UK Student Visa Guide

Srishti Chatterjee
Updated on Feb 08, 2023 3:34 PM IST

Latest Update

  • February 08,2023 12:00 AM IST
  • The UK Young Professionals Scheme, part of the Youth Mobility Scheme, is set to start between February 28 and March 2 this year. Indian students can apply for this scheme even without any sponsor or job offer.

  • January 27,2023 12:00 AM IST
  • The UK is expected to cut down the provision of allowing foreign nationals to stay back in the country. The new proposal is expected to ‘reform’ the Graduate Route by requiring foreign nationals to apply for a work visa after receiving a skilled job or leave the country within six months of graduation.

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Visa and Permits in the UK

The visa system in the UK for students has undergone a few changes. Here’s all about the types of student visas in the UK:

Student Visa (Previously Tier 4 Visa)

On October 5, 2020, the Tier 4 visa became the Student Route, which falls under the new points-based immigration system. Anyone who is 16 or above and wishes to study at a UK higher education institution will have to apply for a student visa. 

The Graduate Route is expected to open for international students on June 1, 2021. The new route will open to foreign students who have completed their bachelors or doctoral degree in the UK and have a history of compliance with the immigration requirements in the UK. However, visas that have been issued through the Tier 4 route will remain valid.

Short-term Student Route (Previously Short-term Study Visas)

Short-term student route visas are for students who want to enrol in English language programmes up to 11 months long or other programmes up to six months long.

Other Types of Visa

Foreign applicants who are aged between four and 17 years old and wish to study at an independent school in the UK can apply for a Child Student Visa. He/she should also be able to prove they will have access to enough money to study and live in the UK.

Also Read: Stay Back Period and Post Study Work Permit in the UK

Applying for a UK Student Visa? Have Your Applications Reviewed Here!

UK Student Visa Rules & Regulations

International students looking to pursue higher education in the UK must apply for a Student Visa and abide by these rules:

  • The length of stay in the UK would depend on the length of the course and what the applicant's current qualification is.

  • International students will be allowed to extend their visa is they continue their studies in the UK, switch to a Student visa from another visa in case they are already in the UK or if they find a job after studying in the UK.

  • After receiving the UK Student Visa, the student must arrive in the UK before their course starts (up to one week before if the length of the course is 6 months or less; and up to one month before if the course is longer than 6 months).

  • Children or partners of the applicant may be allowed to come to the UK if the applicant is a full-time postgraduate student that lasts 9 months or longer; a Doctorate Extension Scheme student; or a new student sponsored by the government of the UK to study a course longer than 6 months.

  • The dependant should be a husband, wife, civil partner, unmarried partner, a child under 18 years old. The applicant will be required to provide evidence of the relationship.

  • Only those who already have permission to stay in the UK can switch to a Student Visa.

  • Students aged 16 or above are allowed to allowed part-time even if they are limited to participating in a course-related work placement.

  • Students who are allowed to work while studying can do so for maximum weekly hours in a term time and full-time outside term time.

  • Once the student has completed his/her course, they may work full-time, leave and re-enter the UK to work.

  • The new Graduate Route (opening for applications on July 1, 2021) will let international students who have completed their undergraduate or doctoral degree in the UK to work for up to two and three years respectively.

Eligibility Criteria to Apply for a UK Student Visa

Only those who meet the following criteria can apply for a UK Student Visa:

  • Have been admitted to a course by a licensed student sponsor

  • Have proven that they have enough money to support themselves and pay for their course

  • Must be able to speak, read, write and understand English

  • If one is 16 or 17, then they must have consent from their parents.

Best Time to Apply for a UK Student Visa

The right time to apply for a UK student visa would depend on where a student is applying from:

If Applying from Outside the UK

Applying six months before the start of the course would be ideal. The decision is usually communicated within three weeks. 

If Applying from Inside the UK

The best time would be three months before the course commences and before one’s current UK visa expires. The decision is usually communicated within eight weeks.

Also Read: Indian Student Visas Granted in the UK Doubles Over Last Year

See if You Have Everything to Apply for a UK Student Visa Here!

Duration of Stay on a UK Student Visa

This would vary on the basis of the length of the course and what degree the applicant has already completed. If the student is 18 or above and the course is at degree level, he/she can stay in the UK for up to five years. In case it is below degree level, then he/she would be allowed to stay in the UK for up to two years.  

Can One Stay Longer in the UK

One can stay longer in the UK by:

  • Extending their visa if they are eligible, for instance, if they continue their studies in the UK.

  • Switching to a Student visa from another visa if they are already in the UK.

