How to Get Visa to Study in UK? Student Visa UK Requirements 2021

This guidance relates to UK Student Visa New Rules and Requirements in 2021. The new student visa has replaced the Tier 4 (General) Student as of October 5, 2020. Accordingly, the student route is for a person aged 16 or over who wants to study with a sponsor on a course of further or higher education, a pre-sessional English course, a recognised foundation programme or to take an elected post as a Student Union Sabbatical Officer. Please note, from January 1, 2021, changes in the immigration rules mean that EEA and Swiss (excluding Irish) nationals require a visa to study in the UK.

1. Overview 2. Validity 3. Suitability 4. Eligibility 5. Supporting Documents 6. Processing Time 7. Sucess Rate

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1. Overview

UK Student Visa Requirements and New Rules 2021

In terms of Appendix Student, a foreign person needs to meet the validity, suitability, and eligibility requirements to get student visa to study in the UK.

  • Validity Requirements for Student Visa UK: The Paragraphs ST 1.1. to ST 1.5 of Appendix Student outline the minimum criteria which an applicant needs to fulfill for the further considerations. For instance, the applicant has used the correct form and supplied their identity documents. Applications which do not meet validity requirements are rejected as invalid.
  • Suitability Requirements for Student Visa UK: The Paragraphs ST 2.1. to ST 2.2 of Appendix Student relates 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 which do not meet these requirements are refused.
  • Eligibility Requirements for Student Visa UK: The Paragraphs ST 3.1 to ST 23.1 of Appendix Student relates to the specific eligibility criteria. Applications which do not meet these requirements are refused. Please note, several UK student visa eligibility requirements are not applicable for all entry clearance and leave to remain applications. Therefore, this post only highlights those UK student visa eligibility requirements, which are common for all types of applications.

This route is for a person aged 16 or over who wants to study with a sponsor on a course of further or higher education, a pre-sessional English course, a recognised foundation programme or to take an elected post as a Student Union Sabbatical Officer.

Immigration Rules Appendix Student

Short Term Study Visa

A person who wants to study a course for 6 months or less without a student sponsor but with an accredited provider should apply under Appendix V: Visitor.

English Language Course

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).

For details, please refer to UK Short Term Study Visa RulesStandard Visitor Visa UK, and UK Visa Cancellation under Appendix V for Visitors.

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UK Student Visa Requirements 2021

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    2. Validity

    UK Student Visa Requirements and New Rules 2021

    Before considering suitability and eligibility requirements, the Immigration Officer/Home Office check the validity of the application under the paragraphs ST 1.1. to ST 1.5 of Appendix Student, which relate to:

    1. Application Form
    2. Application Fees and Immigration Health Charge
    3. Biometrics and Identity Documents
    4. Confirmation of Acceptance of Studies
    5. Government or International Scholarship Agency Awards
    6. Switching
    7. Minimum Age of the Applicant

    2.1 Application Form

    A person applying for entry clearance or permission to stay, as a student, needs to apply on the specified form on the gov.uk website as follows:

    • EEA National with a Chipped Passport: can apply student visa by using the UK Immigration: ID Check App or the forms listed below. Please note, most of the EEA nationals apply for student visa by using the UK Immigration: ID Check App.
    • Applicants outside the UK: Student Visa
    • Applicants inside the UK: Student

    2.2 Application Fees and Immigration Health Charge

    The UK Student visa 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. The student visa cost 2021 from outside the UK is £348. The Home Office fees 2021 for student visa extension and switching application from inside the UK is £475. Once the visa is granted then students need to pay £19.20 for biometrics information (fingerprints and a photo) in the UK.

    2.3 Biometrics and Identity Documents

    At the time of application, Student Visa applicants need to provide their biometrics. These biometrics details are verified against a valid passport or other travel document of the applicants

    2.4 Confirmation of Acceptance of Studies (CAS)

    UK Student Visa applicants need to have a Confirmation of Acceptance of Studies (CAS). The assigned CAS should not be more than 6 months before the date of application.

    2.5 Government or International Scholarship Agency Awards

    If in the last 12 months before the date of student visa application, the applicant has completed a course of studies in the UK for which they have been awarded a scholarship or sponsorship by a government or international scholarship agency covering both fees and living costs for study in the UK, then they need to provide written consent in relation to the student visa application from that Government or agency.

