United Kingdom Student Visa Guide

Visa and Permits in the UK

The visa system in the UK for students has undergone a few changes. Here’s all about the types of student visas in the UK:

Student Visa (Previously Tier 4 Visa)

On October 5, 2020, the Tier 4 visa became the Student Route, which falls under the new points-based immigration system. Anyone who is 16 or above and wishes to study at a UK higher education institution will have to apply for a student visa. 

The Graduate Route is expected to open for international students on June 1, 2021. The new route will open to foreign students who have completed their bachelors or doctoral degree in the UK and have a history of compliance with the immigration requirements in the UK. However, visas that have been issued through the Tier 4 route will remain valid.

Short-term Student Route (Previously Short-term Study Visas)

Short-term student route visas are for students who want to enrol in English language programmes up to 11 months long or other programmes up to six months long.

Other Types of Visa

Foreign applicants who are aged between four and 17 years old and wish to study at an independent school in the UK can apply for a Child Student Visa. He/she should also be able to prove they will have access to enough money to study and live in the UK.

Also Read: Indian Student Visas Granted in the UK Doubles Over Last Year

UK Student Visa Rules & Regulations

International students looking to pursue higher education in the UK must apply for a Student Visa and abide by these rules:

  • The length of stay in the UK would depend on the length of the course and what the applicant's current qualification is.

  • International students will be allowed to extend their visa is they continue their studies in the UK, switch to a Student visa from another visa in case they are already in the UK or if they find a job after studying in the UK.

  • After receiving the UK Student Visa, the student must arrive in the UK before their course starts (up to one week before if the length of the course is 6 months or less; and up to one month before if the course is longer than 6 months).

  • Children or partners of the applicant may be allowed to come to the UK if the applicant is a full-time postgraduate student that lasts 9 months or longer; a Doctorate Extension Scheme student; or a new student sponsored by the government of the UK to study a course longer than 6 months.

  • The dependant should be a husband, wife, civil partner, unmarried partner, a child under 18 years old. The applicant will be required to provide evidence of the relationship.

  • Only those who already have permission to stay in the UK can switch to a Student Visa.

  • Students aged 16 or above are allowed to allowed part-time even if they are limited to participating in a course-related work placement.

  • Students who are allowed to work while studying can do so for maximum weekly hours in a term time and full-time outside term time.

  • Once the student has completed his/her course, they may work full-time, leave and re-enter the UK to work.

  • The new Graduate Route (opening for applications on July 1, 2021) will let international students who have completed their undergraduate or doctoral degree in the UK to work for up to two and three years respectively.

Eligibility Criteria to Apply for a UK Student Visa

Only those who meet the following criteria can apply for a UK Student Visa:

  • Have been admitted to a course by a licensed student sponsor

  • Have proven that they have enough money to support themselves and pay for their course

  • Must be able to speak, read, write and understand English

  • If one is 16 or 17, then they must have consent from their parents.

Best Time to Apply for a UK Student Visa

The right time to apply for a UK student visa would depend on where a student is applying from:

If Applying from Outside the UK

Applying six months before the start of the course would be ideal. The decision is usually communicated within three weeks. 

If Applying from Inside the UK

The best time would be three months before the course commences and before one’s current UK visa expires. The decision is usually communicated within eight weeks. 

Duration of Stay on a UK Student Visa

This would vary on the basis of the length of the course and what degree the applicant has already completed. If the student is 18 or above and the course is at degree level, he/she can stay in the UK for up to five years. In case it is below degree level, then he/she would be allowed to stay in the UK for up to two years.  

Can One Stay Longer in the UK

One can stay longer in the UK by:

  • Extending their visa if they are eligible, for instance, if they continue their studies in the UK.

  • Switching to a Student visa from another visa if they are already in the UK.

UK Student Visa Fees

A UK Student Visa would cost:

  • £348 when applying from outside the UK

  • £475 to extend or switch to a Student visa from inside the UK

Note: Separate fees should be paid for each person that joins you to the UK.

