The UK, the second-most popular study destination in the world, requires international students to have a visa to study there. They need to apply for a visa called the “study visa” and not any other visa. The UK study visa allows students to stay in the UK to pursue their studies at a degree level or below. Depending on the type of course, the duration of the study visa varies. They can stay up to 5 years in the UK if they have applied for a course at degree level. For courses below degree level, they can stay for up to 2 years. Students can apply for a student visa by visiting the GOV.UK website or by going to the nearest UK embassy in their home country. Confirmation of a spot at a licensed UK university is mandatory to be eligible to apply for a visa.
The UK study visa costs £363, and visa renewals are charged £490. Additionally, applicants are required to pay £470 per year as a healthcare surcharge to complete their visa application. The UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) is in charge of the visa applications, and the processing time is around 3 weeks. But some complex applications can take longer; hence, students must apply six months before the start of their course to avoid missing their visa.
Highlights of the UK Study Visa
|UK study visa application modes
|Online via the GOV.UK website or offline by visiting the UK embassy in their home country
|UK study visa processing time
|UK study visa fees
|Healthcare surcharge fees
|£470 per year
|UK study visa length
|5 years for courses at degree level and 2 years for courses below degree level
How to Apply for the UK Study Visa?
The applicant must have an unconditional offer of a spot on a course from a recognized student sponsor to apply for a UK study visa. Students can visit the GOV.UK website to confirm if their university is listed on the register of licensed sponsors in the UK. The spot confirmation can be proven with a reference number called Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS), sent by the university. CAS is mandatory to apply for a study visa in the UK. Applicant must apply for a visa within 6 months after receiving CAS. You can apply for the visa online by going to the GOV.UK website or offline by visiting a UK embassy visa application center in your home country. As a part of the visa application process, the applicants are required to prove their identity. The process depends on the type of passport they have and which country they belong to. They can use either of the following methods to prove their identity
- By providing biometric information (fingerprints and a photograph) at a visa application center
- Using the UK Immigration: ID Check application to scan identification documents and create a sign-in to UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) account
Only students who want to renew their study visa or change their visa to a student visa from another category are permitted to submit an application from within the UK. The earliest they can apply is 3 months before the start of their course. The remainder must apply for a UK student visa from outside the country.
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The student must be 16 or over years old to apply for a UK study visa. In addition to this, the applicant must
- Have been rendered admission to a course by a licensed UK university, aka study sponsor
- Must have enough financial support to pay the course fees and cover living expenses in the UK. You need money to pay for your course for 1 academic year (up to 9 months) as mentioned in your CAS document. To cover living expenses, you need £1,334 per month (for up to 9 months) for courses in London or £1,023 per month (for up to 9 months) for courses outside London
- Must be able to read, speak, understand, and write in English to a level equivalent to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) scale
- A blank page in the passport to give biometric information (fingerprints and a photograph) at a visa application center
Note: Applicants below 18 years of age are eligible to apply for a child student visa to study at an independent school in the UK. English proficiency for a degree-level education must be equivalent to CEFR level B2. Below degree level, proficiency equivalent to CEFR level B1 is enough. You do not need to provide English proficiency if you are a citizen of Canada or if you visiting the UK for a study abroad program as part of a university degree course in the USA.
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Courses You Can Study on a UK Study Visa
The UK study visa allows the applicant to study any one of the following courses at licensed UK universities
- A full-time course with at least 15 hours a week of organized daytime study leading to a qualification that’s below degree level (RQF level 3, 4, or 5)
- A full-time course leading to a qualification that’s degree level or above (RQF level 6, 7, or 8)
- A full-time course that is equivalent to a UK higher education course and is delivered as part of a longer course overseas at degree level or above (RQF level 6,7, or 8)
- A part-time course leading to a qualification that’s above degree level (RQF level 7 or above)
- An English language course at CEFR level B2 or above
- A recognized foundation program for postgraduate doctors or dentists
- A full-time elected position as a Student Union Sabbatical Officer
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Documents Needed for the UK Study Visa
To process your visa application, students are required to submit a list of documents. The following documents are binding as a part of the UK study visa for international students.
- A valid passport or any other valid travel document
- CAS certificate proving your spot in a course at a recognized student sponsor in the UK
- Funding proof to prove that you have enough funds to support yourself and pay your semester fees
- Written consent from your financial sponsor if you have received sponsorship or scholarship for your course and living costs
- Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) certificate to study certain courses in the UK (studying or researching sensitive topics at RQF level 7 or above)
- A parental or other legal guardian consent form if you are below 18 years of age
- Proof of relationship to your parent or legal guardian if you are not 18 years of age
- Tuberculosis test result if you are traveling from the listed countries or lived in the listed countries for the past 6 months or more
- A copy of your birth certificate or any other government-issued document with your parent’s name on it
- English language test certificate
In addition to the aforementioned documents, you might be asked to provide additional documentation depending on your application and circumstances.
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UK Study Visa, Processing Time, Fees, and Healthcare Surcharge
On average, it takes approximately 3 weeks to get a decision on your UK study visa application. If your application will take longer to process due to missing documents or any information, then you will be contacted by UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI). To change anything or to withdraw your application, you can contact the UKVI. If your application is successful, you will be given a
- A biometric residence permit (only if you have provided your biometric information)
- A digital immigration status that you can view and prove online via the UK Immigration: ID Check application
How long the student can stay in the country with a student visa depends on the duration of the course. The UK study visa allows students to stay in the UK for up to 5 years if they are over 18 years of age and have applied for a course at degree level. For below-degree-level courses, they can stay for up to 2 years. Students can even extend their study visas to stay longer, continue their courses, or study a new course.
It costs £363 to apply for a study visa in the UK and £490 to extend your study visa or switch to a student visa from inside the country. They can make the payment either through a debit or credit card. If you are in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, you need to pay in cash at the UK embassy. International students are also required to pay a healthcare surcharge as part of their visa application. If you are applying for the visa offline, then you need to pay the surcharge online before you send your application. The exact amount payable depends on the type and length of your visa. You need to pay £470 per year as a healthcare surcharge for a student visa. If your visa is for less than 6 months, then you do not need to pay the surcharge. In the event you fail to pay the surcharge, you will receive an email from UK Visas and Immigration. After which, you must make the payment within 7 working days if you are outside the UK and 10 working days if you are inside the UK.
With a study visa, students cannot claim public funds such as benefits or pensions, work in certain jobs like a professional sportsperson or sports coach, be self-employed, or study at a local authority or an academy-funded school, also known as a maintained school. The visa allows students to only study, work as a student union sabbatical officer, or work part-time.
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To conclude, international students are advised to start applying for a UK study visa at least six months prior to the start of their courses. To apply for a study visa, they can visit the GOV.UK website or go to the nearest UK embassy in their home country. They must be 16 or older to apply for a UK study visa, have confirmed admission to a course by a licensed UK university, have financial resources to fund themselves and their studies and be fluent in English. The visa lets them apply to a variety of programs in the UK, including degree- and below-degree-level courses. The UK study visa is valid for 5 years for degree-level courses and 2 years for below-degree-level courses. In certain circumstances, this visa can be extended, especially if they want to continue their studies or start a new course. Although the application process seems easy, it can get overwhelming for new applicants. Therefore, Gyanberry has come up with a platform called Gyanberry to assist students with their UK study visa applications. Additionally, you can use the platform to apply to multiple universities and courses at a time. To get in touch with us, click here.