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UK Study Visas

The majority of international students require a student visa to study in the United Kingdom. There are a number of student route visas, depending on your circumstances.

If you have any questions regarding the UK student visa application process, you can contact our expert immigration lawyers to discuss any concerns you may have, or for some help navigating the application process. You can call us on 0333 305 9375, or contact us online seven days a week via our live chat.

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    What are the different UK Study visas?

    There are three types of UK student visas, which are specifically targeted at students of different ages and those looking to study long-term or short-term. These are:

    • Short-term Study Visa
    • General Student Visa
    • Child Student Visa

    The most common of these is the General Student visa, which is the visa that most students over the age of 16 will require if wishing to study in the UK long-term.

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    Who can apply for a study visa?

    People who are interested in studying in the UK may apply for a UK Study Visa. There are a number of eligibility requirements, depending on the student visa you select.

    The Short Term Study Visa requires applicants to:

    • You must be 16 or older to apply
    • Been accepted onto an English language course that lasts 11 months or less and includes no other subject
    • Your course is with an accredited institution
    • You have enough money to support yourself without working or help from public funds, or that relatives and friends can support you
    • You can pay for your return or onward journey

    If you’re under 18 you must also:

    • Have arrangements for your travel and stay in the UK
    • Have the consent of your parent or guardian to study in the UK

    The student visa has replaced the Tier 4 General student visa. International students interested in getting a student visa in the UK:

    Have been offered a place on a course of study by a certified student sponsor in the UK

    • Be 16 years old
    • Can prove they have enough money to support for life and for the course (if you are from a country that requires this)
    • Can prove that they have English language proficiency (if you are from a country that requires this)
    • Applicants aged 16 and 17 must have consent from their parents

    Finally, there is the child student visa. For this student route visa, applicants must:

    • Holds a valid acceptance letter and a confirmed spot at a private/ independent school that is fee-paying
    • Be between 4-17 years of age
    • The school must be recognized by the UK government and the school needs to provide a valid CAS number or Confirmation of Acceptance for studies
    • Parents/guardians must provide written consent
    • There must be no immigration issues such as breaching immigration laws/rules
    • English language skills must be proven
    •  Evidence of any required qualifications to attend specific courses
    • Evidence that the children(s) will return to their home country after completing their studies
    • Have 70 points towards the immigration points system.

    The list of acceptable educational institutions can be found here on the UK government immigration website, including further information about visa and tuition information.

    With your offer letter, the education instruction can provide a Confirmation of Acceptance of Studies (CAS). You must apply for the visa within 6 months of receiving your CAS.

    What privileges do Study Visas allow the holder?

    Student visas permit holders to:

    • Attend a full-time course leading to a qualification that is below degree level (for example RFQ level 3-5) with a minimum of 15 per week of daytime study
    • Join courses leading to a qualification that is degree level or higher (for example RFQ level 6, 7, or 8)
    • Join courses at degree level or above (for example RFQ level 6,7 or 8) that are equivalent to a United Kingdom higher education course and is being delivered as part of a longer course overseas
    • Join courses leading to a qualification that’s above degree level (RFQ level 7 or above)
    • Attend a recognized foundation program for postgraduate doctors or dentists
    • Attend an English language course at level B2 or above in the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages
    • Take up a full-time position as a Student Union Sabbatical Officer.


    Postgraduate doctors and dentists can apply for a student visa to attend a recognition foundation program if, they:

    • Already completed a recognized United Kingdom degree in medicine or dentistry and received that degree from a registered student sponsor – considered “world-class graduate education.”
    • Spent the final year, and at least 1 other year of studies leading to that degree in the United Kingdom

    Likewise, the study visa does not permit you to:

    • Claim public funds (benefits) and pensions inside the UK
    • Get a job or work placement in certain jobs, for example as a professional sportsperson or sports coach or be self-employed
    • Study at an academy or a local authority-funded school (also known as a maintained school)

    Get in touch with our expert immigration lawyers to receive assistance with your study visa applicationtoday Contact Us

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      What is the student visa application process?

