How to Apply for UK Student Visa – Info, Eligibility, and Steps
Awesome and congratulations on deciding to study in the UK! There are many things to do in the UK, so you should be excited! You have an acceptance letter to one of the UK’s universities and now you are wondering, “Can I just buy my ticket and go to study?” This may not be the case depending on your nationality.
Firstly, you need to make sure you have a valid passport. If you are a non-EEA citizen or not holding Swiss nationality, then you need to apply for something called a visa.
A visa does not guarantee your entry to the country. The visa provides you with the possibility and eligibility to enter and stay in the country for a specific period. Ultimately, the Immigration Officer at the border control determines your entry. The magical question becomes – how to go about getting a visa?
Visa Type & Eligibility Criteria:
The type of visa required for studying in the UK is a Tier 4 visa or short term visa for study between 6-11 months.
- If you are applying for a short-term visa, you need to meet these eligibility criteria:
- Be over 18 years of age
- Prove you’ve been offered a place in a course by an institution holding a Tier 4 licence
- Have enough financial support to support yourself including accommodation or prove relatives can house you and pay for you
- If less than 18, provide parental or guardian consent and have financial support to support your travels and accommodation in the UK
- If you are applying for a Tier 4 (Child) or Tier 4(General) Visa, you need to meet basic eligibility criteria:
- Be between 4 years and 17 years of age for the Tier 4 (Child)
- Be 16 years or older for Tier 4 (General)
- Speak, read, and write in the English language fluently
- Sponsorship from a Tier 4 institution
- Confirmation of Acceptance (CAS)
- Financial support to pay for the first year of the course or the entire course if less than 1 year plus
- £1,265 per month for living costs if based in London
- £1,015 per month for living costs based outside of London
As a rule, you cannot apply for the visa more than 3 months in advance of your arrival in the UK and not later than 6 months after receiving the CAS. The processing time is approximately three weeks, but can vary. Further information about processing times is here.
Let’s check what documents are needed to apply for a Tier 4 visa:
- Valid passport
- Tier 4 application form
- English language assessment unless you meet these requirements.
- Parental or legal guardian consent if under 18
- Proof of relationship to parent or guardian
- Certifications – same as you used for the CAS
- Tuberculosis (TB) test results if from a TB country
- Proof of financial support, e.g. bank statements or letter from your sponsor
Please note, the visa officer may require additional documents from you. You may also be requested to provide biometric data. Biometric data means digital fingerprints. They usually take the fingerprints at the visa application centre.
Generally, the visa application is done online with the only exception being North Korea. You will need to submit the necessary information via the online forms. Important to remember is you may be required at any time to submit additional information and even go for an interview.
The visa officer handling your application can request an interview. The interview helps the visa officer understand more about your application and clarify your intentions. It is also an opportunity for the visa officer to meet you and get to know you. Ultimately, the visa officer must understand your intentions to make their decision.
As part of your application, you need to pay some fees:
- Application fee of £335 for Tier 4
- Application fee of £93 for 6 month visa or £179 for 11 month visa
- Healthcare surcharge of £150 per year for Tier 4
Further information about the healthcare surcharge payment is here.
After you apply:
Once you have submitted your application and paid the fees, you need to wait. If your application is approved, then you can go to the visa application centre to pick up the passport. You should also collect your biometric residence permit within 10 days of your stated arrival to the UK. This can be even if you will have to arrive later. It is about the date you state on the application.
- Note: You can only arrive in the UK 1 week before the start of a short course of less than 6 months or 1 month before the start of course last more than 6 months.
Now that you have your passport and biometric residence permit, you can get ready to pack and buy your ticket!