UK Student Visas Explained

By StudyLink

The UK is one of the best places to study. Securing a place at a university and the UK visa to go with it can be a confusing process. In this article, we look at the process of applying for a visa to study as an international student. There are 2 types of UK student visas. These are:

  • Short-term study visa.
  • Tier 4 (General) student visa.

If you are looking at studying for longer than 6 months then it is likely you will require a Tier 4 (General) UK Student Visa.

Short-term Study Visa

If you are studying a short course in the UK you can apply for a short-term study visa. This visa will allow you to study in the UK for 6 months, or 11 months if you are studying an English language course.

In order to qualify for a short-term study visa you must prove:

  • you have been accepted on a course in the UK at a recognised place of study.
  • you have enough money to cover the costs of your study and to cover your living costs for the duration of your studies.
  • you can pay for your return journey.

The documentation you will require to meet the above requirements are as follows:

  • a current passport.
  • bank statements or payslips.
  • details of your travel plans and where you intend to stay.
  • a letter of acceptance from the place you plan to study, on header paper, stating the name of the course, the duration and the cost.
  • you may also be required to show medical test results depending on the country you’re from.

If you are under 18 you will also require prior arrangements for you travel and stay in the UK and have permission from a parent or guardian. You will also have to provide the contact details of a parent or guardian.

The short term study visa costs £93 for a 6 month visa and £179 for the 11 month option. On a short term study visa you cannot work, bring family members or extend the visa.

Tier 4 (General) UK Student Visa

The majority of international students from outside the EU will need a Tier 4 (General) student visa to study in the UK. You can apply for this if you are 16 or over and:

  • you have been offered a place on a course.
  • you can understand English, including reading, writing and speaking.
  • you can prove you have enough money to pay your course fees and support yourself for the duration of your studies.

In order to meet the above requirements you must provide supporting documentation. This documentation will include:

  • a current passport.
  • proof of your funds such as bank statements.

Depending on your circumstances and your country of origin you may need to provide additional supporting documents. These may include medical test results or other proofs of your funding. To prove your understanding of the English language you will need to pass an English language test.

If you are under 18 you will need to provide contact details of a parent or guardian.

You can apply for a visa 3 months before your course starts and you should get a decision within 3 weeks. It costs £335 to apply for the visa and you must pay an additional £335 per person for any dependants.

You can arrive in the UK up to 1 month before your course starts if the course lasts more than 6 months. On a Tier 4 (General) Visa you can work most jobs and also apply to extend your stay. You may also be able to bring family members.

You will have to apply from outside the UK and you can do this online. If you are extending your visa or switching visa then you may be able to apply from within the UK.

Arriving in the UK with a Student Visa

When you arrive in the UK, you’ll be met by somebody from the UK Border Agency (UKBA). They will scan your passport and cross-check your details. They’ll need to see your documents, so make sure they are not packed deep inside your suitcase. You’ll also need to remove your passport from its holder so you can show it to the officer. Providing there are no problems, the UKBA officer will let you enter the country to begin your study abroad adventure.

Find out more about arriving in the UK and out UK border force top tips.

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