UK Visas and Immigration manages UK student visa requirements and general immigration criteria, and it provides an easy-to-navigate website to help you figure out if you need a UK student visa. While Swiss nationals and EU/EEA citizens do not now require a visa to study in the UK, all other international students will very certainly require one.
The outcome of the United Kingdom’s referendum on EU membership (‘Brexit’) has caused some confusion in visa restrictions, however the UK government has maintained that EU citizens’ rights and status would not change until 2021.
Types of UK student visa
If you’re over 18 and doing a short course, you might be eligible for a short-term study visa. For most short courses, this is valid for up to six months, and for English language courses, it can be extended for up to 11 months.
If you’re taking a lengthier course, be sure the institution you’ve chosen has a Tier 4 Sponsor License. If you’re between the ages of 4 and 17 and want to study at an independent school in the UK, you can apply for a Tier 4 (Child) student visa, or a Tier 4 (General) student visa if you’re 16 or older.
UK student visa requirements
If you have been offered a place on a course, your course provider may be ready to assist you in applying for a UK student visa; inquire to see if this is the case. You can apply for the visa up to three months ahead of your course’s start date. Check your country’s average visa processing times and give yourself plenty of time.
A points-based system is used to issue student visas in the United Kingdom. You’ll need to furnish the following items in order to meet all of the UK student visa requirements:
- Your passport’s information
- A photograph taken recently
- An unconditional offer of a spot on a program delivered by a licensed Tier 4 Sponsor, as indicated by your course provider’s ‘Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies’ (CAS) form (worth 30 points)
- Passing one of the secure English language tests as proof of adequate English language skills (SELT). If you are from an English-speaking country, such as the United States, or if you have achieved a qualification equivalent to a UK degree in an English-speaking country, you will not be required to supply this information.
- Proof of financial assistance for the duration of your stay in the UK (worth 10 points)
- You may additionally need an ATAS certificate if you’re a non-EU/EEA/Swiss student studying a sensitive subject.
Bank statements or a letter from your financial sponsor can be used as proof of financial support, demonstrating that you can fund your tuition, housing, and living expenses. If you’re studying in the UK outside of London, you’ll need to show that you have £1,015 (US$1,300) a month for living expenses, and £1,265 (US$1,600) if you’re studying in London.
You may also be asked to provide documentation demonstrating your academic credentials, as well as to participate in an interview or biometric test, which includes a digital scan of your fingerprints. You may also be required to undergo specific medical immunizations or a tuberculosis test, depending on your place of origin.
If you’re 16 or 17 years old and applying for the Tier 4 (General) student visa, you must have written consent from your parents/guardians that you can live and travel independently.
You must apply online for the Tier 4 (General) Student visa, ensuring you’ve read the full guidance here. You can apply up to three months before the start of your course.