Planning to study in the UK? Our comprehensive guide covers all you need to know about the UK student visa, including the latest requirements, application process, and tips for success. Get familiar with the points-based system, non-points requirements, and other essential information to ensure a smooth application and a successful visa outcome.
1. UK Student Visa Requirements New Rules 2021
To obtain a UK student visa, applicants must secure 50 points for Study (CAS, Course, Approved Qualification, Level of Study, Place of Study), 10 points for the financial requirement, and 10 points for the English language requirement. Additionally, applicants must also satisfy non-points validity, eligibility, and suitability requirements such as tuberculosis testing, genuine student rules, and academic progress.
2. Appendix Student
Under Appendix Student, a foreign person needs to meet the validity, suitability, and eligibility requirements to obtain a student visa to study in the UK.
a. Validity Requirements for Student Visa UK
The Paragraphs ST 1.1. to ST 1.5 of Appendix Student outline the minimum criteria an applicant must fulfill for further consideration. For instance, the applicant must use the correct form and supply their identity documents. Applications that do not meet validity requirements are rejected as invalid.
b. Suitability Requirements for Student Visa UK
The Paragraphs ST 2.1. to ST 2.2 of Appendix Student relate to the suitability of the applicant to be granted any form of permission, not specifically whether they qualify as a student. Applicants must not fall for refusal on general grounds or be in breach of immigration laws. Applications that do not meet these requirements are refused.
c. Eligibility Requirements for Student Visa UK
The Paragraphs ST 3.1 to ST 23.1 of Appendix Student relate to the specific eligibility criteria. Applications that do not meet these requirements are refused. Please note that several UK student visa eligibility requirements are not applicable to all entry clearance and leave to remain applications. Therefore, this post only highlights those UK student visa eligibility requirements that are common for all types of applications.
3. Other Study Routes
A person who wants to study a course for six months or less without a student sponsor but with an accredited provider should apply under Appendix V: Visitor. A person aged 16 or over who wants to study an English Language course of 11 months or less without a student sponsor but with an accredited provider should apply under Appendix Short-term Student (English Language).
4. Points-Based System for UK Student Visa
The points-based system for the UK Student Visa comprises three components: study points, financial requirement, and English language requirement.
a. Study Points (50 points)
To qualify for a UK student visa, applicants must accumulate 50 points in the following categories:
i. Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS)
Applicants must have a valid CAS from a licensed sponsor.
The course must be full-time, part-time, or a combination of both, with a minimum of 15 hours per week of organized daytime study.
iii. Approved Qualification
The qualification must be approved by a UK recognized body or one that is approved for immigration purposes.
iv. Level of Study
The course must be at an appropriate level, as defined by the UK National Qualifications Framework.
v. Place of Study
The place of study must be a licensed sponsor in the UK.
b. Financial Requirement (10 points)
Applicants must prove that they have enough funds to cover their course fees and living costs for the duration of their studies in the UK. The exact amount required depends on the location of the educational institution and the length of the course.
For Residential Independent School applicants, they need to have sufficient funds to pay outstanding fees (course fees and boarding fees) for one academic year. In all other cases, applicants must have sufficient funds to pay any outstanding course fees as stated on the CAS, and £1,334 (if studying in London) or £1,023 (if studying outside London) for each month of the course (up to a maximum of 9 months).
The applicant must show that they have held the required level of funds for a consecutive 28-day period, unless they are relying on a student loan, an award from a government or international sponsorship agency, or receiving a portion of the funds or other financial sponsorship from their student sponsor (as a bursary, for example). The 28-day period must end no more than 31 days before the application date.
c. English Language Requirement (10 points)
Applicants must demonstrate their English language proficiency by meeting a minimum standard in an approved English language test or by having a degree that was taught or researched in English. The required level of English language proficiency varies depending on the course and institution.
For a course below degree level, the UK student visa applicant needs to have the equivalent of level B1 of the Common European Framework of References (CEFR) to meet the English language requirement.
