International students accepted into a UK educational institution must apply for a UK student visa before starting their courses.
Following Brexit, the previous Tier 4 (General) student visa has undergone a “rebranding”, mainly linked to the fact that students from the EU and EEA will now also have to apply for a visa if they wish to study in the UK.
UK Student Visa Application
- If you want to study in the UK, you will need to apply for a student visa. In the post-Brexit environment, both EEA and non-EEA citizens will need to receive an unconditional offer from an authorized sponsor to be eligible for a visa.
- Those who graduate from an approved course in the UK will be able to stay in the country on the new Graduate Visa route for up to two years to live, work and look for work. Doctoral students will be able to do this for a maximum of three years.
- On this page, we set out everything you need to know about the new student journey in the UK.
Meet the 70-point requirement as a student
- While the points-based immigration system may seem daunting, it is actually relatively simple to reach the 70-point threshold. Ultimately, if you meet the main eligibility criteria, you will reach the 70 point threshold.
Changes to the UK Tier 4 student visa
- The previous Tier 4 (General) student visa has been replaced with the so-called “Student Route”. The Student Route is the new UK student visa, which will also be available to EEA citizens who, before Brexit, did not require a visa to study in the UK.
- According to the British government, with the new Student Visa program, the number of students who can receive a visa is unlimited.
- Some of the key changes to the UK student visa that came into effect after 5 October 2020 are:
- It is divided into the Student Path (for adult students aged 18 and over) and the Child Student Path (for students aged 4 to 17, which replaced the Tier 4 Child Student Visa).
- EU/EEA citizens will also need to apply for a visa if they enter the country after 1 January 2023.
- You can now apply for a student visa up to six months before your courses start, rather than three.
- Eligibility to obtain a visa depends on a points-based system. You have to collect 70 points.
- Those who graduate from a UK educational institution before and after summer 2023 will be able to apply for a postgraduate visa, which will allow them to work/look for work in the UK for up to 2 years.
- Other requirements, such as English language proficiency and Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS), remain the same as for the Tier 4 student visa.
Who can apply for a UK student visa?
EU/EEA and non-EU/EEA citizens can apply for the new UK student visa if they reach 70 points on the points-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 to Studies (CAS) as proof.
Do you have the financial resources to finance your stay?
In addition to the money you need to pay for the course, you will also need £1,265 per month if you study in London or £1,015 per month if you study outside London. If you have dependents, you need around £800 a month for each of them.
Do you have excellent knowledge of English? When you apply for the visa, you must pass an English language proficiency test at an approved provider.
- B2 for degree-level courses or higher.
- B1 for courses below a degree.
- Does your course meet the established course requirements? Look down.
UK Student Visa Course Requirements
You can get a UK student visa if you have been accepted onto one of the following courses:
- A full-time, sub-degree level course (more than 15 hours of study per week). Called RQF level 3, 4 or 5, this includes A levels (essentially the last two years of high school), apprenticeships or the first two years of a degree.
- A full-time course leading to a qualification at undergraduate level or above. Includes RQF levels 6, 7 and 8 (bachelor’s, postgraduate, master’s or doctorate).
- A part-time course above RQF 7 (postgraduate, master’s 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.
UK Student Visa Eligibility
If you are looking to apply for a UK student visa, there are some requirements you need to meet.
The student visa requirements are as follows:
- You must have received an unconditional offer of study from an approved sponsoring institution
- You must have received confirmation of acceptance for studies from your sponsoring institution
- You must score at least 70 points on the points-based system
- You must have the necessary academic qualifications to undertake the course and truly intend to study in the UK
- You can financially support yourself in the UK (and any family members/dependants who join you)
What are the financial requirements?
To be eligible to study in the UK, you will need to provide evidence of your financial means. You must demonstrate that you have enough money to support yourself in the UK.
The financial requirements for are as follows:
- £1,334 per month for up to 9 months for London-based courses
- £1,023 per month for up to 9 months for courses based outside London
- £2,668 per month for Doctoral Extension Program if based in London
- £2,046 per month for courses outside London if based outside London
You will need to be able to demonstrate that you have this money for 28 consecutive days and the end date of this period must be within 31 days of the date you apply for the visa.
