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UK Student Visas for International Students

UK Student Visas for International Students

Going to university is a big adventure, and even more so if you come from overseas. There’s a lot more to think about if you are travelling to the UK to study. For instance, you will need a student visa to study anywhere in the UK. We know all the technical terms can be a little bit confusing, so we’ve put together this brief guide to UK student visas to help you to understand what you need.

In the following guide you will find out what student visas are available, the requirements and costs. We’ll also answer a few of the common questions asked about student visas for studying in the UK.

Types of Student Visas in the UK

For university study, there are two types of visas that allow you to study in the UK. These are the short-term study visa and the general student visa (Tier 4). Which type of visa you need depends on how long your course is and what you are doing in the UK. Each visa has it’s own requirements and restrictions.

Short-Term Study Visa

A short-term student visa is suitable for students that want to do a short course of study in the UK. This includes English language and training courses, as well as short periods of research as part of a degree course in another country.

Short-Term Study Visa Requirements

To apply for a short-term student visa you must be completing a short course of study in the UK and be from outside the European Economic Area (EEA – this includes EU countries, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway) and Switzerland. You must be over 18 to apply for this visa.

You must also have:

  • An offer on a course in the UK at an accepted place of study
  • Enough money to support yourself, or relatives/friends that can support you
  • The ability to pay for your journey back home (or onward journey)

There are also extra requirements for specific courses, you can find them on the UK government website.

You will also be asked to provide documents as evidence. This includes:

  • A valid passport (with a blank page for your visa)
  • Evidence that you can support yourself during your course
  • Details of where you intend to stay and any travel plans
  • Contact details of a parent of guardian in your home country
  • Proof of the course you are studying, such as:
    • Evidence of previous study
    • English language qualifications

If you are from a country where you have to take a TB test and coming to the UK for more than six months, you will also need to provide the results of this test. The list of countries that you need a TB test from can be found here.

You will need to make an appointment at your nearest UK Visa application centre, where you will be required to bring your documents as evidence. An interview is not compulsory, however you may be asked to attend one at the time of your appointment or shortly afterwards. If you are invited to an interview you must attend it.

The fee for a short-term study visa are £97 for a 6 month visa and £186 for an 11 month visa, at time of writing. Check updated fees here.

Common Questions About the Short-Term Study Visa

How to apply for a short-term study visa – to apply, simply follow the steps on the UK Government website.

Can I work with a UK Short-Term Study Visa? No, you can not work or carry out any business with a short-term student visa. You are also unable to complete work experience or work placements (with some exceptions).

Can I extend the UK Short-Term Study Visa? No, this visa can not be extended. If you want to lengthen your stay in the UK you will have to apply for a different visa.

How long can I stay in the UK after my Short-Term Study Visa expires? This depends on the length of your visa. You can stay for the length or your course and you may be allowed to stay for an extra 30 days if your total stay is no more than six months, or if your total stay is no more than eleven months and you are over 16 and studying an English language course.

When should I apply for a Short-Term Study Visa? you can apply up to three months before the date of your travel to the UK.

How long does it take to get a Short-Term Study Visa? You should receive the decision on your UK visa within three months of applying (though you can pay for a faster decision).

General Student Visa

Also known as a Tier 4 Student Visa, a UK General Student Visa is the one to apply for if you are taking a full course at University. This visa is only available to over 16 year olds.

General (Tier 4) Student Visa Requirements

To apply for a general student visa you must have been accepted onto a course of study in the UK and be from outside the European Economic Area (EEA – this includes EU countries, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway) and Switzerland.

You must also have:

  • been offered an unconditional place on a course with a licensed Tier 4 sponsor
  • Enough money to support yourself and pay for your course
  • The ability to read, write and understand English

There are also extra requirements if you plan to continue your studies after completing a course in the UK, you can find them on the UK government website.

You will also be asked to provide documents as evidence. This includes:

  • A valid passport (with a blank page for your visa)
  • Evidence that you can support yourself during your course
  • Confirmation of acceptance for study (CAS), this is a reference number sent by your education provider

For under 18 year olds, you also have to supply evidence of parent/guardian consent and prove the relationship to this parent or guardian.

If you are from a country where you have to take a TB test and coming to the UK for more than six months, you will also need to provide the results of this test. The list of countries that you need a TB test from can be found here.

You will need to make an appointment at your nearest UK Visa application centre, where you will be required to bring your documents as evidence. An interview is not compulsory, however you may be asked to attend one at the time of your appointment or shortly afterwards. If you are invited to an interview you must attend it.

The fee for a General Student Visa is £348, at time of writing. Check for updated prices here. You will also be required to pay a healthcare surcharge. The amount of this surcharge is different for different people, use the healthcare surcharge calculatorto find out how much you will be charged.

Common Questions About General (Tier-4) UK Student Visas

How to apply for a general student visa – to apply, simply follow the steps on the UK Government website.

Can I work with a UK General Student Visa? Yes, you are able to work. Normally it is for a maximum of 20 hour a week, but this depends on the level of your course and what kind of sponsor you have. There are also certain jobs that you are not allowed to do, so check before you accept a job.

Can I extend the UK General Student Visa? Yes, if you want to start a new course or stay longer to continue your course you can extend this visa. Though you must be in the UK when you apply, have a sponsor and meet eligibility requirements. You can find out more about extending a Tier 4 Student Visa in the UK here.

How long can I stay in the UK after my General Student Visa expires? You can not stay in the UK after your visa expires, and there is no grace period. If you wish to stay longer you must apply to extend your visa or apply for a different visa if you are no longer planning to study. However, you can arrive in the UK before your course starts. If your course is less than six months long you can arrive a week before, if the course will last longer than six months you can arrive one month before your course starts.

When should I apply for a General Student Visa? you can apply up to three months before your course starts.

How long does it take to get a General Student Visa? You should receive the decision on your UK visa within three months of applying (though you can pay for a faster decision).

If your planning to study in the UK from overseas, it’s important that you get the right visa for your course. You must also be aware of the restrictions of the visa and what to do if you wish to stay longer.

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