Guide to UK Student Visas: Requirements And how to apply

Do you want to study in the UK? Find out what documents you'll need for a UK student visa with this quick guide. We've got requirements, tips, and tricks to make your life easier. Make sure to read through all of these before applying! A UK Student Visa is required if you plan to study at a university or college in the UK. To qualify for one, you must be enrolled at an approved institution, and either have enough money to support yourself while studying or already have sufficient funds available in the UK.

Guide to UK Student Visas: Requirements And how to apply

Do you want to study in the UK? The United Kingdom has some of the best universities in the world, but if you’re not eligible to obtain a student visa, you won’t be able to take advantage of them. Fortunately, many students are eligible for UK student visas, but you must follow all the requirements carefully to accept your application. To make things easier, here’s an ultimate guide to UK student visas that covers everything from conditions and tips to tricks on getting into your dream school in the UK.

Before the commencement of their program, approved international students must apply for a UK Student Visa.

The old Tier 4 (General) Student Visa has undergone a "rebranding" in the wake of Brexit, mainly because individuals from the EU and EEA must now apply for a visa to study in the UK.

What is Student Visa

International students who want to study in the UK will need a UK student visa. You are permitted to stay in the UK for a fair amount of time—up to five years. You must have received an admission offer from a reputable school or course provider to apply for a UK student visa. Additionally, you must demonstrate your ability to sustain yourself financially while a student (for instance, through employment or sponsorship). Further, you must succeed on an English language test.
A UK student visa is valid for five years; however, if that period passes before you finish your studies, you might be eligible to extend it.

Apply to University in the UK

As soon as you've chosen a university, you should find out how many spots there are for overseas students. Specific colleges may require an admission exam or evaluation to be considered for a post. We advise applying as soon as possible because university classes might fill up rapidly.
Once your offer is confirmed, you will get information on the documentation needed to apply for a UK student visa and study permit with your parents or guardians.

Applying to Study Abroad in the UK

After years of research and deliberation, you've finally decided to study abroad in the UK. The first step on your journey is applying for a student visa with the United Kingdom government. You will need an endorsed letter from your school confirming that you have been accepted at an institution recognized by the UK government. As soon as you receive it, please send it to the nearest British embassy or consulate along with a copy of your passport and other documents like application forms. Fill out the form using black ink and carefully follow all instructions. Make sure you include all information about yourself on the paper without omitting any details, including proof of financial resources, such as bank statements and savings account passbooks. One last essential requirement for UK student visas has enough money to cover living expenses during your stay.

Studying the English Language in the UK

UK student visas are not challenging to acquire as long as all documents are accurate. Most students will need a student visa before they leave their home country. There are two ways of getting this visa:
(1) applying for the UK Tier 4 Visa at the British Embassy in your home country or
(2) Apply for the UK Tier 4 visa in your home country but at a British Consulate or High Commission. If you apply while in your home country, you will have to travel back to your home country to complete the process after the initial application has been approved.

Obtaining a Tier 4 (General) Student Visa

UK student visas are granted under Tier 4 of the UK's points-based immigration system. To be eligible for a Tier 4 visa, applicants must have at least 30 points and meet other eligibility requirements. Points are awarded according to the applicant's age, qualifications, experience, and salary expectations.

As of October 4, 2020, the previous Tier 4 (General) Student visa was replaced with the so-called “Student Route.” The Student Route is the UK’s new Student Visa, which will be available to EEA nationals as well, who, before Brexit, did not need a visa to study in the UK.

According to the British Government, the number of students who can receive a visa is unlimited under the new Student Visa program.

Some of the main changes to the UK Student Visa that came into effect after 5 October 2020 are:

  • It is divided into the Student Route (for adult students aged 18+) and Child Student Route (for students aged 4-17, which has replaced the Tier 4 Child Student Visa).
  • EU/EEA nationals are also to apply for a visa if they enter the country after January 1, 2021.
  • You can now apply for a Student Visa up to six months before courses start, instead of three.
  • Whether you are eligible for a visa depends on a Point-Based System. You need to collect 70 points.
  • Those graduating from a British educational institution by and after Summer 2021 can apply for the post-graduate visa, allowing them to work/look for work in the UK for up to 2 years.

Other requirements, such as English proficiency and Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS), remain the same under the Tier 4 Student Visa.

Do EU/EEA Students Need a UK Student Visa?

If you enter the UK after January 1, 2021, you must apply for a Student Visa. If you are already in the UK before January 1, 2021, you must apply for the EU Settlement Scheme.

Who Can Apply for a UK Student Visa?

EU/EEA and non-EU/EEA nationals can apply for the new UK Student Visa if they reach 70 points on the Point Based System. The system measures whether you meet the requirements to study in the UK, such as:

  • Have you been accepted into an approved institution? The institution issues the Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) as proof.
  • Do you have the financial resources to fund your stay? In addition to the money required to pay for the course, you also need £1,265 per month if studying in London or £1,015 per month if studying outside London. If you have dependents, you need approximately £800 per month for each of them.
  • Are you proficient in English? When applying for the visa, you need to pass an English Proficiency Test from an approved provider.
    • B2 for Degree-level courses or above.
    • B1 for below Degree-level courses.
  • Does your course meet the set-out course requirements? See below.