How to apply for a UK student visa?
You can apply for a UK student visa as early as six months before your courses start if you are outside the UK. You must start your application online on the UK Government website before appearing at a visa application center in your country to submit your biometric data.
Once you have been offered a place on the course, your education provider will send you a reference number called a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies. You must enter this number during online registration. After submitting your application online, you will receive instructions on how to proceed, depending on your country of residence.
Applicants for a child student visa will need the consent of a parent or guardian.
Can I 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:
- Travel visa
- Short-term student visa
- Student visa for parent of a child
- Seasonal worker visa
- Domestic worker with private residence visa
- Leave out of immigration rules
- You can apply to switch to the UK Student Route up to three months before your scheduled start of lessons. You must be accepted into one of the approved institutions and your current visa must still be valid.
UK Student Visa Processing Time
If you are applying from outside the UK, it will take approximately 3 weeks to receive a decision on your student visa application. If you are applying from within the UK (switch to student visa), it will take approximately 8 weeks to reach a decision on your application.
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 within the UK.
- You must pay a separate fee for yourself and each family member joining you.
In addition to the visa fees, you also need to prove that you have enough money to finance your stay:
- At least £1,265 per month if you study in London (for a maximum of nine months).
- At least £1,015 per month if you study outside London (for a maximum of nine months).
Documents required for a UK student visa application
When applying for a UK student visa, the following documents are needed:
- Your valid passport.
- Your school’s Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS).
- Proof that you have sufficient financial resources to support yourself and your family members.
- An Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) certificate, if applicable.
- Criminal record certificate.
- Proof of knowledge of the English language.
- Tuberculosis test results.
- For students under 18:
- Proof of parental consent
- Proof of your relationship with a parent or legal guardian
Any additional documents required during the application process, such as student visa cover letter, etc.
How long does the UK student visa last?
The UK student visa is granted for a period of time corresponding to the course you have started. If you are an adult, enrolled in a degree course, the visa can be granted for a maximum of five years. If you are taking a course below degree level, the visa will be granted for two years.
What are the course requirements?
If you want to study in the UK you must comply with the Student Visa rules. Eligible courses include:
- Full-time course leading to a sub-degree level qualification (RQF level 3, 4 or 5). There must be at least 15 hours of organized daytime study per week
- The full-time course leading to a qualification at undergraduate level or above (RQF level 6, 7 or 8)
- Full-time course at degree level or above (RQF level 6, 7 or 8) which is equivalent to a higher education course in the UK and will be delivered as part of an overseas course
- Part-time course leading to a qualification above degree level (RQF level 7 or above)
- A recognized foundation program for postgraduate doctors or dentists
- A B2 level English language course established by the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages
How can I appeal my student visa refusal?
To appeal your student visa refusal, we recommend following the steps below:
- Identify the reasons why your visa was rejected (this will be stated in the rejection letter)
- Consider whether you want to request an administrative review or reapply based on the information in your denial letter
- If you wish to apply for a review, you should check the deadline for submitting (typically 14 days for an in-country application or 28 days if submitting outside the UK)
- Alternatively, you can make the changes described in the rejection letter and reapply for the visa
- If you request an administrative review, you will be asked to state the reasons for the refusal and to indicate why you believe an error was made in the decision-making process
- Send the form to the Home Office as requested (for example by post, email or in person)
- Wait for a decision on administrative review to be issued
- We strongly recommend that you speak to an experienced immigration attorney if your student visa has been denied. This will help reduce the possibility of further waste and could save you time and further costs.
Can I bring my dependents with me to the UK?
From January 2024, international students will not be able to bring dependents to the UK unless they are:
- A government-sponsored student starting a course lasting 6 months or more
- Enrolled in a postgraduate course designated as a research program lasting 9 months or more
- Eligible postgraduate programs include PhDs and other doctoral qualifications or master’s programs with a research component, including a requirement to produce original work.
- International students who do not fall into any of these categories will not be able to bring their dependents with them to the UK.
- This restriction will apply to all international students starting courses from 1 January 2024.