Applying for a Student Visa in the UK

If you are an International Student from outside the UK and wanting to study full time in the UK, most international students will require a Tier 4 (General) Student visa.

What are the visa requirements to study in the UK?

You must have:

  • An unconditional offer of a place on a full-time course and received your Confirmation of Acceptance for Study (CAS) from your university. The CAS is a reference number you must enter on your application form.
  • Enough money to support yourself and pay for your course – the amount will vary depending on your circumstances.

Before you apply for your visa

Check your eligibility to apply for your visa. To find out the full eligibility requirements, visit the UK Government website here

Check whether you need a Tuberculosis (TB) test – this depends on the country that you are ordinarily living in. A full list of countries and more details about the TB test can be found on the UK Government website.

Check your course offer letter to find out whether you will need an ATAS – Academic Technology Approval Scheme. This is required to study certain subjects at degree level in the UK.

Read the UK Home Office Guidance for Tier 4 students and use this document to complete your visa application

Visit the UKCISA – Preparing your application for a step-by-step guide of the visa application process

Top Tip: Start collating your supporting documents early and ensure that they are in the correct format – check the full list of documents you’ll likely need to provide.

How do I apply?

The easiest way to apply for your Tier 4 visa is to apply online. You will usually need to apply from outside the UK, in the country that you are normally living in.

Biometrics
Once your application form is complete, you will be asked to make an appointment to have your fingerprints and photograph taken at a local visa application centre. Find the centre nearest to you here.

Interviews
UKVI (UK Visa and Immigration) may ask you to attend an interview as part of the application process. This is normal procedure and nothing to worry about, but it helps if you are prepared!

The Visa and Immigration officer will ask you questions about yourself and your study aims, including details about your course and why you want to study for your degree in the UK – they need to make sure that you are a genuine student and that your main purpose coming to the UK is to study for your degree.

TOP TIP: Check your emails daily! – Once your application is submitted, UKVI will contact you with updates or requests for further information via email so make sure you check your email (including your spam or junk folder) regularly!

When can I apply and how much is it?

The earliest you can apply for your student visa is 3 months before the start date of your course, which you can find on your unconditional offer letter or your CAS.

The visa application fee for a Tier 4 (General) visa is £348, plus the healthcare surcharge (called the ‘Immigration Health Surcharge’, or ‘IHS’) that most international students will have to pay.

The IHS allows you to use the services of the NHS, the UK’s National Health Service for the duration of your studies.

If you apply for your visa online, you will pay the surcharge as part of the online application process. Typically, an undergraduate student applying for a 3-year course will be required to pay £300. Use this calculator to check how much IHS you will have to pay.

How long will it take to get my visa?

You can check the current visa processing times in your country using the tool on the UK Government website. For an additional fee, you may be able to use a priority service which will process your application quicker.

When can I travel?

Once you get your visa you can travel to the UK one month before the course starts, as long as your course lasts for more than six months. You will be issued with a temporary entry clearance “vignette” in your passport, valid for 30 days, which will allow you to enter the UK.

Biometric Residence Permit (BRP)
Once you have arrived in the UK you have to collect your BRP within ten days of the date you said you would arrive in the UK, even if you arrive later. The BRP is a small ID card that provides proof of your right to stay in the UK for the duration of your visa. You will need to collect your BRP from your university or from a post office.

Can I extend my Visa?

If at any point you would like to extend your visa you must meet the eligibility requirements, be in the UK and have a sponsor. The sponsor can be anyone in a higher education institute, an overseas higher education institution, an independent school or an embedded college offering pathway courses. To find out more or to apply for an extension click here.

You must apply within the six months of getting a confirmation of acceptance for studies (CAS) and before your current visa expires.