      This will vary slightly, depending on which visa you wish to apply for. However, the process is generally as follows for each:

      1. To start the application, international students require an acceptance letter from the UK educational institution they wish to attend before making a study visa application. International students may start the application 6 months before starting to study in the UK.
      2. Applications are all done online, via the UK government website.
      3. Students can arrive in the UK up to 1 week before their course starts, if the length of your course is 6 months or less, or can arrive in the UK up to 1 month before the course starts if it lasts more than 6 months.

      Normally, the student visa process does not involve an interview for many international students, unless your case is considered complex.

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      What documents are required for a UK Student Visa?

      To apply for a student visa, supporting documents are required. These will vary again depending on which student route the applicant is applying for. In general, these are:

      • A current passport or other valid travel documentation – with at least one blank page
      • Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) from your UK course provider or university
      • Proof you have enough money to support yourself and pay for your course
      • A valid ATAS certificate (if your course and home country require it)
      • Proof of parental/guardian/carer consent if you’re under 18 and proof of your relationship (such as a birth certificate with their names) to your parent or guardian if you’re under 18. They must provide consent for your application, your living in the United Kingdom, and your travel.
      • Tuberculosis test results (if applicable)
      • Written consent for your application from your financial sponsor if you’ve received sponsorship for your course fees and living costs in the last 12 months.

      For each visa, you will need to prove your identity. How you do this depends on where you’re from and what type of passport you have. You will either, provide fingerprints and a photograph (biometric information) to a visa application centre or Use the ‘UK Immigration: ID Check’ app to scan your identity document – you’ll also create or sign in to your UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) account


      Can my family members come with me while I study in the UK?

      All Student visas will allow dependent family members to come to the UK with you in certain circumstances, except for the Short term student visa.

      For the general student visa, if you have family and wish for them to come with you while you study in the UK, you’ll need immigration permission but its possible if you are either:

      • A government-sponsored student starting a course that lasts 6 months or longer
      • Enrolled in a postgraduate course designated as a research programme that lasts 9 months or longer

      Eligible postgraduate programmes include PhDs and other doctoral qualifications or masters programmes with a research component, including a requirement to produce original work.

      International students who do not fit either one of these categories will not be eligible to bring their dependents with them to the UK.

      This restriction will apply for all international students starting courses from 1 January 2024.

      The UK government defines a dependent as a legal spouse, civil partner, or common-law partner, children under the age of 18. Families will need to prove relationships with the dependents by marriage/civil partnership paperwork and/or birth certificates for children.

      If your dependents do live with you, you’ll need to provide 2 of the following documents:

      • A bank account statement
      • Credit card bills
      • Driving license
      • NHS (health insurance) registration document
      • An official letter from their university degree program or college

      They will not have a visitor visa, but all dependent visas will be valid for as long as the Student’s visa is valid.
      It is possible for the Parent and/or legal guardian of children on the child visa to be permitted to go to the UK so long they hold a separate visa of their own. Other family members are not permitted to come to the UK unless they have a separate visa that is in no way connected to the child’s student visa.

      Parents who wish to join a child on a Child Student visa will have to apply for a Parent of a Child Visa. They must meet the following requirements:

      • Your child is should be between four and eleven years old
      • Your child is attending an independent school in the UK
      • You are the only (1) parent of your child accompanying them in the UK
      • You continue to maintain your primary residence in your country of residence
      • You can provide concrete plans that you intend to leave the UK when your visa expires
      • You are permitted to stay in the UK until the expiration of your child’s visa, or until they turn 12 years old (whichever happens first).

      It may be possible to extend the visa if you meet the criteria. If your child wishes to continue to study in the UK after 12 years old, parents must make sure that arrangements are in place to facilitate their ongoing care.

      While in the UK on a Parent of a Child visa, parents can not obtain a full-time permanent job, study, start a business, apply for benefits, bring any other family member to the UK or make the UK your primary residence.