    2.6 Switching

    An applicant who is in the UK cannot apply to switch into the Student route 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.

    2.7 Minimum Age

    The minimum age for UK Student visa applicants is 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 either a student or as a Child Student under Appendix Child Student.

    ST 1.6. An application which does not meet all the validity requirements for a Student is invalid and may be rejected and not considered.

    Immigration Rules Appendix Student

    3. Suitability

    UK Student Visa Requirements and New Rules 2021

    For entry clearance or permission to stay as a student in the UK an applicant needs to meet the suitability requirements under Paragraphs ST 2.1 and ST 2.2 of Appendix Student. Therefore, in terms of paragraph ST 2.1 the student visa applicant must not fall for refusal under Part 9: grounds for refusal. Moreover, as per paragraph ST 2.2 an applicant applying for permission to stay must not be:

    • in breach of immigration laws, except that where paragraph 39E applies, that period of overstaying will be disregarded; or
    • on immigration bail

    4. Eligibility

    UK Student Visa Requirements and New Rules 2021

    To be eligible, student visa applicants need to secure 50 points for Study (Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies, Course, Approved Qualification, Level of Study, Place of Study), 10 points for financial requirement, and 10 points for English Language. Moreover, applicants also need to satisfy non-points requirements relating to tuberculosis testing, genuine student rules, academic progress etc.

    Accordingly, in terms of Appendix Student, new eligibility rules and requirements for UK Student Visa in 2021 relates to:

    1. Entry Requirement
    2. Tuberculosis Certificate
    3. Date of Application
    4. Genuine Student
    5. Points Requirement (Overview)
    6. Confirmation of Acceptance of Studies (CAS)
    7. Course
    8. Approved Qualification
    9. Level of Study
    10. Place of Study
    11. Financial Requirement
    12. English Language

    4.1 Entry Clearance

    A person seeking to come to the UK as a student need to apply for and obtain entry clearance under Appendix Student before they arrive in the UK.

    4.2 Tuberculosis Certificates

    Student visa applicant needs to provide a valid TB certificate with their application if they have been residing within a country listed in Appendix T of the Immigration Rules for more than 6 months immediately preceding the application. If an applicant fails to provide a valid TB test certificate, then the application is refused under paragraph ST 3.2 of Appendix Student.

    4.3 Date of Application

    An application for entry clearance under Appendix Student needs to be made 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.

    4.4 Genuine Student

    For an applicant to qualify as a student, they need to satisfy on the balance of probability that they are a genuine student. To assess an applicant’s credibility, the Immigration Officer considers the information provided in the application. Moreover, if applicable, then may invite the applicant for a credibility interview. However, for refusing a student visa application on credibility grounds, the Immigration Officer needs to clearly set out their allegations, reasoning and argument that form the basis for their decision.

    The English language ability of an applicant can be used as a relevant factor in assessing credibility, however, the Immigration Officer may consider other factors such as:

    • The immigration history of the applicant and any dependant, in the UK and other countries
    • The applicant’s education history, study, and post-study plans
    • The personal and financial circumstances of the applicant and any dependant
    • The qualification, course provider and agents
    • English language ability
    • The employment, education, or health care benefits for any accompanying dependants
    • Pull factors that have influenced students’ choice of the UK as a study destination
    • Due to Covid-19 several students commenced a course remotely from overseas during 2020/21. Therefore, for such applicants, the Immigration Officer considers the engagement with the course and progress

    For further details, please refer to Is there any Interview for UK Student Visa?

    4.5 Points

    A UK student visa applicant needs to score seventy (70) points against the following requirements:

    Points typeRelevant requirements to be metNumber of points
    Study (must meet all)• Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies requirement
    • Course requirement
    • Approved qualification requirement
    • Level of study requirement
    • Place of study requirement
    50
    Financial• Financial requirement10
    English language• English language requirement10

    4.6 Confirmation of Acceptance of Studies (CAS)

    For scoring 50 points for study, a UK student visa applicant needs to have a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) issued by a student sponsor whose licence is still valid on the date on which the application is decided.