Dos & Don'ts for an International Student on a UK Student Visa

An international student with a UK Student Visa can:

Dos:

  • Work as a student union sabbatical officer

  • Study

  • Work depending on what he/she is studying and whether they are working in or out of term-time

An international student with a UK Student Visa cannot:

Don'ts:

  • Work in certain jobs including as a professional sportsperson or sports coach

  • Claim public funds and pensions

  • Be self-employed

  • Study at a local authority-funded/maintained school or n academy

Courses an International Student Can Study on a UK Student Visa

A UK Student Visa allows an international student to take up one of the following courses:

  • a full-time course leading to a below degree level qualification with a minimum of 15 hours a week of daytime study.

  • a full-time course leading to a degree level or above qualification.

  • a degree-level or above full-time course equivalent to a UK higher education course and is being delivered as part of a longer course abroad

  • a part-time course leading to an above degree level qualification 

  • a recognised foundation course for postgraduate dentists or doctors

  • an English language course at B2 level or above in the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages

The qualification levels will be different in Scotland.

An international student can also apply for the Student Visa if they are:

  • Planning on becoming a full-time elected Student Union Sabbatical Officer

  • Applying to extend your stay on the Doctorate Extension Scheme

Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS)

A reference number called the CAS will be sent to the student once they’ve offered him/her a place on the course. The same shall be entered on the visa application, which one should apply for within six months of receiving the CAS.

How to Apply for a UK Student Visa

Here are the steps that one needs to follow while applying for a UK Student Visa:

  • Step 1: One must check if they qualify for a UK student visa or not. For the same, one must have a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) and evidence to prove that they have enough money to finance their studies.

  • Step 2: The applicant must keep all the required documents handy.

  • Step 3: Apply. Applicants can either apply online by completing the student visa application and submitting it on the official UK visa website or they can print and sign the application form and book an appointment at the visa application centre.

  • Step 4: Pay the application fee using the available methods i.e. online, at the visa application centre, demand draft from a nationalised or foreign bank, or at Standard Chartered Bank.

  • Step 5: As part of the visa application process, one will have to prove their identity which will vary according to their home country and the type of passport they hold. However, one would have to either give their fingerprints and a photograph at a visa application centre, or use the ‘UK Immigration: ID Check’ app to scan their identity document.

Documents Required for the UK Student Visa

Students must submit the following documents for obtaining UK Student Visa –

  • Passport or a Valid Travel Documentation

  • A CAS (Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies) from the university

  • Proof justifying that they can support themselves and pay the course fee in the UK (Proof of Financial Capability)

  • Details of their intended place of stay

  • their Tuberculosis test results

  • a valid ATAS certificate if their nationality or course requires it

  • Proof of  consent of parent/guardian if the student is below 18 years of age

  • Proof of their relationship with their parent or guardian if they are under 18

  • Written consent for application from their financial sponsor in case they have received sponsorship for their tuition fees and living expenses over the past year

Also Read: Details on the list of documents required for Indian students to apply for UK Visa 

How to Extend a UK Student Visa

One may be able to extend their UK Student Visa to stay longer in the UK or start a new course. (It also applies to those with a UK Tier 4 Visa).

To extend a UK Student Visa, one should:

  • have an unconditional course offer with a licensed student sponsor.

  • Display that their studies are at a higher academic level than the current course.

  • If the applicant has been in the UK with a valid visa for less than 12 months, he/she will need to prove that they have enough money to support themselves in the UK.

Where to Apply for a UK Student Visa in India

Although students can apply for a UK Student Visa online, here is the list of all the visa application centres in India:

Delhi

VFS Global Services Pvt. Ltd.

Mezzanine Floor, Baba Kadak Singh Marg, Shivaji Stadium Metro Station,

Connaught Place, New Delhi 110001

Maharashtra

VFS Global Services Pvt. Ltd.

Urmi Axis Building, 1st Floor, Behind Famous Studio, Opp E Moses Road,

Mahalaxmi West, Mumbai 400011

Tamil Nadu

VFS Global Services Pvt. Ltd.

Fagun Towers, Second Floor, No 74,

Ethiraj Salai, Egmore, Chennai 600008

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