What Is a Student Visa?

If you are wondering about the answer to the question ‘what is a student visa’, you have come to the right place.

So, what is a student visa

A student visa is a document which allows overseas students to study in the UK. There are 2 types of student visas: a short-term study visa, and a Tier 4 (General) student visa.

If you are studying on a short course (less than 6 months) and you are over 18 years old, you may be eligible for a short-term study visa.

If your course is longer than 6 months because it is a degree-level course, you may be eligible for a Tier 4 (General) student visa.

How long can you stay in the UK on a Student Visa?

There are time limits on how long you can stay in the UK on a student visa.

How long you can stay on a student visa depends on the length of your course and what study you have already completed in the UK.

If you are 18 or over and your course is at degree level, you can usually stay in the UK for up to 5 years.

If it is below degree level, you can usually stay in the UK for up to 2 years.

Read the UK Government guidance here to find out exactly how long you can stay.

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What requirements are there to get a Student Visa?

The UK has a points-based system for immigration applications. To make a successful student visa application, you must achieve 70 points and meet the full requirements of the rules.

To apply for a student visa, you must meet the following requirements:

  • You must be 16 or over
  • You must have been offered a place on a course by a licenced student sponsor
  • You must have enough money to support yourself and pay for your course
  • You must be able to speak, read, write and understand English
  • If you are 16 or 17, you must have consent from your parents that you are allowed to study in the UK, which you will have to provide supporting evidence of

What is a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS)?

After your education provider has offered you a place on the course, they will send you a reference number called a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS).

You must enter this reference number on your student visa application.

You must apply for your student visa within 6 months of receiving your CAS.

How long does it take to get a Student Visa?

The Home Office will assess your application and make a decision within 3 weeks.

If you are arriving from outside the UK, the earliest you can apply for a student visa is 6 months before you start your course.

If you are applying from inside the UK, the earliest you can apply for a student visa 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.

You may be able to pay a fee to get a faster decision on your visa application- you will be told this when you apply.

You should start preparing the paperwork to apply for your student visa months in advance, so you can have all the correct information to hand.

How much does a Student Visa cost?

It costs:

  • £363 to apply for a Student visa from outside the UK
  • £490 to extend or switch to a Student visa from inside the UK

You also have to pay a healthcare surcharge fee as part of your immigration application. You must complete the payment and return back to the online application in less than 30 minutes.

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

You must also provide financial evidence to prove that you can cover your tuition fees, accommodation costs and living costs.

This financial evidence may be in the form of bank statements or a letter from your financial sponsor.

If you are studying in London, you must prove that you have £1,265 per month for living costs.

If you are studying in the UK outside of London, you must prove that you have £1,015 per month for living costs.

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Can I bring my partner and children with me on my Student Visa?

Yes, you may be able to bring your partner and children with you to the UK as your ‘dependents’.

A dependant partner or child could be your husband, wife, civil partner, unmarried pattern, or child under 18.

You will need to provide evidence of the relationship between you and your dependents when you apply- this could be a marriage certificate or your child’s birth certificate.

Read more about bringing dependants with you on a student visa on the UK Government website here.

Can I extend my Student Visa?

You may be able to extend your Student visa to stay longer and continue your course or study a new course. This includes if you currently have a Tier 4 (General) student visa.

To extend your visa, you must achieve 40 points in the points-based system and fulfil certain requirements, including:

  • you must be in the UK on a Student visa or a Tier 4 (General) student visa.
  • you must have an unconditional offer of a place on a course with a licenced student sponsor- shown by your Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS).
  • you must show that your studies are at a higher academic level than your current course (called the ‘academic progress requirement’) – there are some exceptions.

If you have been in the UK with a valid visa for less than 12 months, you must prove you have enough money for tuition and accommodation fees and living expenses.

Your partner or children will need to apply separately to extend their visa. They can either apply at the same time as you, or at any time before their current visa expires.

You can also switch to a Graduate Visa to stay in the UK for at least 2 years after successfully completing your course. You must be in the UK when you apply for a Graduate Visa.

Read the UK Government’s advice here to find out more about extending your student visa.

What documents do I need to apply for a Student Visa?

You need to provide the following documents when you apply for a student visa. You may be required to submit additional documents if applicable.

If you are under 18, you will need to provide proof that your parents/legal guardian consents to you studying and living in the UK, applying for a student visa, and travelling to the UK.

You will also need to provide proof of your relationship with your parent or guardian.

You may be told to leave 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.

  • Photographic ID (which must be a recent photo)
  • Current passport or other valid travel documentation
  • An unconditional offer of a place on a course, offered by a licenced Sponsor, evidenced by a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) document from your education provider
  • Proof of adequate English language skills
  • Evidence that you have financial support throughout your stay in the UK
  • A valid ATAS certificate (if your course and nationality require it)
  • Your tuberculosis test results (must be negative)

How do you apply for a Student Visa?

Apply online using the application form on the UK Government website.

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

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When can a Student Visa be denied?

Your application for a student visa may be rejected if:

  • You have missing or incomplete documents.
  • You have no intention of returning home.
  • If you have insufficient funds in your bank account and you cannot show that you have the money required for the last 28 continuous days before you submit the application.
  • If your financial evidence is incorrect or fraudulent.
  • If your financial documents are more than 31 days old.
  • You have failed any background checks.
  • Your travel history to other countries.
  • You are unprepared during the interview.
  • You cannot meet the academic standards of the education course.

What can I do if my Student Visa application is rejected?

  • Reapply after your application gets rejected
  • Lodge an appeal, if there is a right to it
  • Opt for reconsideration (if applicable)

Your next steps if your student visa application has been rejected:

How can I make sure my Student Visa application is successful?

  • Don’t leave the application until the last minute.
  • Double-check that you meet all the requirements.
  • Prepare you’re your visa interview.
  • Make sure the money in your bank account does not decrease below the required level during the 28 days before you submit your application.
  • Make sure your financial documents are recent and were issued within the last 31 days.
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Can you work on a Student Visa?

Yes, if you are an international student on a student visa and you are studying full time on a degree-level course, you are permitted to work up to 20 hours per week during University term time.

You can work full-time outside term time, which includes before the course starts, the summer, Christmas and Easter, on work placements, and after your period of study in the UK has ended.

You are allowed to work as a student union sabbatical officer.

While on a student visa, you cannot:

  • claim public funds (benefits) and pensions
  • work in certain jobs, e.g. 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)

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We hope we have answered the question ‘what is a student visa’.

To find out more about Synergy Immigration Solutions and our visa services, visit our website here.

Enquire about a Student Visa here.

To contact us, call us on 020 315 05359, email info@synergy-immigration.com or fill in our online contact form here.

Read more articles about visas and immigration-related enquiries on our blog here.

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