    Please note, mandatory information shown on the CAS is used to determine whether a student meets the requirements of the student route. It also determines an applicant’s work rights and ability to bring dependants to the UK.

    4.7 Course

    For scoring 50 points for study, a student visa applicant usually needs to study a full-time degree (or below degree) level course that leads to an approved qualification. However, there are certain concessions for Pre-Sessional Course, Student Union Sabbatical Officer, a Part-Time course offered by higher education provider with a track record of compliance. A person can also apply for Association of Certified Chartered Accountants (ACCA) under Appendix Student.

    Please note, if the Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) requirement in Appendix ATAS applies, then the applicant needs to provide a valid ATAS certificate with the application.

    4.8 Approved Qualification

    For scoring 50 points for study, the course of study should lead to an approved qualifications as elucidated in paragraph ST 9.1 of Appendix Student:

    ST 9.1. The course of study, unless it is a pre-sessional course, must lead to an approved qualification which is one of the following:

    (a) validated by Royal Charter; or

    (b) awarded by a UK recognised body; or

    (c) covered by a legal agreement between a UK recognised body and another education provider or awarding body, which confirms both:

    (i) the UK recognised body’s independent assessment of the level of the student sponsor’s or awarding body’s programme compared to the Regulated Qualifications Framework or its equivalents; and

    (ii) that the UK recognised body would admit any student who successfully completes the education provider’s or the awarding body’s named course onto a specific or a range of degree-level courses it provides; or

    (d) recognised by one or more recognised bodies through a formal articulation agreement with the awarding body; or

    (e) in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, is at Regulated Qualifications Framework level 3 or above; or in Scotland is accredited at Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework level 6 or above; or

    (f) an overseas qualification that Ecctis assesses as valid and equivalent to Regulated Qualifications Framework level 3 or above; or

    (g) an aviation licence, rating or certificate issued by the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority.

    Immigration Rules Appendix Student

    4.9 Level of Study

    For scoring 50 points for study, the course of study should meet the Acceptable Levels of Study. If a Student Sponsor assigns the CAS, then except for a pre-sessional course, the course needs to meet one of the following Acceptable Levels of Study requirements:

    • full-time courses at level 3 or above on the Regulated Qualifications Framework (RQF) in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland
    • part-time courses at level 7 or above on the RQF in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland
    • full-time courses at level 6 or above on the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF)
    • part-time courses at level 11 or above on the SCQF
    • a short-term study abroad programme in the UK as part of the applicant’s qualification at an overseas higher education institution (HEI), so long as the qualification is confirmed as being of equivalent level to a UK degree by Ecctis (formerly UK NARIC)
    • an English language course at level B2 or above of the Common European Framework of reference for languages (CEFR)
    • a recognised foundation programme for postgraduate doctors or dentists
    • an aviation licence, rating or certificate issued by the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority

    Please note, Probationary Sponsor cannot offer part-time course.

    4.10 Place of Study

    For scoring 50 points for study, the course of study must take place on the premises of the student sponsor or a partner institution unless the applicant is on a course-related work placement, a study abroad programme overseas, or a pre-sessional course.

    4.11 Financial Requirement – 10 Points

    To score 10 points for meeting the financial requirement, the UK student visa applicant needs to show that they have sufficient funds to pay outstanding course fees for the first academic year and can demonstrate funds to cover their living costs for up to 9 months.

    Accordingly, for Residential Independent School, a UK student visa applicant needs to have sufficient funds to pay outstanding fees (course fees and boarding fees) for one academic year. However, for all other cases, UK student visa applicant need to have sufficient funds to pay any outstanding course fees as stated on the CAS, and £1,334 (if they are Studying in London) or £1,023 (if they are 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 where they are receiving some 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.

    Exemptions

    The following applicants will automatically meet the financial requirement and be awarded 10 points, if they are applying for permission:

    • to stay in the UK, having been in the UK for at least 12 months with valid permission on the date of application
    • as a Student Union Sabbatical Officer
    • to study on a recognised foundation programme as a postgraduate doctor or dentist in training

    Differentiation Arrangements

    If an applicant qualifies under the differentiation arrangements, then they are not, usually required to provide evidence they meet the financial requirements. However, applicants should still hold the required level of funds as UKVI reserve the right to request evidence of funds from these applicants.

