The UK student visa is one of the most sought-after UK visas. You need this visa to attend a university in the UK, to take a further or higher education course.
Millions of people apply for the UK student visa per year, which means the quota is always filled up. With such high competition, the least you can do not to dwindle your chances is to ensure you file your application correctly.
In this World Travel Pride post, you’ll find all the details you need to know about the UK student visa so that you can file a complete application. It also covers what you should do when you arrive in the UK and during your stay.
Read on to find out more.
What Is The UK Student Visa?
The UK student visa permits foreigners to enter and study at a university in the UK. It was formerly known as the Tier 4 student visa, but now it’s simply the Student Visa.
The UK student visa has many weighty requirements, which you’ll find out later. You can apply from outside or inside the UK. For the latter, you’ll be switching your status, so it’s relatively more straightforward.
While studying in the UK, you can work as a student union sabbatical officer. You can also work in other occupations, but it depends on the course of study and when you want to work.
However, you cannot be self-employed, access public funds, or study in a maintained school. The UK Home Office Visas and Immigration department will clearly specify what you can and cannot do on your student visa.
When your visa expires, you may be able to extend your stay if you’re not done with your studies. Alternatively, you may switch to a different visa type, like the Graduate Visa.
UK Student Visa Eligibility
The UK student visa has four main eligibility requirements.
First, you must have been offered unconditional admission by a licensed educational institution in the United Kingdom. When you get an admission offer, you’ll receive a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) number, which is compulsory for your application. Your course can be a degree or above degree level.
Secondly, you must have enough money to support your stay in the UK to be eligible. In other words, you must have enough funds to cover your tuition fees, accommodation, and day-to-day expenses. The amount will depend on the circumstances of your application.
Thirdly, you must demonstrate that you can speak, read, write, and understand English. You automatically meet this eligibility requirement if you’re from a native-English-speaking country or any specifically exempt country.
Fourth, you must be up to 18 years to apply for a UK student visa. If you’re 16 or 17 years, you may still be eligible to apply if you provide written and signed consent from your parents.
Details On The Finance Requirement
You must be able to support yourself financially while taking the course and living in the UK. Your financial needs will vary depending on your situation and the type of admission you seek.
You require enough cash to cover your tuition for one academic year, which equals about nine months in the UK. You’ll find the required payment amount on your Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS).
The amount of money you’ll require also depends on where you’ll attend school. You’ll need one of the following:
- £1,334 monthly for a maximum of nine months if your school is in London.
- £1,023 monthly for a maximum of nine months if your school is outside London.
Note that London refers to the 32 boroughs of London and the City of London. You must pay boarding costs if you are boarding at an independent residential school. Again, Your CAS will contain how much you must pay.
These required funds must be in your possession for at least 28 days in a row. The 28th day needs to be 31 days or less after the day your visa application is submitted.
However, not everyone needs to prove financial eligibility. You don’t have to if you’re on a scholarship. For that, you must present documentation from your loan or sponsorship company proving that you have financial sponsorship or a student loan.
Furthermore, you don’t have to show that you have this money for your visa application if you have been in the UK for at least a year on a valid visa.
UK Student Visa Required Documents
You must submit documents proving you meet the student visa eligibility requirements and can travel to the UK. However, the documents you’ll have to provide will vary depending on your circumstances.
Nevertheless, here’s a list of potential documents you’ll submit:
- A Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) number to prove your admission.
- An international passport or any other valid travel document.
- Documents that prove you have enough funds to sponsor your education in the UK. You can present bank statements and account reports.
- Your Secure English Language Test (SELT) result to prove you meet the English language requirement.
- Doctors report, including a tuberculosis test result, to prove you’re in good health to enter the UK.
- An ATAS certificate of your course of study requires it.
- Written consent from your parents or legal guardian if you’re under 18 years. The letter should highlight your visa application, your living and care arrangements in the UK, and your travel to the UK.
- Your birth certificate or any other document that shows your parents’ name if you’re under 18 years.
The above list isn’t exhaustive. The UK Home Office may still request other documents that apply to your circumstances.
UK Student Visa Fee
Like every other UK visa, applying for a student visa attracts application fees. As mentioned earlier, you can apply for the visa outside or inside the UK.