UK Student Visa Fees

A UK Student Visa would cost:

  • £348 when applying from outside the UK

  • £475 to extend or switch to a Student visa from inside the UK

Note: Separate fees should be paid for each person that joins you to the UK.

Dos & Don'ts for an International Student on a UK Student Visa

An international student with a UK Student Visa can:

Dos:

  • Work as a student union sabbatical officer

  • Study

  • Work depending on what he/she is studying and whether they are working in or out of term-time

An international student with a UK Student Visa cannot:

Don'ts:

  • Work in certain jobs including as a professional sportsperson or sports coach

  • Claim public funds and pensions

  • Be self-employed

  • Study at a local authority-funded/maintained school or n academy

Courses an International Student Can Study on a UK Student Visa

A UK Student Visa allows an international student to take up one of the following courses:

  • a full-time course leading to a below degree level qualification with a minimum of 15 hours a week of daytime study.

  • a full-time course leading to a degree level or above qualification.

  • a degree-level or above full-time course equivalent to a UK higher education course and is being delivered as part of a longer course abroad

  • a part-time course leading to an above degree level qualification 

  • a recognised foundation course for postgraduate dentists or doctors

  • an English language course at B2 level or above in the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages

The qualification levels will be different in Scotland.

An international student can also apply for the Student Visa if they are:

  • Planning on becoming a full-time elected Student Union Sabbatical Officer

  • Applying to extend your stay on the Doctorate Extension Scheme

Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS)

A reference number called the CAS will be sent to the student once they’ve offered him/her a place on the course. The same shall be entered on the visa application, which one should apply for within six months of receiving the CAS.

Need Help Applying for a UK Student Visa?

How to Apply for a UK Student Visa

Here are the steps that one needs to follow while applying for a UK Student Visa:

  • Step 1: One must check if they qualify for a UK student visa or not. For the same, one must have a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) and evidence to prove that they have enough money to finance their studies.

  • Step 2: The applicant must keep all the required documents handy.

  • Step 3: Apply. Applicants can either apply online by completing the student visa application and submitting it on the official UK visa website or they can print and sign the application form and book an appointment at the visa application centre.

  • Step 4: Pay the application fee using the available methods i.e. online, at the visa application centre, demand draft from a nationalised or foreign bank, or at Standard Chartered Bank.

  • Step 5: As part of the visa application process, one will have to prove their identity which will vary according to their home country and the type of passport they hold. However, one would have to either give their fingerprints and a photograph at a visa application centre, or use the ‘UK Immigration: ID Check’ app to scan their identity document.

Documents Required for the UK Student Visa

Students must submit the following documents for obtaining UK Student Visa –

  • Passport or a Valid Travel Documentation

  • A CAS (Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies) from the university

  • Proof justifying that they can support themselves and pay the course fee in the UK (Proof of Financial Capability)

  • Details of their intended place of stay

  • their Tuberculosis test results

  • a valid ATAS certificate if their nationality or course requires it

  • Proof of  consent of parent/guardian if the student is below 18 years of age

  • Proof of their relationship with their parent or guardian if they are under 18

  • Written consent for application from their financial sponsor in case they have received sponsorship for their tuition fees and living expenses over the past year

Also Read: Details on the list of documents required for Indian students to apply for UK Visa 

How to Extend a UK Student Visa

One may be able to extend their UK Student Visa to stay longer in the UK or start a new course. (It also applies to those with a UK Tier 4 Visa).

To extend a UK Student Visa, one should:

  • have an unconditional course offer with a licensed student sponsor.

  • Display that their studies are at a higher academic level than the current course.

  • If the applicant has been in the UK with a valid visa for less than 12 months, he/she will need to prove that they have enough money to support themselves in the UK.

Where to Apply for a UK Student Visa in India

Although students can apply for a UK Student Visa online, here is the list of all the visa application centres in India:

Delhi

VFS Global Services Pvt. Ltd.

Mezzanine Floor, Baba Kadak Singh Marg, Shivaji Stadium Metro Station,

Connaught Place, New Delhi 110001

Maharashtra

VFS Global Services Pvt. Ltd.

Urmi Axis Building, 1st Floor, Behind Famous Studio, Opp E Moses Road,

Mahalaxmi West, Mumbai 400011

Tamil Nadu

VFS Global Services Pvt. Ltd.

Fagun Towers, Second Floor, No 74,

Ethiraj Salai, Egmore, Chennai 600008

Use Our Comprehensive Search Tool To Find the Best University for You!

UK Visa Interview Questions and Answers

When applying for the appropriate visas, it is important to be well-prepared for the visa interview and the different questions that will be asked. The interviewer will ask questions pertaining to the intentions of the applicant of travelling to and living in the UK as well as their return at the end of the visa validity period.