    4.12 English Language – 10 Points

    To score 10 points for English language, applicants on the student route need to meet a required level of English language ability depending on the level of their course. Accordingly, information in the CAS indicates the required level of English and what assessment was carried out or what evidence has been used to demonstrate that the applicant meets the requirement.

    Below Degree Level Course

    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.

    Degree Level Course

    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.

    Combined Pre-Sessional Course

    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.

    UK Student Visa Requirements 2021

    5. Supporting Documents

    UK Student Visa Requirements and New Rules 2021

    To meet the UK Student visa requirements an applicant needs to furnish the following supporting documents with the application:

    1. Print out of the UK Student Visa Online Application Form
    2. a current passport (or other valid travel identification) that shows applicant’s identity and nationality with a blank page on both sides for affixation of the visa vignette
    3. certified translation of any documents that are not in English or Welsh
    4. a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) from the course provider
    5. proof of meeting the financial requirements (money for maintenance in the UK and paying the course fees) such as bank statements
    6. written consent for application from financial sponsor if the applicant received sponsorship for course fees and living costs in the last 12 months
    7. proof of meeting the English Language requirement such as UKVI IELTS Test result, academic degree with ECCTIS (previously UKNARIC) certificate
    8. Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS)
    9. tuberculosis test results, if applicable
    10. proof of parental or other legal guardian consent if the applicant is under 18 years of age
    11. proof of relationship to parent or guardian if the applicant is under 18 years of age
    12. a valid ATAS certificate – if the course and nationality require it

    Please note, this is not an exhaustive list as the required supporting documents for UK student visa application depends on the circumstances of the applicant.

    6. Processing Time

    UK Student Visa Requirements and New Rules 2021

    The service standard for UK Student Visa Processing Time after Biometrics in 2021 is to decide 90%, 98% and 100% of the applications within 15, 30 and 60 working days, respectively. Accordingly, the UK student visa processing time is usually within 3 weeks or 15 working days for 90-95% of the applicants. Moreover, applicants can fast track UK student visa processing time within five working days (or 24-hours) by purchasing the £220 priority visa service (or £956 super priority visa).

    The service standard for UK student visa extension processing time after biometrics is 8 weeks for renewal applications. Moreover, applicants can fast track UK student visa processing time for extension (renewal) applications within 5 working days or 24 hours by purchasing the £500 or £800 priority or super-priority service, respectively.

    Please note, purchasing the priority or super-priority service for fast-tracking UK student visa processing time does not influence the decision. In fact, these premium services are only for fast tracking UK student visa processing time of straightforward applications.

    7. Success Rate

    UK Student Visa Success and Refusal Rate 2021

    According to the latest immigration statistics, from 2020 Q4 to 2021 Q2, 117,799 UK Student Visa applications resolved, and 111,687 visas granted. Moreover, 5,845 applications rejected, 247 applications withdrawn, and 20 applications lapsed. Therefore, the UK Student visa success and refusal rate are 94.81% and 4.96%, respectively.

    Study Visa for EEA Nationals

    From the 1st of January 2021, changes in the immigration rules mean that EEA and Swiss (excluding Irish) nationals require a visa to study in the UK. In Q1 and Q2 2021, there were a total of 1,941 Sponsored study visa grants to EEA students, 2% of the total for this period. This is a more modest number compared to work visas, which saw 12,168 work visas granted to EEA nationals in the same period, 13% of the total for work. However, study visa applications fluctuate heavily with respect to the academic year, and in a normal year we would expect most grants in each year occurring in Q3 (July-September).

    German students were the EEA nationality with the highest number of Sponsored Study grants (500) in Q1 and Q2 2021, followed by Spain (354) and France (254). Together these three nationalities made up over half (57%) of all EEA grants in this period.

    Gov.UK

    UK Student Visa Success Rate 2021

    Year/ QuarterDecisionsIssuedRefusedWithdrawnLapsedSuccess Rate
    2020Q444,53143,335
    1,145
    51097.31%
    2021Q145,25741,8073,36578792.37%
    2021Q228,01126,5451,3351181394.76%
    Total117,799111,6875,845247
    2094.81%