If you’re applying from outside the UK, the processing fee is £363. If you’re applying from inside the UK, the fee is £490. Applying from inside is more expensive because you’re not just applying but switching visa status.
The student visa allows dependents, and anyone that comes along with you must also pay the £363 visa fee.
Aside from the processing fee, you’ll also pay a health surcharge. The health surcharge is a compulsory fee, and the amount depends on the duration of your student visa.
The annual cost for adults is £624, while that for children is £470. If your visa is valid for five years, you will have to pay £3,120, or £624 per year.
The UK immigration service will contact you via email after you submit your online application for payment of the health surcharge.
The health surcharge is due within seven days if you’re outside the UK and ten days if you’re inside the country. If you don’t, your application might be thrown out.
UK Student Visa Application Process
The UK student visa application is online, and you can apply as soon as all your documents are complete. You’ll have to prove your identity during your application, which requires that you submit your biometrics.
If you’re applying from outside the UK, you must apply no more than six months before the start of your studies. You’ll get a verdict on your student visa application within three weeks.
If you’re applying from inside the UK, you must apply no more than three months before the start of your studies. You’ll get a verdict within eight weeks. Importantly, your studies must start within 28 days before your current visa expires.
If your application is successful, you can proceed to submit your biometrics. Afterward, you’ll get a biometric residence permit upon admission into the UK.
You can travel to the UK a week before your course starts if your course lasts for a maximum of six months. If your course lasts more than six months, you can travel to the UK a month earlier.
However, ensure you check your visa start date and don’t travel to the UK before it.
UK Student Visa Duration
The UK student visa has no fixed duration. How long you can stay depends on the time of your course. As a result, the UK Home Office will decide the duration upon awarding you the visa.
Nevertheless, most degrees take a maximum of five years. Hence, if you’re going to the UK to study a course at a university, your visa will typically be valid for five years at maximum.
On the other hand, if your course is below degree level, it usually won’t last for more than two years. Hence, your visa will typically be valid for two years at maximum.
The good news is, irrespective of your course level, you can extend your UK student visa if it expires and you still need to be in the country.
UK Student Visa Extension Of Stay
You can extend your visa if you want to continue studying in the UK. For example, your first visa may be for a degree course; afterward, you want to continue with a master’s degree.
You can also apply if you want to continue with a degree course – a second degree, for example – but it must be related to your first course.
As usual, you need to have been offered admission to get a UK student visa extension. However, you don’t have to prove you have the funds a second time.
You can apply for a UK student visa extension at most three months before your new course begins. Notably, the course must start within 28 days before your initial visa expires.
Hence, you can apply for a visa extension even when your initial visa has a long time before it expires. If you apply late and the initial visa expires before you get a verdict on the extension, you can still remain in the UK.
To extend your visa, you must pay a £490 processing fee. You’ll also pay the healthcare surcharge and resubmit your biometrics.
Like the initial visa, the UK student visa extension takes around eight weeks to process. The UK Home Office will issue you a new biometric residence permit if you get the extension.
The duration of your extension will depend on your course. Just like the initial visa, the UK Home Office will decide.
Ultimately, you have to leave the UK when you can no longer extend your visa unless you switch to a different visa – switching to a work visa if you get a job offer, for example.
Unfortunately, the UK student visa doesn’t count towards residency. No matter how long you stay on a student visa, you can’t apply for Indefinite Leave To Remain.
What You Can Do When Your Stay Expires
As part of the rebranding, a new pathway to permanent residency in the UK was established for bachelor’s or master’s students.
This immigration permit, often referred to as the Graduate Visa, grants foreign nationals the right to work, look for work, and reside in the United Kingdom for up to two years after graduation. With the Graduate Visa, Ph.D. students can stay in the UK for up to three years.
Beginning in the summer of 2021, all former international students will be eligible to apply for this immigration scheme.
You need a UK Student visa to study in the UK, especially as an undergraduate or postgraduate. The key requirement to getting the visa is finance. If you have the funds, you should have no problem getting an admission offer, which plays a critical role in the UK Home Office’s verdict.