UK Student Visa Course Requirements

You can get a Student Visa for the UK if you have been accepted into one of the following courses:

  • A full-time, below-degree-level course (more than 15 hours per week of study). Referred to as the RQF level 3, 4, or 5, this includes A levels (basically the last two years of high school), apprenticeships, or the first two years of a Bachelor's degree.
  • A full-time course leads to a degree level or above degree-level qualification. Includes RQF levels 6, 7, and 8 (Bachelor, Postgraduate, Masters, or Doctorate).
  • A part-time course at a degree level above RQF 7 (Postgraduate, Masters, or Doctorate).
  • An approved program for postgraduate doctors or dentists.
  • An English language course (level B2 or above) in the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages.

 Accommodation in the UK Section

When you move from another country to the UK for university or college, there are a few things you need to be aware of. Your first stop will usually be finding a place to live. There are two main types of accommodation in the UK- private accommodation and student halls/dorms. Personal total can include rented rooms in shared houses or flats, but you may also find yourself staying with friends or family if your budget is limited.

How to Apply for a UK Student Visa?

If you are outside of the UK, you may apply for a UK student visa six months before your courses start. Before submitting your biometrics at a visa application center in your country, you must begin the application process online at the UK government's website.

Your education provider will send you a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies reference number after they have awarded you a spot on the course. This number must be entered during online registration. You will receive instructions on how to continue after submitting your online application, depending on your country of residency.

The approval of a parent or legal guardian is required for applicants for child student visas.

Is it Possible For Me To Switch to a UK Student Visa?

If you are already in the UK, you can switch to a Student Visa as long as your current visa is not one of the following:

  • Visit visa
  • Short-term student visa
  • Parent of a Child Student visa
  • Seasonal worker visa
  • Domestic worker in a private household visa
  • Leave outside the immigration rules

You can apply to switch to the UK Student Route up to three months before your classes begin. You must be accepted into an approved institution, and your current visa must remain valid.

 Processing Time

Receiving a decision on your application for a student visa if you are applying from outside the UK will take about three weeks. A decision about your application will be made in around eight weeks if you use it from within the UK (switch to Student Visa).

UK Student Visa Fees and Costs

The fees for a UK Student Visa are:

  • £348 if applying from outside the UK.
  • £475 if you apply to extend or switch to a Student Visa from inside the UK.

You must pay a separate fee for yourself and each family member that joins you.

In addition to the visa fee, you also have to prove that you have enough money to finance your stay:

  • At least £1,265 per month if studying in London (for up to nine months).
  • At least £1,015 per month if studying outside London (for up to nine months).

When applying for a UK Student Visa, you need the following documents:

  • Your valid passport.
  • The Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) from your school.
  • Proof you have enough financial resources to support yourself and any family members.
  • An Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) certificate if applicable.
  • Criminal record certificate.
  • Proof of English Language proficiency.
  • Tuberculosis test results.
  • For students under 18:
    • Proof of parental consent
    • Proof of your relationship with your parent or legal guardian
  • Any additional documents required during the application process.

How Long Is the UK Student Visa Valid?

The length of the UK student visa is determined by the size of the study you have begun. The visa may be granted for up to five years if you are an adult enrolling in a degree-level program. If you enroll in a course below the degree level, permission will be granted for two years.

Can a UK student visa be extended?

If accepted into a different degree in the UK, your student visa in the UK may be extended. The system must be more advanced than the one you've finished. If you hold a Tier 4 (General) Student Visa, you can also extend your student visa. Application deadlines are three months before the start of your new semester.

Can I Stay in the UK After My Studies?

Yes, starting from Summer 2021, international students in the UK who have completed a degree at an undergraduate level will be able to apply for the Graduate Visa. The Graduate Visa allows you to stay in the UK for up to two years after graduating as you work or look for work. Ph.D. graduates can last for up to three years.

If you find a suitable job during that time, you can switch to a different immigration category, such as a UK Work Visa.

Can I Work With a UK Student Visa?

Yes, international students in the UK can work under certain conditions. For example, you can work as a student union sabbatical officer, but you will not be able to claim public benefits and pensions. What type of work you can do in the UK while on a Student Visa will depend on what you are studying and if you will be working during the term or during breaks.

Some jobs are also off-limits, such as working as a professional sportsperson or sports coach or being self-employed.

Can I Have Dependents With a UK Student Visa?

You can bring your dependent family members to the UK as you pursue your studies. This includes:

  • Your spouse, civil partner, or unmarried partner.
  • Your dependent children under the age of 18.

You and your family must prove each of you has enough money to sustain your stay in the UK. In addition to the financial requirements of yourself (the student), each family member must also have the following funds:

  • £845 per month (for up to 9 months) for courses in London
  • £680 per month (for up to 9 months) for courses outside London

Final Words

One of the wisest moves you can make while residing in the UK is to obtain a UK student visa. Studying abroad is a great chance to expand your network, make new friends, and taste the local culture. We've put up this comprehensive guide for you with all you need to know about applying for a UK student visa because there are so many things to think about.