Are you a non-UK resident who would like to study in the United Kingdom but you don’t know where to begin when it comes to a student visa? First of all you need to work out if you actually need one and then how to apply. This article helps you to understand the process and will guide you to the correct resources to apply for your visa.
Do you need a student visa?
This depends on your nationality and immigration status. While Swiss nationals and those from the EU/European Economic Area (EEA) states are treated as home students in the UK, all other international students are likely to need a visa to study here. You can check if you need a UK visa by answering a few questions on the Government’s website which will only take a few seconds to fill in.
Types of student visas
There are three different types of student visa; short-term study visa, tier 4 child student visa and tier 4 general student visa. The type you will need will depend on a few factors including age and length of study.
Short Term Study Visa
A short-term study visa is suitable for those doing a short course of study in the UK who are outside of the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland. It is also important that you meet the eligibility requirements which you can find here.
A short-term student visa allows you to do take on a short course such as an English language course, or do a short period of research as a part of a degree course that you might be currently doing abroad. The visa is valid for 6 months (£85) for any short courses/research or you can stay for 11 months (£162) if you are over 18.
How to apply?
You can apply for a visa up to 3 months before your date of travel to the UK. You should receive your decision on your visa within 3 weeks of submitting your request. You can check the guide processing times to find out how long it might take to get a visa, which is dependent on the country you are applying from.
Tier 4 Child Student Visa
A child student visa is for those between the ages of 4-17 and want to study in the UK. In terms of university, most people do not apply until they are over 18 so we won’t go into too much detail about this visa today. However, you can find out more on the Gov website.
Tier 4 General Student Visa
If you are 18 and over, a general student visa might be what you need for the course you wish to study. If you have been offered a place on a course in the UK, can speak, read, write and understand the English language, have enough money to support yourself and pay for your course, are from a country that’s not in the EEA or Switzerland, and meet other requirements (stated here), then you are eligible for a general student visa.
You can arrive in the UK a week before your course starts if your course lasts 6 months or less. If you course lasts longer than 6 months, you can arrive in the UK a month before. The length you stay in the UK depends on the type of course you’re studying and what you have already completed.
How to apply?
Applying for a general student visa is similar to the short-term visa in that you can apply up to 3 months before the start of your course and you should get the decision within 3 weeks. You can check the guide processing times to find out how long it might take to get a visa, depending on the country you are applying from. A general student visa will cost £322 to apply if you are from outside the UK. You’ll also have to pay the healthcare surcharge as part of your application. Check how much you’ll have to pay before you apply.
Things you need:
- Details of your passport
- A recent photograph
- A ‘Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies’ (CAS) form from your course provider (worth 30 points)
- Proof of adequate English language skills through one of the UKBA-approved English language tests (or perhaps through an alternate test or Skype interview with your course provider)
- Proof you have financial support throughout your stay in the UK e.g. bank statements.
- You may be required to produce documents showing your academic qualifications
- You may need to attend an interview or biometric test, which includes a digital scan of your fingerprints.
- You may also be required to have certain medical vaccinations.