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STUDENT VISA

The Student Visa category is for individuals who are aged 16 or over and who wish to study on a further or higher education course in the UK.

If you are between 4 and 17 years old and wish to study at an independent school in the UK, you should apply for a Child Student Visa instead.

Requirements for a UK Student Visa

In order to qualify for a UK Student Visa you will need to satisfy UK Visas and Immigration that:

  • You are aged 16 or over;
  • You have been offered an unconditional place on an approved course with a licensed student sponsor;
  • You can read, write, speak and understand English to at least CEFR Level B2 (if studying at degree level or above) or CEFR Level B1 (if studying at below degree level);
  • You have enough money to support yourself and pay for your course without relying on public funds;
  • You have the consent of your parent(s) or legal guardian if you are 16 or 17 years old;

The exact requirements you will need to satisfy will vary depending on your circumstances.  You may want to speak to an immigration lawyer for expert advice.

Course Requirements for a UK Student Visa

Student Visa applicants can apply for a visa to study the following courses:

  • A full-time course that leads to a qualification below degree level (RQF level 3, 4 or 5) with at least 15 hours per week of organised daytime study;
  • A full-time course that leads to a qualification that is at degree level or above (RQF level 6, 7 or 8);
  • A full-time course that is at degree level or above (RQF level 6,7 or 8), that is equivalent to a UK higher education course and is being delivered as part of a longer course overseas;
  • A part-time course leading to a qualification that is above degree level (RQF level 7 or above);
  • A recognised foundation programme for postgraduate doctors or dentists (if you have finished a recognised UK degree in medicine or dentistry, received that degree from a registered student sponsor and spent your final year and at least one other year of studies leading to that degree in the UK);
  • An English language course at level B2 or above in the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages.

Who Else Can Apply for a Student Visa?

You can also apply for a Student Visa if you are:

  • Applying to extend your stay on the Doctorate Extension Scheme (you must currently have permission to be in the UK on a Student visa (or a Tier 4 (General) Student visa) and your course must lead to a PhD);
  • Taking up a full-time elected position as a Student Union Sabbatical Officer.

Place of Study Requirements for a UK Student Visa

Unless you are on a course-related work placement, a study abroad programme overseas, or a pre-sessional course, all study that forms part of the course of study must take place on the premises of your student sponsor or a partner institution. 

Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS)

Once you have been offered an unconditional place on a course of study, your education provider will send you a CAS reference number. You must apply for your Student Visa within 6 months of receiving your CAS.

The Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies must not have been used in a previous application which was either granted or refused and the education institution must not have withdrawn its offer.

The CAS must also contain certain information including details of the course to be studied, the level of study, the place of study, the cost of accommodation and fees (and any payments already made) and how the English language requirement has been met.

Financial Requirement for a UK Student Visa

You will need to satisfy UK Visas and Immigration that you have enough cash funds to pay your course fees and support yourself financially in the UK.

Course Fees

Unless you fall within one of the special categories listed below, you will need to have sufficient cash funds available to pay any outstanding course fees for 1 academic year of your course (up to 9 months).  

If the length of your course includes part of a month, the time period will be rounded up to the next full month.

If you have paid all or part of your course fees to your student sponsor then this can be offset against the funds required, provided this is either confirmed on your Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies, or you provide a receipt issued by your student sponsor confirming the amount of fees paid.

If you have paid a deposit to your student sponsor for accommodation, this deposit can also be offset against the funds required, up to a maximum of £1,265.

Living Costs

Unless you fall within one of the special categories listed below, you will need to have sufficient cash funds to meet your living costs in the UK.

If you will be studying in inner London, you will need £1,265 (or £1,334 from 1/12/2020) for each month of your course, up to a maximum of nine months. If you will be studying elsewhere in the UK, you will need £1,015 (or £1,023 from 1/12/2020) for each month of your course, up to a maximum of nine months.  

If you will be on the Doctorate Extension Scheme, you will need to prove that you have a total of £2,530 for a course in London, or a total of £2,030 for a course outside London.

In either case, you will need to have held the money for at least 28 consecutive days ending not more than 31 days before the date of your Student Visa application. 

Additional funds may be required if you have dependents applying at the same time.

Special categories

The following categories of applicants will automatically be treated as having satisfied the Student Visa financial requirement:

  • Applicants who have been in the UK with valid leave for at least 12 months prior to the date of their Student Visa application;
  • Applicants who are applying as a Student Union Sabbatical Officer;
  • Applicants who are applying as a postgraduate doctor or dentist on a recognised foundation programme;
  • Applicants who are British Nationals (Overseas) or who are from one of a list of specified countries or territories that are subject to the ‘differential evidence requirement’ (such applicants should still hold the required level of funds as UKVI reserve the right to request evidence of funds from these applicants).

English Language Requirement for a UK Student Visa

You will need to be able to read, write, speak and understand English to at least CEFR Level B2 (if studying at degree level or above) or CEFR Level B1 (if studying at below degree level).

You will usually need to pass a Secure English Language Test (SELT) from an approved provider.  However, nationals of certain majority English speaking countries are not required to prove their English language ability, nor are persons who have completed a qualification equivalent to a UK degree taught in English in one of these countries.

If you are a national of Canada or applying to travel to the UK for a study abroad programme as part of a university degree course in the USA or have proved your level of English in a previous visa application then you will also not be required to prove your knowledge of English.

Genuine Student Rule

UK Visas and Immigration interview most Student visa applicants before granting them a visa to come to the UK. 

You can expect to be asked questions about your immigration history, your education history, your course, where you want to study, reasons for studying in the UK, your post study plans and your personal and financial circumstances. 