Therefore, there are certain things that visa applicants should keep in mind when answering the questions raised by the UK official conducting the interview, which have been outlined below:

  • Keep the answers true and reliable. They should not contradict the answers that were given previously.

  • The answers must be brief and to the point. Overexplaining can affect the interview negatively.

  • Prioritise the points that should be mentioned.

Common Questions Raised in UK Visa Interviews

Listed below are some of the common visa interview questions raised in UK visa appointments.

  • Why do you want to visit the UK?

  • Have you been to the UK before?

  • Why did you choose the UK for higher studies?

  • Would you like to work in the UK?

  • What are you doing currently?

  • Who is funding your studies and living in the UK?

  • What do your parents do?

  • Why do you choose this university/course to study?

  • What are your goals for the future?

  • Will you be travelling alone to the UK?

  • Where will you stay in the UK?

There are several other questions that can be raised during the interview, which will be based on the information candidates have provided in their application form as well as their performance during the interview. If you wish to learn how to answer these questions, then check out how to answer UK Student Visa Interview Questions and Answers.

UK Visa Reasons for Rejections

Applying for visas can be one of the easiest steps to take, however, there are several ways that can land your UK visa application in the rejection pile. Some of these reasons include

  • Errors in the Visa Application: Any mistakes or errors, including providing the wrong answers to a certain question in the application form can lead to the visa application being rejected.

  • Incomplete or fraudulent documents: Submitting incomplete documents can be a cause for cancellation, however, the visa officers may allow candidates additional time to submit the required documents.

    • However, candidates providing fraudulent documents may find themselves in a heap of trouble, as not only will their applications be rejected but they may actually be restricted from applying for a UK visa in the future.

    • In addition to this, candidates must submit the original documents, instead of duplicate or copied documents.

  • Previous Criminal Record: Having a legally checkered past can be a cause of rejection of the UK visa application if the visa official deems the crime too severe to oversee.

  • Ambiguous Intentions of Travelling/Living in UK: One of the important factors affecting the status of the visa application is the true intent of the candidate for travelling to the country. An ambiguous or unclear motive may lead the official to reject the application altogether.

  • Language Incompetency: A key requirement for the UK visa is providing valid English language proficiency test scores. Providing an unsatisfactory score may also lead to the cancellation of the scores.

  • Unsatisfactory Academic Report: Candidates travelling to the UK for higher studies must ensure that they have the necessary academic qualifications that are acceptable to UK universities. Those that do not meet the academic requirements may find themselves in trouble.

Learn more about the leading reasons for rejection of UK visa that could help catapult your academic and professional prospects to new heights.

UK PR

Among many of the reasons individuals travel to foreign countries include the ability to become permanent residents of the country. Becoming a permanent resident brings its own range of perks and benefits, such as the opportunity to stay back in the country for a long duration without having to worry about visa validity periods, etc. Similarly, the UK also offers international students and foreign migrant workers the opportunity to become permanent residents of the country.

It should be noted that permanent residence (PR) is not the same as citizenship, however, it brings foreign nationals one step closer to citizenship of a country. In the UK, PR is referred to as an “indefinite leave to remain” or “settlement”. Regardless to say, applying for UK PR will be based on the circumstances and situation of the candidate applying.

Here are some of the different elements that will qualify candidates for a UK PR.

  • Working in the UK: Those who have worked and lived in the UK for a period of 5 years. Those with a Tier 1 visa may only be required to have worked and lived in the UK for 2-3 years, while those with an Innovator or Global Talent visa may only be required to work and lived for 3 years.

    • There are different methods of applying for PR in UK, which will be dependent on the type of visa a candidate holds.

    • There will be salary or financial expectations that should be met as per the visa the candidate holds.

  • Family in the UK: Candidates with a family member, i.e. a partner, parent, child or any other relative living in the UK, either as a British citizen or a person with indefinite leave to remain, can also apply.

    • The application process will be dependent on the type of visa a candidate holds and the type of settlement the family member holds.

  • Living in the UK for Over 10 Years: Candidates who have lived in the UK for 10 or more will be able to apply for PR in UK.

There are several other ways that foreign nationals can use to become permanent residents in UK, provided they meet the criteria set by the federal government. It should be noted that to become UK citizens, candidates will have to receive their “indefinite leave to remain” or UK PR to apply for the same.

Graduate Route Visa

Launched in July 2021, the Graduate Route is a pathway created by the UK government that allows international students to stay back in the country and take up full-time jobs after they have completed their studies. Here’s what you need to know about the route:

Graduate Route Eligibility

Candidates will find themselves eligible if they:

  • Are in the UK;

  • Have a valid Student Visa or a Tier 4 (General) student visa

  • Have completed their bachelor’s, postgraduate or any other eligible degree on a Student Visa or Tier 4 visa.

