Student Visa

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International students need a visa to come and study in the UK. Students over the age of 16 need the General Student Visa (Tier 4). Younger students need the Children Student Visa (Tier 4).

How To Apply

T4 Student Visa applications are submitted online. Students cannot apply for the visa more than three (3) months before the start of their course date. They must also have received an unconditional offer of admission by a licensed Tier 4 sponsor before they can apply.

Visa Sponsor Institutions

In the UK, the student visa is sponsored by the institution that the student will be studying at. List of institutions that are licensed to sponsor migrants under Tier 4 are listed here.

Course Eligibility Criteria

General Student Visa is only issued for a course that meets one of the following criteria:

  • Full-time leading to a qualification that’s at least level 6 on the Ofqual Register of Regular Qualifications
  • Part-time leading to a qualification that’s at least level 7 on the Ofqual Register of Regular Qualifications
  • An overseas course of degree level study that’s equal to a UK higher education course and is being run by an overseas higher education institution
  • Full-time, with at least 15 hours per week of organised daytime study, leading to a qualification which is at least level 3 on the Ofqual Register of Regular Qualifications
  • A recognised foundation programme as a postgraduate doctor or dentist
  • An English language course at level B2 or above on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages

Documents Required For General Student Visa (Tier 4)

Students need to submit a series of supporting documents as part of their online student visa application. To find out which documents your student needs, check the list of documents you must provide.

In general, students need the following documents:

  • A current passport or other valid travel documentation
  • Confirmation of acceptance for studies (CAS)
  • Biometrics Information
  • Proof of knowledge of English
  • Proof that they can pay the tuition, and support themselves (and any other family members travelling with them)
  • Proof of parental or other legal guardian consent if student is under 18
  • Proof of student’s relationship with the said parent or guardian if they’re under 18
  • Tuberculosis test results if the student is coming from one of the countries where you need a TB test to enter the UK
  • Immigration healthcare surcharge fee

Confirmation Of Acceptance For Studies (CAS)

Education providers will send students a reference number called a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) with the offer of admission. Students will need to provide this number on their student visa application.

Biometric Information

When the student submits their visa application, they will be asked to make an appointment at a visa application center to provide their biometric information (fingerprints and a photo).

Once the student arrives in the UK, they will be able to obtain their Biometric Residence Permit (BRP). BRP is a legal document detailing the student’s name, date and place of birth; biometric information; immigration status and conditions of stay; and, whether the student has access to any public services or benefits, such as healthcare services.

Students' visa decision letter will indicate where they can pick up the BRP, and when it must be picked up by.

Knowledge Of English

The UK Government requires students to have a certain level of English language knowledge when they apply for a student visa. The student visa English language requirements can be different than those needed for admission into the desired course.

One of the ways a student can demonstrate their knowledge of English is by passing a government-approved Secure English language test (SELT), but this is not always required. Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) can often make their own language assessment based on the qualifications submitted during the admission process and waive the SELT requirements.

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Financial Capacity

Students must show that they will have enough money to cover the cost and expenses of their travel and stay in the UK. This includes the cost of travel, course fees, living costs, and any other school expenses and fees. Students must have sufficient funds for the first year of study, or for the entire course if it is less than a year long. If the student is coming with a partner and/or dependents, they must also have enough money to cover their family’s expenses.

Students can demonstrate their ability to support themselves (and their family if applicable) financially by providing copies of their bank statements, details of any loans they are taking on, and information about any scholarships they have been awarded.

The monthly living costs that students will need to show will depend on where they will be studying in the UK as the cost of living is much higher in London. In October 2019, the UK government determined the cost of living to be:

  • £1,265 per month for students studying in London for the majority of their study (more than 50% of your study time)
  • £1,015 per month for students studying outside London or anywhere else in the UK for the majority of your study (more than 50% of your study time).

The costs may change over time. We recommend consulting the UK Government’s website for General Student Visa before applying.

Healthcare Surcharge

As part of the visa application fees, students will be asked to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) for themselves, and anyone travelling with them. The IHS helps to fund the UK healthcare system, and gives students access to free healthcare while living in the UK. This means that students will not have to pay to visit a doctor’s surgery, healthcare centre or hospital.

They may need to pay for dental and optical treatment and any medicine prescribed to you by a doctor.

Length Of Stay

The T4 Student Visa is typically issued for the full study duration. For courses that last over six months, students can arrive in the UK up to one month before, and stay for up to four months after the end of the course. As of September 2018, Master’s students (not postgraduate certificate or diploma) can stay in the UK for up to six months after completing their studies.

Students can apply to extend their visa if they decide to enrol in another course after completing their current course. They can also apply for work-related visas if they find employment before the end of their student visa expires.

Learn more about work-related visas in the Post-Graduation Work and Stay section of this guide.

Visa Processing Time

Visa decisions are generally made within three (3) weeks of attending the biometrics appointment at the visa application center. The visa processing times for each country can be reviewed here.

Travelling With Family

Students sponsored by a higher education institution on a course at level 7 or above that lasts nine (9) months or more can apply to bring their dependant family members with them to the UK.

A dependent is either:

  • The student’s husband, wife or civil partner
  • The student’s unmarried or same-sex partner
  • The student’s child under 18 years old—including if they were born in the UK during your stay