Congratulations! After a lot of hard work, you were admitted at a university in the United Kingdom. But before you can start packing your bags, you have to make sure you have the proper paperwork ready.
The amount of information may be overwhelming at first, but with a little organisation, you'll go through the entire process in no time. The following article is meant to offer you a complete guide to make your visa application process for the UK as easy and less stressful as possible.
1. Apply to a UK university and get your acceptance letter
If you’re still not sure where you want to study in the UK, you will have to decide before you can start your student visa application process. After being accepted at a university, you’ll get an acceptance letter required for the visa application.
Here are some UK universities we recommend:
- University of East London
- Northumbria University
- Oxford Brookes University
- University of Surrey
- University of East Anglia
The following are some of the most popular academic disciplines in the United Kingdom:
- MBA degrees in the UK
- Masters in International Relations in the UK
- Masters in Psychology in the UK
- Masters in Electrical Engineering in the UK
- Masters in Education in the UK
2. Find out if you need a visa to study in the UK
Brexit has created a lot of confusion, especially among international students who want to study or are already studying a degree in the UK. But we'll do our best to clarify the changes and who needs a visa to study in the United Kingdom:
EU/EEA and Swiss students
- If you arrive in the UK before 31 December 2020, you don't need a visa.
- If you arrive in the UK on or after 1 January 2021, you might need a visa.
- If you start studying before 31 December 2020 and want to continue studying after 1 January 2021, you will need to apply for a settlement scheme before 30 June 2021.
- Citizens from Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein might benefit from the same rules, but they should always check what visa regulations apply to them.
Depending on the length of their studies, non-EU/EEA students need to apply either for a Short-Term Study Visa or a General Student Visa (also called Tier 4 Student Visa).
To find out if you need a visa in the UK, the easiest way is to use the online tool on the UK Government website.
3. Find out what type of visa you need to study in the UK
These are the 2 types of visas for which you might need to apply to become a UK student:
- Short-Term Study Visa (available for 6 or 11 months) – for students who plan to study a short language course or take up a short period of research as part of a degree programme.
- Tier 4 (General) Student Visa – for students who enrol in an academic degree (Bachelor's, Master's, or PhD course). The Tier 4 Student Visa doesn't have a fixed period of availability; the length of your studies determines the length of this visa.
4. When and where to apply for the student visa in the UK?
There are two options for getting your student visa in the UK. You can apply for a student visa at the UK embassy in your country or you can do it online, on the official UK Government website.
Depending on your nationality, you might need to have your fingerprints and photograph taken at a visa application centre (to get a biometric residence permit) as part of your application.
Tips about my visa application
- Keep in mind that as 1 January 2021 approaches, the visa application process might change. To view the latest up-to-date information, always visit the official UK Government website.
- Do not leave your visa application until the last moment. Usually, it takes about 3 weeks to receive the Tier 4 Student Visa. But depending on the place you are applying from, you should start the visa application process 3 months in advance.
- Make sure you have the certificate of acceptance for studies (CAS) from your university before applying for the student visa.
- Make sure you get all the information before you start the application process.
- Make sure the institution you are applying to is licensed.
- Universities usually have trained visa advisors able to answer your questions about the Tier 4 student visa and guide you through the application process.
5. Conditions you need to meet to receive a Tier 4 visa
- Be over 16 years old
- Speak, read, and understand English
- Have sufficient money to support yourself during studies
- Have an unconditional offer of study from a licensed university in the UK
Language requirements for studying in the UK
To prove that your knowledge of spoken and written English meet British visa requirements, you will need to pass a secure English language test (SELT). You must meet the CEFR level B2 of language proficiency if you’re studying at a degree level or higher.
Exception: for students coming from certain countries, proof of English proficiency may not be required if they’ve completed a qualification equivalent to a UK degree.
6. Documents required for a UK student visa
- Completed visa application form
- Passport or valid travel documentation
- One passport-sized photograph
- Proof that you can support yourself during your stay in the UK: 1,265 GBP/month if you live in London and 1,015 GBP/month for the rest of the UK
- Parental consent, if you're under 18 years old
- Tuberculosis test results (for citizens of certain countries)
- Proof of paying the visa application fee: 348 GBP
- Immigration Health Surcharge: 150 GBP per year of study
- Self-assessment form Appendix 8 with attached documents. (not required if you apply online)
- Other requirements that may vary depending on your country of origin
Any documents that have to be submitted in support of the Appendix 8 form, which are not in English or Welsh, must be accompanied by an official full translation that can be independently verified by the UK Border Agency.