Last Updated on March 30, 2022 by Visa Journal
If you plan to study in the UK as an international student, you need a UK student visa. Getting this visa can be a long process, so you should prepare well in advance. In most cases, you should start preparing at least three to six months before your course starts.
Over 400,000 international student visas were granted in 2021 up to September. Compared to 2020, this represents a 143% jump in the number of visas granted. Most of those acquiring these visas are international students from non-EU countries. Meeting all the requirements increases your chances of you getting the visa.
Types of UK Student Visa
The UK Student Visa (formerly known as the Tier 4 visa) is for students aged 16 and up who intend to study at the post-secondary level. If the student is between the ages of 4 and 17 and is studying at the secondary level or lower, they should apply for the Child Student Visa (previously Tier 4 child visa). Another sort of study visa is known as a Short-term Study Visa. This option is for the students who wish to participate in a short English language course for more than 6 months but not more than 11 months.
Generally, you need the following documents when submitting the application for all types of student visas mentioned in the previous section:
- A valid passport
- Recent photograph
- Have a letter of an acceptance from the college or university
- Tuberculosis screening certificate issued by a UKVI-approved Tuberculosis Test Centre (Only required for certain countries)
- Receipt of a £150 for National Health Service (NHS) coverage for the first year
- An ATAS certificate if you study a sensitive subject and are a non-EU/EEA/Swiss student.
Apart from above, there are specific language and financial requirements you need when apply for the aforementioned visas.
1. Child Student Visa
- Language: CEFR* B1 level (Equivalent IELTS Band 4.0)
- Financial: 1st year complete tuition fee and 9 months of living cost expenses
- Visa Fees: £365
2. Short Term Study Visa (For more than 6 months but not more than 11 months)
- Language: Not required
- Financial: Full course/program tuition fee and 9 months of living cost expenses
- Visa Fees: £196
3. UK Student Visa
- Language: CEFR* B2 level (IELTS Band 5.5) for degree level and above; CEFR* B1 level (IELTS Band 4.0) for below degree level
- Financial: 1st Year tuition fee and 9 months of living cost expenses
- Visa Fees: £365
Please refer to the UK government website to know the up to date visa fees.
You can only apply for a UK student visa online. The earliest you can start the application is six months before your course starts (for Outside UK applications). If applying from outside the UK, identity verification is a must. Verification requirements will depend on the country you are from and your passport. You will either have to:
- Go to the visa processing center to submit your photograph and fingerprints.
- Scan your identity documents using the ‘UK Immigration: ID Check’ app.
You will know if you need to verify your identity when submitting your application.
UK student visa processing time
The UK student visa processing time is three weeks from outside the UK. If applying within the UK, the processing time is eight weeks. There is an option to get the decision faster by paying a fee. With this, you can get the visa within one to five days of making the application.
What next after applying?
After making your application, you can sit back and wait for processing. You will be able to change or withdraw your application for any reason. You will only get your refund if the application process hasn’t started.
If your application takes longer, you will know immediately. Applications take longer if:
- Verification of supporting documents is necessary.
- You have to attend an interview.
- You have unique circumstances, such as having a criminal conviction.
Can you work in the UK with a student visa?
If you are wondering if you can work in the UK on a student status; the answer is, it depends. How much you can work will depend on what you are studying and your term schedule. Students on full-time degree-level courses with a Student visa may work in the UK. The following are the prerequisites and rules;
- During the academic year, you may work up to 20 hours per week
- During vacation periods, full-time
- If you have a Student visa for a part-time course, you will not be able to work in the UK, either paid or unpaid.
The UK student visa requirements may change anytime. You should thus check out the official UK government for latest updates.
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