.
How much does it all cost?
To apply for a Student visa from outside of the UK it costs £363. To further extend or change your Student visa from within the UK it will cost you £490 and there is another visa fee for each person that joins you.
You will also need to pay the healthcare surcharge in your application process. The cost of this will vary depending on how long your visa lasts.
Ensure that you check what your healthcare surcharge will be before you start the application process.
Proving that you can financially support yourself
You must be able to demonstrate that you will be able to support yourself throughout the duration of your studies.
You must show that you have enough money to pay for 1 academic year (up to 9 months) of your course. This amount will be found on your Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies.
The amount you will need to prove that you can financially support yourself changes slightly depending on where exactly you are going to be studying.
- If you are studying in London you will need £1,334 per month (for up to 9 months).
- If you are studying outside of London you will need £1,023 per month.
- If you are going to be boarding at a residential independent school you will need to pay for boarding fees instead and this amount will be found on your CAS.
There are some circumstances where you may not be required to prove that you have enough money to support yourself. You do not need to prove this if:
- You have already been in the UK on a valid visa for 12 months before the date of your Student visa application.
- If you are from a county that is listed under ‘differential evidence requirement’.
- You’ll need to show you have enough money to support yourself – unless you’ve been on the date you apply for your Student visa.
- You are applying as a sabbatical officer for a student union.
- You are applying to a recognised foundation programme as a postgraduate doctor or dentist.
What can you do and what can’t you do on a Student visa?
Whilst living in the UK on a Student visa there are certain things that you are permitted to do and some that you cannot.
- Work as a student union sabbatical officer.
- Depending on what you are studying and whether or not you would be working in or outside of term time you might be able to have a job.
- Work in certain job roles such as sports coach or professional sportsperson.
- Work as self-employed.
- Claim any public funds like pensions or benefits.
- Study at a local authority-funded school or an academy.
Knowledge of English
Certain people need to prove their knowledge of the English language for their Student visa application go to gov.uk to find out if this applies to you. If you are among these people you can prove your knowledge of English by:
- Taking and passing a Secure English Language Test (SELT) from an approved provider.
- Having a GCSE, A level, Scottish National Qualification level 4 or 5, Scottish Higher or Advanced Higher in English that you gained through study at a UK school that you began when you were younger than 18.
What level of English language knowledge is required?
The level of English that you can read wrote and speak depends on what level of study your course is. The level of English is measured using the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) scale.
If the course that you are studying is degree level or above you will need an equivalent to CEFR level B2.
If the course that you are studying is below degree level then you will need an equivalent to CEFR level B1.
Read more articles about visas and immigration-related enquiries on our blog here.
How long can you stay in the UK on a Student Visa?
There is, like with most visas, a time limit to how long you can stay in the UK on your Student visa. The length of time that your visa allows you to stay will vary depending on what your course is, how long it lasts and if and what study you have already completed in the UK.
Generally, if your course is at degree level and you are 18 years old or over you will be able to stay for up to 5 years. If it is below degree level you are normally able to stay for up to 2 years.
Make sure you check out your course in relation to your visa so that you will have a more specific idea of how long this could be for you.
You of course may be able to stay longer by extending your visa or switching.
If you are eligible you may be able to switch to a Graduate visa and stay in the UK for at least 2 years after finishing your course.
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