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Everything you need to know when applying for a UK student visa

Wed 24 Jul 2019

Choosing your accommodation and finding clubs to join can be the most exciting part of studying abroad. But before you can get down to the fun bits, you must have your paperwork in order. For a student visa, UK portals allow applications up to three months in advance, and it’s important to get all of your documents sorted and translated before you apply.

It can seem like a complicated process if you’re getting a visa for the very first time, so start planning as early as possible. Here’s everything you need to know about getting a UK student visa.


Which student visa do I need?  

There are three different student visas. These are:

  • Tier 4 General student visa

For students aged 16+ taking a course at a UK educational institution. This allows you to arrive up to one month before your course start date.

  • Tier 4 Child student visa

For students aged between 4 and 17 taking a course at a UK educational institution with a valid Tier 4 sponsor (such as a fee-paying school). This allows you to arrive up to one month before your course start date.

  • Short-term study visa

For students taking a short-term course that is generally 6 months or less, with the exception of pure English course which can be as long as up to 11 months.  You can generally arrive up to one week before.

Please note that in order to qualify for a Tier 4 student visa, you must have an unconditional offer from an educational institution. If you’re unsure whether you require a visa, visit the GOV.UK website to find out more. 


How much does a visa cost?

When arranging your finances for studying in the UK, you need to account for the cost of a visa application. If you are applying from outside of the UK, it will cost £348. If you are eligible to extend visa in the UK, the cost is £475 for standard service or an extra £800 if you use super priority service for a quicker decision. There’s also a health surcharge of £300 per year, which gives you access to the National Health Service (NHS).

In addition to these costs, to be eligible you must also be able to demonstrate that you have the funds to cover living costs whilst studying in the UK. This varies by your study location. Please see our guidance on financial evidence here for more details.


How to apply for a UK student visa

To apply for a UK study visa, you will need to use the GOV.UK application portal. For Tier 4 visas, be sure to have an up-to-date passport, your CAS (Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies) number and other supporting documents such as evidence of funds and academic documents used to obtain your CAS. You will also need to provide signed Parental Consent letter and proof of relationship if you are under 18 years old.

Other documents you may need include a tuberculosis screening (if you are applying from a listed country), or an Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) clearance certificate (required for certain sensitive course subjects). If you are applying from a country of which you are not a citizen, or are travelling with dependents, you may also be asked to provide further documentation.

For any documents that are not in English, please note that you will need to have these translated. Any translated copies must include the date and the translator’s name and signature to confirm its accuracy.

As a part of your visa application, you will have to complete the following:

  • A biometric residence permit

You will need to make an appointment with UKVI to have a digital photo taken, and to have your fingers and thumbs scanned.


Working while studying in the UK

It is possible to work part-time in the UK during your studies depending on the type of visa you hold and type of Tier 4 sponsor. Note that work restrictions apply too. Please visit our visa guidance website for more details.

Get more UK visa advice online, or find out more about why it’s so great to study here in the UK.

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