UK visa requirements
A visa is a certificate (sometimes referred to as ‘Entry Clearance’) which gives you permission to enter the UK.
The visa is put into your passport or travel document by an Entry Clearance Officer at a British mission overseas.
If you are travelling to the UK to be a student, you may need to apply for a visa to enter the UK.
Each year, thousands of international students successfully gain a visa to study in the United Kingdom. The UK government welcomes international students, and there is no limit on the number of student visas that can be issued. UK immigration and visas are managed by the UK government.
Do I need a visa?
This depends on your nationality and immigration status. You can find out if you need a UK visa.
When should I apply for a visa?
It is important to apply well before you intend to begin your course. Many students do not realise how long the process will take, and do not leave enough time. Your application may require you to:
• have certain vaccinations or – if you are coming from a tuberculosis high-risk area – a chest x-ray
• produce documents showing your finances and qualifications
• attend an interview or a biometric test.
Average visa processing times vary depending on your country. You can get an idea from UK Visas and Immigration: Visa processing times.
What kind of visa do I need?
The following two visas are suitable for students who want to do a short course, or an 11-month English language course:
• Child visitor visa: You can apply if you are 17 years old or under and you want to study in the UK for up to 6 months (or 12 months if you will be accompanying an academic visitor).
• Student visitor visa: You can apply if you are 18 years old or over and you want to study in the UK for up to 6 months. If you want to study purely English language courses, you can apply for an extended student visitor visa to stay for up to 11 months.
The following two visas allow you to do a longer course in the UK. Your course must be at a school, college or university on the register of licensed sponsors.
• Tier 4 (Child) student visa: You can apply if you are between 4 and 17 years old. If you are between 4 and 15 years old, you must be coming to the UK to be educated at an independent, fee-paying school.
• Tier 4 (General) student visa: You can apply if you want to study in the UK after the age of 16. You need to meet certain eligibility requirements – click here for details.
On 22 May 2014, the UK Home Office issued further guidance on secure English language test (SELT) providers. We encourage you to check the full text and FAQ here.
Working in the UK
If you come to the UK on a student visitor visa, child visitor visa, or prospective student visa, you are not eligible to work in the UK. Some students who enter on a Tier 4 student visa are eligible to work a certain number of hours per week and in the holiday periods.
Student Visa Rules – An Introduction
You need 40 points to apply for a student visa. This is achieved by:
1. Course confirmation: you must receive a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) from a university approved by UK Visa and Immigration (UKVI).
All universities must have been given or applied for Highly Trusted Status (HTS) on the UKVI Tier 4 Sponsor list (30 points). ‘A rated’ colleges can also issue CAS numbers. The ‘A’ rating is a transitional rating for 12 months and all ‘A rated’ colleges must apply for HTS status within this 12 month transition period. All universities on the Study London website have Highly Trusted Status (HTS).
2. Funding: you must provide evidence of funding to pay for both your course tuition fees and your monthly living costs (10 points).
Tuition fees are on average £11,000 per year but can range from £8,000 to £36,000. You will also need at least £1,020 for each month of your studies to pay for living costs if you live in inner London. If you live in outer London you will need £820 a month.
Visit the UK Visa and Immigration website to check the full eligibility criteria for a UK study visa. You can also read further guidance on the UKCISA website.
Remember, you can only apply for a visa once you have been given a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies. Check you are eligible for a UK Student Visa but do not apply until after you have been accepted onto a course. Your chosen university can guide you through the visa process once you have been accepted onto a course.
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