UK Study Visas for U.S. Citizens

U.S. citizens who wish to study in the United Kingdom will need to apply for a UK student visa. This visa permits applicants 16 years and older to live and study in the UK throughout their course.

If you have any questions regarding the UK student visa application process for US citizens, contact our expert immigration lawyers today. Call us at 0333 305 9375 or leave a message on our live chat.

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    What are the eligibility requirements for the Student Visa application?

    The UK student visa has completely replaced the Tier 4 General student visa that used to permit students visas. As an American, if you wish to stay longer than 6 months in the UK for school, you will need to obtain a student visa. The requirements for international students applying for a UK Student Visa are as follows:

    • The applicant is at least 16 years of age
    • The applicant has been offered a place on a course of study by a certified student sponsor in the UK
    • Applicants aged 16 and 17 must have consent from their parents

    Other international students will need to prove their English language courses and financial requirements, but as Americans, this is not applicable. However, it is required to provide evidence of enough money to pay for the tuition fees for up to 9 months or one full academic year.

    Any US applicants that are under 16 years old may be eligible for a student route visa via a child student visa, which is a separate visa and has its own separate requirements.

    The list of acceptable educational institutions for UK Student Visa requirements can be found here on the UK government immigration website. With your offer letter, the education institution will provide a unique Confirmation of Acceptance of Studies (CAS). You must apply for a UK student visa within 6 months of receiving your CAS.

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    What can you do with a UK Student Visa?

    U.S. students in the UK are able to do the following things while studying in the UK:

    • 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’s equivalent to a UK 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.

    What is not allowed on a Student Visa?

    Likewise, the study visa does not permit American students to:

    • Claim public 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)
    studying for post-graduate degree

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      How to apply for a UK Student Visa

      To apply for a Student Visa, American students will first need an unconditional acceptance letter from the UK educational institution they wish to attend.

      Students in the U.S. are permitted to apply for their visas either in the United States (or anywhere outside the UK) or from within the UK. The application form is available online, making it quite easy and efficient to complete. There is also an application fee that needs to be paid upon making an application for the student route.

      If you are applying from the U.S, you can apply for a Student Visa up to 6 months before the course start date.

      If you are applying for a visa from within the UK, you are permitted to make the application 3 months before the start of your course. In this case, you will need to begin your application before your current UK visa expires, and within 28 days of your current visa expiring.

      If the student visa is granted, American students can enter into the UK either 1 week their course start date (if your course lasts 6 months or less) or up to 1 month prior (if the course lasts more than 6 months).

      What documents are required for UK Student Visas?

      Like all UK visas, as part of the UK student visa requirements, US applicants will need to provide specific information and documentation to showcase their eligibility for this visa.

      These supporting documents are as follows:

      • A valid, current passport or another valid travel document
      • The Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) from your course provider
      • Proof of parental or other legal guardian consent (for under 18-year-olds)
      • Proof of your relationship to your parent and guardian if you are under 18 years old.

      All documents have to be submitted in either English or Welsh. If you need it translated, it has to be done by an accredited translator. Both the original and the translated versions must be included in your supporting documents.

      Applicants under 18 years of age will need written consent from both parents, both legal guardians, or one parent/guardian (if they have sole responsibility for the child) in order to study in the UK.

      The parents/guardians must provide proof to the UK government that they consent to the following:

      • The student visa application
      • The living and care arrangements for their children(s) while in the UK
      • All travel/transport to and from the UK
      • The student’s birth certificate (or any other valid U.S government-issued document) confirms the relationship between student and parent.

      Is there a visa fee for the Student Visa UK?

      The fee for a UK Student Visa is £348 if applied for from outside the UK. However, if you switch to a Student Visa from different immigration permission from within the UK, the fee is £475.

      In addition to the standard application fee, American international students’ annual immigration health surcharge costs £470 per year.

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

        If you have family dependents from your home country that you wish to come along with you while you study in the UK, they will need their own immigration permission. Generally, it’s possible for dependents to join students in the UK if the student is 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, common-law partner, or 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.

        These applicants need to show the relationship by providing:

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

        Dependents will not receive a visitor visa, but all dependent visas will be valid for as long as the student’s visa is valid.

        Can my visa be extended to stay longer in the UK?

        U.S. student visa holders are able to extend their visas under the following conditions:

        • The students are already present in the UK on a Student Visa
        • The students hold a valid, unconditional offer from a place on a course with a licenced student sponsor (demonstrated Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies)
        • The students are able to demonstrate that their studies are at a higher academic level than their current course (known as the ‘academic progress requirement’)

        It is possible to make your extension up to 3 months before the course starts before your current visa expires. You can stay in the UK until a decision has been reached on the extension.

        It costs £475 to extend the visa, and you will need to continue to pay the annual immigration health surcharge towards the UK’s national health service at a rate of £470 per year.

        The student applies online for the extension, like the original visa.  Decisions are usually made within 8 weeks.

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                  Frequently Asked Questions

                  American students on a UK Student Visa are permitted to work. Adult students doing a UK degree course can work 20 hours per week and it must not interfere with their studies.

                  If you stop studying before you have completed the full length of your course, you cannot continue to work.

                  It’s possible to switch to the student route if you are in the UK on:

                  • A Child Student Visa in the UK
                  • A participant in the International Graduates Scheme/The Science and Engineering Graduates Scheme
                  • A participant in the ‘Fresh Talent: Working in Scotland’ scheme
                  • A post-graduate doctor or dentist
                  • A student nurse
                  • A current student re-sitting an examination
                  • A current student writing a thesis
                  • A student union sabbatical officer
                  • A work permit holder

                  However, it is not possible to  switch to this visa if you are in the UK under these visas:

                  • A Visit Visa
                  • Short-term Student Visa
                  • Parent of a Child Student Visa
                  • Seasonal worker visa
                  • Domestic worker in private household visa
                  • Leave outside the immigration rules