For a degree-level course, the UK student visa applicant needs to have the equivalent of level B2 of the Common European Framework of References (CEFR) to meet the English language requirement.
Applicants on a combined pre-sessional course need to demonstrate level B1 English if they have not been given an unconditional offer of study on the main course of study at degree level or above, and their sponsor has not assessed them as already having level B2 English.
5. Non-Points Based Requirements
In addition to the points-based requirements, applicants must also satisfy several non-points based requirements to be eligible for a UK student visa. These include tuberculosis testing, genuine student rules, and academic progress.
a. Tuberculosis Testing
Applicants from certain countries are required to undergo tuberculosis (TB) testing as part of their UK student visa application process. The test must be conducted at a clinic approved by the UK Home Office. If the test result is positive, the applicant will need to undergo treatment before being eligible to apply for a visa. A list of countries requiring TB testing can be found on the UK government website.
b. Genuine Student Rules
Applicants must prove that they are genuine students by demonstrating their intention to study, complete the course, and leave the UK upon completion of their studies. The decision-maker may consider various factors, such as the applicant’s immigration history, previous study, and post-study plans, when assessing the genuineness of the applicant’s intention to study in the UK.
c. Academic Progress
Applicants must demonstrate satisfactory academic progress in their chosen course. This means that they should be progressing through their studies at an appropriate rate, without unnecessary delays or multiple course changes. Applicants who fail to demonstrate academic progress may have their visa applications refused or their existing visas curtailed.
6. Application Process for UK Student Visa
Applying for a UK student visa involves several steps, including gathering the required documents, paying the visa application fees, and waiting for the application processing. Below is an overview of these steps.
a. Documents Required
Applicants must provide various documents to support their UK student visa application. These typically include:
- Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) from the sponsoring institution
- Proof of financial means to cover tuition fees and living expenses
- Evidence of English language proficiency, such as IELTS or TOEFL scores
- Valid passport with at least one blank page for the visa
- Two passport-sized color photographs
- Tuberculosis test results, if applicable
- Academic transcripts and certificates
- Any additional documents required by the UK Home Office
b. Visa Application Fees
The visa application fees for a UK student visa depend on the type of application and where the application is submitted. In 2023, the fees are as follows:
- £363 for applications made outside the UK
- £490 for applications made within the UK (standard service)
- £990 for applications made within the UK (priority service)
- £1,290 for applications made within the UK (super-priority service)
Please note that fees may change over time, so it is essential to check the latest information on the UK government website.
Applicants need to pay the relevant application fees and any Immigration Health Charge (aka Immigration Health Surcharge or IHS) for each year of their stay, usually @ £624 per year. Once the visa is granted, students need to pay £19.20 for biometrics information (fingerprints and a photo) in the UK.
c. Processing Time
The processing time for UK student visa applications varies depending on the applicant’s country of residence, the complexity of the application, and the volume of applications being processed. Generally, the standard processing time is 3-4 weeks for applications made outside the UK and 8-12 weeks for applications made within the UK. Priority and super-priority services are available at additional fees for faster processing times.
7. UK Student Visa Refusal and Appeal Process
In case of a UK student visa refusal, applicants have the option to challenge the decision through an administrative review or reapply with a new application.
a. Administrative Review
An administrative review is a process where a different caseworker reviews the initial decision to refuse the visa. Applicants must submit their request for an administrative review within 28 days of receiving the refusal decision. The review process may take up to 28 days, and the outcome could either uphold the initial refusal or grant the visa.
b. Reapplying for a UK Student Visa
If the administrative review upholds the refusal, or the applicant chooses not to request a review, they can reapply for a UK student visa. In this case, it is crucial to address the reasons for the initial refusal and submit a new application with additional supporting documents, if necessary.