The Entry Clearance Officer must be satisfied that you are a genuine student otherwise your application for a Student Visa may be refused.

Switching into the Student route

If you currently have valid leave to remain in the UK, you can apply to switch into the Student route provided you do not have, or were not last granted, permission to stay as a Visitor, Short-term Student, Parent of a Child Student, Seasonal Worker, Domestic Worker in a Private Household or outside the Immigration Rules (unless leave outside the rules was granted for the explicit purpose of finding a new student sponsor).  You must also not be on immigration bail.

Apply for a UK Student Visa

If you are applying for a Student Visa from outside the UK then you should submit your application not more than 6 months before the start date of your course.

If you are applying from inside the UK then the earliest you can apply for a Student Visa is 3 months before your course starts.  Your course must be scheduled to start no more than 28 days after the expiry date of your previous leave.

Student Visa Processing Times

If you apply for a UK Student Visa from outside the UK then you should receive a decision on your Student Visa application within 3 weeks.  

If you apply for permission to stay as a Student from within the UK then you should receive a decision within 8 weeks.

Travel to the UK on a Student Visa

If your Student Visa application is approved then you will be able to travel to the UK up to 1 week before your course starts if your course will last 6 months or less and up to 1 month before your course starts if your course will last more than 6 months.

Duration of Stay on a UK Student Visa

If you are 18 years old or over and your course is at degree level, you will usually be able to stay in the UK as a Student for up to 5 years.

If your course is below degree level, you will usually be able to stay in the UK on the Student route for up to 2 years.

There are exceptions to the above rule, including, for certain subjects such as architecture, medicine, dentistry, veterinary medicine and science, law and some music courses.

The period is calculated for the whole period of your leave and not the actual period you were studying or the length of the course.  Any period of permission on the Student route extended under section 3C of the Immigration Act 1971 will also count towards the period of permission granted.

The time limit can be spent studying a single course or several courses as a Student migrant, and the cap applies whether the Student visa application is made inside or outside the UK.

Working on a Student Visa

If you are a Student following a full-time course of study at degree level or above then you will be permitted to work 20 hours per week during term-time and full-time outside of term-time.

If you are a Student undertaking a full-time course of study below degree level then you will be permitted to work 10 hours per week during term-time and full-time outside of term-time.

All other Students, including part-time Students, are not permitted to work.

Dependent Family Members of Students

Courses starting before 1 January 2024

The following Students can bring a dependant partner and / or dependant child to the UK:

  • A full-time student on a postgraduate level course (RQF level 7 or above) that lasts 9 months or longer;
  • A new government-sponsored student on a course that lasts longer than 6 months;
  • A Doctorate Extension Scheme student.

Partners and children must each have either £845 a month (for up to 9 months) available to them for courses in London or £680 a month (for up to 9 months) available to them for courses outside London.

In either case, the money must be held for at least 28 consecutive days ending not more than 31 days before the date of the dependent visa application. 

Partners and children who have been in the UK with a valid visa for at least 12 months or who are from a country listed under the ‘differential evidence requirement’ where the main applicant is applying at the same time, do not need to satisfy a maintenance funds requirement.

Courses starting on or after 1 January 2024

International students whose course starts on or after 1 January 2024 are no longer permitted to bring dependents to the UK.

An exception is made for international students whose course is a PhD, other doctoral qualification, or a research-based higher degree (as defined in the Immigration Rules) who may continue to bring dependents to the UK even after 1 January 2024.

Student dependents already in the UK may continue to extend their stay.

Extension of Stay as a Student

If you are in the UK with leave as a Student or Tier 4 (General) Student, you may be able to extend your stay on the Student route.  Your dependants may be eligible to extend at the same time.

You will need to have an unconditional offer of a place on a course with a licensed student sponsor and, subject to a few exceptions, be able to show that the studies you are looking to undertake are at a higher academic level than your current course.

If you have been in the UK with a valid visa for less than 12 months, you will also need to demonstrate that you have enough money to support yourself in the UK.

Settlement in the UK as a Student

The Student route is not a route to settlement. However, Student Visa holders may be eligible to extend their stay into other immigration routes which can lead to settlement.

Switching from a Student Visa into Work Routes

Students on courses at degree level or above may apply before completing their course to switch to a sponsored work route, provided that their employment start date is not before their course completion.

Those studying towards PhDs are able to switch into a work route after 24 months’ study.

Potential work routes include the Skilled Worker, Senior or Specialist Worker, Graduate Trainee, UK Expansion Worker, Service Supplier, Secondment Worker, T2 Minister of Religion, Representative of an Overseas Business, Global Talent, High Potential Individual, Scale-Up, Innovator Founder and International Sportsperson routes.

How Our Immigration solicitors Can Help

Our immigration solicitors regularly assist international students to move to, or extend their stay in, the UK in order to pursue their education.

Our solicitors are experts in the immigration options for students and will guide you through the complex Home Office rules and policies.

We pride ourselves on being approachable and proactive in understanding and meeting our clients’ needs. We are a highly driven team, dedicated to providing clear and reliable immigration advice to students as part of a professional and friendly service.

 

Contact Our Managing Director

As specialist immigration solicitors, we pride in having one of the best team of specialist immigration solicitors  with wealth of knowledge and experience to deal with all types of UK visa and immigration matters. Our top rated immigration solicitors have successfully helped thousands of clients with all types of UK visa and immigration applications, immigration appeals, Administrative Review, Pre-Action Protocol (PAP) and Judicial Review.

Managing Director

Theo Mathias-Nwaulune

Managing Director

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