      Student reading in library

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        Can I get immigration permission to extend my stay in the UK?

        If you have enjoyed your time in the UK, most international students want to explore another immigration route to stay in the UK.

        Students living in the UK with a short-term student visa can stay in the UK strictly only for the length of your course plus an extra 30 days, but they can not extend the visa as the stay can not be longer than 11 months.

        Holders of the general student visa are permitted to apply to extend their visa before the end date of their current student visa, up to 3 months early. To do this, you must:

        • Be in the United Kingdom on a UK Student visa
        • Have an unconditional offer to a study in the UK from a course that is licensed to sponsor student visa holders by the United Kingdom’s government
        • Prove that your studies are at a higher academic level than your current course (called the ‘academic progress requirement’)

        Your new course must be one of the following:

        • A higher academic level than your current course
        • At the same level and related to your previous course, educational opportunities, or career aspirations
        • Related or a continuation to medicine, dentistry, or medical science course you started studying under your Student visa

        It is also possible to switch to a Graduate Visa, another student route to stay in the UK for at least 2 years after completing your course.

        If your dependents came with you to the United Kingdom, they will need to apply separately to extend their visa. They do their new visa applications at the same time as you, or before their current visa expires.

        The application fee to extend the visa is £475 per person. It typically takes 8 weeks.

        The Child Student Visa can also be extended. In order to do this, applicants should apply before the current visa expires and the new educational course has to start within 28 days of your current visa expiring. To extend your visa, you must:

        • Be in the UK already on an existing Child Student visa
        • Have an unconditional offer on a course with a licensed Child Student sponsor – shown by your Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS)
        • Children that are 16 or 17 years old and are on a course that lasts longer than the maximum permitted time of three years, will have to apply again before the expiration date of their current visa.

        Extension applications can be completed online and must include identification verification. The fee to extend the visa is £475. Anyone 18 and over, will have to need to transfer to a Student visa route if they want to keep studying in the UK. It should take about 8 weeks to get a decision on an extension of a visa.

        mother playing with child

        What are the student visa fees?

        As of March 2024, the fees for Student visas is as follows:

        • For the short-term visa, the fee is £200.
        • The student visa fee is £490.
        • For the child visa, it costs £490.

        You will also need sufficient finances to pay for travel, accommodation, and your course(s). You will additionally need to pay the immigration healthcare surcharge for every year you’ll be in the UK (normally around £776 a year as of 2024)

        How Total Law Can Help

        Studying in the UK is a sought-after experience. Not only does the UK offer excellent educational institutions but it permits holders to experience a new culture and way of life. It can be challenging to determine which of the three UK study visas is most appropriate for you. Let the pristine team at Total Law help!

        We can support you throughout the application process and help ensure you get the visa approved. We are available to support you seven days a week, either by phone or through our online chat function.

        Call us on 0333 305 9375, or reach out to us online.

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                  Frequently Asked Questions

                  “CAS” is short for confirmation of acceptance for studies. The CAS number is generated to study in the UK after applicants accept their offer to the UK education institute and meet all conditions. It will come no earlier than six months before you study in the UK.

                  If your semester lasts six months or shorter, then you may be able to enter the UK on a Standard Visitor visa.

                  This visa allows for the following activities:

                  • Study at an accredited institution
                  • Do a short piece of research that’s relevant to your course overseas
                  • Do an ‘elective’ course if you’re studying medicine, veterinary medicine and science, nursing, midwifery or dentistry
                  • Sit an entrance exam, retake an exam or course module, or do a PhD oral exam
                  • Do an unpaid clinical attachment if you’re a graduate from a medical, dental or nursing school
                  • Take the Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE) test or the Professional and Linguistic Assessment Board (PLAB) test

                  No, the school does not have the authority to expedite student visa applications.

                  Students who are in the UK on a general student visa are permitted to get a job, though they are limited on how many hours they can work. Short-term student visa holders are not permitted to work.