Everything you need to know about visas for studying in the UK

filling in visa application form

Find out whether you need a visa and – if so – which one

Thinking about studying in the UK? Here’s what you need to know about your visa… 

Firstly, do you need a visa?

If you’re coming to the UK and are from any country outside the EEA or Switzerland, you’ll need a student visa to study in the UK. Your UK student visa requirements will depend on where you’re coming from and what type of course you’re studying.  

If the answer is yes…

To be eligible for a visa, you’ll first have to be offered a place to study. Once you’ve been offered a place on a course, your university or course provider will be able to give you advice on applying for your student visa from UK Visas and Immigration.

You’ll need to add your passport number to your UCAS application and prove your English language skills (your course provider will be able to help you with the specifics of what they require). You’ll also have to prove that you have the funds to support yourself and pay for your course, though this amount will vary depending on your circumstances.

If you’re under 18, you’ll also need to prove your travel and accommodation arrangements and have permission from a parent or guardian. 

What about Brexit?

Currently, nationals from within the EEA or Switzerland do not need a visa to study in the UK. With the UK’s upcoming exit from the EU, it’s possible this situation may change. To keep updated on visa requirements, check your eligibility on the gov.uk website.

Short course visas

You’ll need a short course visa if you’re planning to study a course that lasts up to six months (including English language courses), planning a short period of research (up to six months) or are over 16 and taking an English language course (11 months).

As part of this visa, you won’t be able to get public funds, study at any state-funded schools, work, bring family members or extend your visa.

You can find out more about the requirements here.

Long Course (Tier 4) visas

If you’re over 16 and have been offered a place on a course that lasts more than 11 months, you’ll need a Tier 4 general student visa. You can apply for this visa from both in and outside the UK.

Providing you’ve met the eligibility requirements, this visa will let you study, apply for a job in most workplaces and may allow you to bring along family members – you can find out more about the fees and criteria for dependents here.

The length of the visa will depend on your course of study, and you’ll also have the opportunity to extend your visa.

Bear in mind that this visa won’t allow you to get public funds (such as tuition fee loans), study at an academy, local authority-funded school, or work in certain jobs. These include professional sports or coaching.  You can find out more about the Tier 4 visa here.

What’s the cost?

It costs £348 to apply for a Tier 4 (General) visa from outside the UK. If you’re travelling with any dependents, you’ll need to pay an additional £348 per person. You’ll also have to pay the healthcare surcharge as part of your application, too. You can find out how much you’ll have to pay before you apply by using this calculator.

Short course visas cost £97 for a six-month visa and £186 for an 11-month visa.

When can I apply?

You can apply for your visa up to three months before you’re due to start your studies in the UK. You can check the visa processing times for your country here.

When can I arrive in the UK?

If your course lasts six months or less, you can arrive in the UK up to one week before the start date. If your course lasts more than six months then you’ll be able to arrive up to one month before your course starts.

How long can I stay?

How long you’re able to stay in the UK depends on a few different factors. These include the length of your course, the type of course, and what study you’ve already completed. You find all the necessary detail on this on the gov.uk website.

Can I work in the UK after my studies?

If you’ve enjoyed your time studying in the UK and fancy sticking around, you might be able to apply for other visas if you’d like to stay and work. You can find out more about work opportunities – and the visa requirements – from the UK Council For International Student Affairs (UKCISA).

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