  • Have had their UK education provider (university/college) tell the Home Office that the candidate in question has successfully completed their studies with them.

Note: Applicants must check if the course they are pursuing in the UK is considered eligible for the Graduate Route.

Graduate Route Application Process

To apply for the Graduate Route, candidates must follow the aforementioned steps for the same.

  • Candidates must prove their identity by providing the necessary documentation.

  • They must then apply for the Graduate Route online via the official website, which they can do so by login into their account using the link they received in their sign-up email.

  • Applicants will be able to save their application form and complete it at a later date.

Some of the documents that need to be submitted at the time of application include

  • A valid passport or any other accepted travel document that proves the identity as well as the nationality of the applicant.

  • The biometric residence permit (BRP) that had been issued at the time of application of the applicant’s Student Visa or Tier 4 Visa.

  • The Certificate of Acceptance of Studies (CAS) reference number that had been issued at the time of application of the Student Visa or Tier 4 Visa.

Graduate Route Post Application Process

After successfully applying for the Graduate Route, some of the things that candidates should keep in mind include:

  • The waiting period to receive a response usually takes around 8 weeks. However, it can take longer for different reasons, which include:

    • Verification of the supporting documents

    • Candidate’s personal circumstances.

  • Candidates will be able to cancel their Graduate Route application. However, a refund will only be initiated if the UKVI was yet to start the application processing.

Graduate Route Application Fee

Inevitably, all candidates applying for the route will be asked to pay the Graduate Route application fee which has been outlined in the table below.

Application Category

Fee (in GBP)

Application Fee

715

Healthcare Surcharge

624/year

Similar to the healthcare surcharge that had to be paid by the candidates when they were completing their studies, Graduate Route applicants will also be required to pay the healthcare surcharge every year.

FAQs on UK Student Visa Guide in 2023

What can I do and not do under a UK Student Visa?

If you are studying in the UK under a UK Student Visa, you are allowed to work as a student union sabbatical officer, study, work - depending on the course as well as when they are working. However, students under a UK student visa cannot claim public funds and/or pensions, be self-employed or study at a local authority-funded/maintained school or academy.

What courses warrant a UK Student Visa?

A full-time course leading to a below degree-level qualification with a minimum of 15 hours of day-time study, a full-time course leading to a degree-level or above qualification, a full-time degree-level or above course equivalent to a UK higher education course being delivered as part of a longer course abroad, a part-time course leading to above degree-level qualification, etc are some of the courses that warrant an application for a UK Student Visa.

What documents should be submitted for a UK Student Visa?

The documents needed for a UK Student Visa include a passport or valid travel document, a CAS or confirmation of acceptance for students from a UK university, proof of financial capability, details about the intended place of accommodation, tuberculosis test report, valid ATAS certificate (if applicable), proof of consent and type of relationship with parent/guardian (if applicable) and consent for application from sponsor (if applicable).

How do I apply for a UK Student Visa?

To apply for a UK student visa, aspirants must first ensure they meet the eligibility criteria for the same, keep all the relevant required documents at hand and commence applying for the visa via online or offline modes. Candidates can visit the official website for a UK visa, find the student visa application form, fill it and either send it online or submit the hardcopy of the same at the appropriate visa centre, subsequently paying the appropriate fee as well.

What is the cost of applying for a UK Student Visa?

For all international students applying for the visa from outside the country, the application fee for a UK Student Visa is GBP 348.

Can I extend my stay on a UK Visa?

Yes, those with a valid UK visa can extend their stay, provided they are eligible for it, for example, if they are continuing their higher studies in the UK or are transferring to the UK Student Route if they have already have been living in the UK.

How long is a UK Student Visa valid for?

If you have received your UK Student Visa and are pursuing a degree-level course then your visa permission will be valid for 5 years.

When should I start applying for a UK Student Visa?

If you are planning to study in the UK, then it is recommended that you begin applying for the visa at least six months before the start date of your course.

What is the eligibility criteria for a UK Student Visa?

To apply for the UK student route (student visa), applicants must first ensure they have been offered admission to a course offered by a licensed student sponsor, provide proof of finances to support themselves and cover the tuition costs, provide proof of English language proficiency, and if of the age of 16 or 17, provide consent from parents.

What visa should I apply for if I want to study in the UK?

In most cases, as an international student, you will be required to apply for a Student Visa, previously known as Tier 4 visa, if you are 16 and above and wish to study in the UK. However, If your programme of study is only 6 Months long or are pursuing an English language course of 11 months, then you will be required to apply for the Short-Term Student Route.

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