8. Tips for a Successful UK Student Visa Application
Here are some tips to increase your chances of a successful UK student visa application:
- Ensure your CAS is accurate and up-to-date
- Provide clear and concise evidence of your financial means
- Submit valid English language test results
- Double-check all the required documents for completeness and accuracy
- Apply well in advance of your course start date
- Seek professional advice if you have a complex immigration history or other issues that may impact your application
9. Frequently Asked Questions
UK Student Visa Requirements: Key Points
Below are some frequently asked questions regarding the UK student visa process:
1. Work Permission While Studying
Can I work while studying on a UK student visa?
Yes, you can work while studying on a UK student visa, but there are restrictions on the number of hours you can work per week. The specific restrictions depend on your course level and sponsor. Degree level students can work 20 hours per week during term-time, while those studying below degree level can work 10 hours per week during term-time. Both groups can work full-time during semester breaks and before the start of the course.
2. Bringing Family Members to the UK
Can I bring my family members with me to the UK?
Some UK student visa holders may bring dependents, such as a spouse or partner and children under 18 years old. You will need to prove that you have adequate financial means to support your dependents in addition to your own living expenses and tuition fees.
3. Staying in the UK After Completing Studies
Can I stay in the UK after completing my studies?
UK student visa holders may be eligible to switch to a different visa category, such as a work visa, after completing their studies. The Graduate Immigration Route allows international students who have completed an eligible UK degree to stay in the UK and work or look for work for up to two years (or three years for PhD students).
4. UK Student Visa Application Timeline
When can I apply for a UK student visa?
You can make an application for entry clearance no more than 6 months before the start date of the course stated on the Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS). A leave to remain application under the student route should be made no more than 3 months before the start date of the course on the CAS. Moreover, an application for permission to stay should be for study on a course with a start date no more than 28 days after the expiry date of the applicant’s previous permission.
5. IELTS Requirements for UK Student Visa
What are the IELTS requirements for the UK Student Visa?
For courses below degree level, applicants need a CEFR level B1 in English (equivalent to an IELTS band score of 4.0-5.0) to score 10 points for English Language. For degree level courses, applicants need a CEFR level B2 in English (equivalent to an IELTS band score of 5.5-6.5) to score 10 points for English Language.
6. Financial Requirements for UK Study Visa
How much bank statement is required for a UK Study Visa?
International students typically need a minimum of £20,000- £25,000 (or equivalent) in their bank statement to cover any unpaid tuition fees and living costs while studying in the UK.
7. UK Student Visa Processing Time
What is the UK Student Visa waiting time?
The UK Student Visa processing time after biometrics is typically within 3 weeks or 15 working days for 90-95% of applicants. Applicants can fast-track their application by purchasing the priority (£220) or super priority (£956) visa service.
8. UK Student Visa Success and Refusal Rates
What is the UK Student Visa success and refusal rate?
Between 2020 Q4 and 2021 Q2, the UK Student visa success rate was 94.81%, and the refusal rate was 4.96%.
9. Visa Requirements for EEA Nationals Post-Brexit
Do EEA Nationals require a Student Visa to study in the UK?
Since January 1, 2021, EEA and Swiss nationals (excluding Irish) require a visa to study in the UK due to changes in immigration rules.
10. Switching from Visitor Visa to Student Visa in the UK
Can I switch from a visitor visa to a student visa in the UK?
From inside the UK, a person cannot apply to switch to a study visa if they have, or were last granted, permission as a Visitor, Short-Term Student, Parent of a Child Student, Seasonal Worker, Domestic Worker in a Private Household, or outside the Immigration Rules.
11. Minimum Age for UK Study Visa
What is the minimum age for a study visa under Appendix Student?
The minimum age requirements for UK study visa (Tier 4) applicants are 16 or over on the date of application. Therefore, if the applicant is too young, then the application gets rejected. A person who is aged 16 or 17 and wants to study with a sponsor that is an Independent School on a course at Regulated Qualifications Framework 3 or Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework 6 and above can apply as a student or Child Student under Appendix Child Student.