How To Get a Student Visa to England, UK
If you live outside the UK, Switzerland or the European Economic Union (EEU) you may need to have a student visa in order to study in England. You will need this whether you intend to study at a university such as Cambridge University or if you are studying at a college. Updated rules are being brought into place on 6th April 2012. This guide is based on the updated rules.
Who Needs a Student Visa
If you are a National from a country outside the areas mentioned above, you will need a student visa if you are planning to come and study for more than 6 months.
Where Should You Apply for a Student Visa?
You need to apply for a student visa in your country of nationality or in another country if you live there permanently. You should not come to England and then apply for a student visa retrospectively. In most countries you must apply for the visa online at www.visa4uk.fco.gov.uk .
When Should You Apply for a Student Visa?
You can apply no earlier than 3 months before your course begins. Bearing in mind the length of time it can take to obtain a student visa, you would be advised to apply no later than 2 months before your course begins or you risk having to start your course late if your visa doesn’t come in time.
University Courses usually start in September, so for these you will need to apply for your visa in June or July.
What are the Conditions for Applying for a Student Visa?
1) Valid confirmation of acceptance of a place on a course, which you will study for at least 15 hours per week,at an acceptable level with an approved education provider. The List of approved education providers is available in the links section at the bottom of the page
2) Acceptable English language skills i.e. acceptable for the level of course you will be studying.
3) Finance - from the 6th of April 2012, to be eligible for a visa you need to show that your first year's tuition fees (or total tuition fees if the course is shorter than one year) and a minimum of £800 for each month of study up to £7200 has been in your bank account, or your parent's bank account, for 28 consecutive days. This amount is for your living costs whilst in England. Tuition fee costs vary from institution to Institution but as a guide expect to pay a minimum of £10000 for one year’s tuition for an undergraduate degree.
The exception to this is if you are fully sponsored by the UK government or your home government, The British Council, an international scholarship organisation, An international company (which must operate in more than one overseas country) or a university. In this case you will need to provide an official sponsor letter.
4) Submission of your original passport, valid for at least the next few months with blank pages left in it.
5) Submit original documentation to support your eligibility with a printed and completed Appendix 8 form. The link to this form is below.
6) Online application must also be completed at www.visa4uk.fco.gov.uk .
7) Enrol your fingerprints and facial image (known as 'biometric information') at a visa application centre
8) Payment of £289 for the student visa
How Long Will the Application Take to Be Approved?
This will vary depending on your country of nationality. Specific information on this can be found via one of the links at the end. In the USA the UK Border Agency statistics show that they are processing 100% of student visas within 10 days at the moment. In Canada, India and Pakistan their service standards aim for 98% being processed within 6 weeks and 100% in 12 weeks..
What Does the Student Visa Entitle You to Do?
You should be granted immigration permission which begins 1 month before your course begins. You can travel to England anytime on or after this date.
You can live in England for the duration of your studies.
You can work for a maximum of 10 hours a week during term time and you can work full time during holidays.
Depending on the length of the course you can stay in England for 1-4 months after the course ends.
If you are bringing other family members with you e.g. partner or children they must apply separately for a visa.
On Arrival at Your Course Provider’s Institution
You will need to register for your course and show your student visa and your passport.
- Appendix V8 Form
Essential form to fill in, print out and send along side your documents to the UK Border Agency in your country.
- UK Border Agency | Visa application centres overseas
Page with links to UK Border agencies in other countries form where you can find length of time the application should take to be approved
- Approved Course Providers
A list of approved course providers if applying for a student visa.
- visa4UK :: Welcome
The online Student Visa application form
- Visa guidance (The University of Manchester)
Visa Guidance from the University of Manchester
Useful Further Reading
Trotman are very respected publishers of educational books. This is a useful guide.