UK universities are among the best in the world, making the country a preferred destination for international students. Here’s what you need to know if your goal is to ultimately naturalise as a British citizen.

How to get a UK Student visa

If you are studying abroad at a UK university or college, you will need a Student visa if you are over 18. This visa has replaced the Tier 4 (General) student visa.

To be eligible for a Student visa, you need to have:

1. Confirmation of acceptance for studies

You must have an unconditional offer of a place to study from an approved educational institution. Your education provider will send you a reference number and a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) once they have offered you a place on the course.

2. Proof of sufficient funds to pay for the course and to support yourself

You will need to demonstrate that you are able to pay for your course and your monthly living costs while you are in the UK. The amount you need to pay for your course will reflect on your CAS.

You will also need to show that you have the following:

  • £1,334 per month (for up to nine months) for living costs if you are doing most of your studies in London*
  • £1,023 per month (for up to nine months) for living costs if you are doing most of your studies outside London or elsewhere in the UK

*Any site located within the City of London and the Former Metropolitan Police District is considered part of London.

3. Proof of English language proficiency

You must prove that you can speak, read and understand English. To do this, you must pass a Secure English language Test (SELT). The level of English required depends on the level of your studies.

If you are pursuing a university degree or higher, you must have English language skills equivalent to level B2 of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) and submit your SELT from an approved provider.

4. Consent from your parents (if you’re under 18 years old)

Applicants must provide proof of parental consent if they’re under 18. If you are 16 or 17 years old and wish to study at an independent school in the UK, you may be eligible for a Child Student visa instead.

5. Other requirements

A surcharge for healthcare should also be paid with your application. This will give you access to the UK's National Health Service (NHS) throughout your stay.

If you live outside the UK, you can make your application six months before the course starts and expect a decision within three weeks. The length of your visa will depend on the nature of your studies. You may be able to extend your visa to continue your current course or start a new one in the UK, but you will need to be able to show that the course meets the academic progression requirements.

A visitor visa allows you to study at an accredited institution for up to six months or take ‘recreational courses' at any institution for up to 30 days.

See also: Study overseas: Everything you need to know about getting an international education

We are an established international study advisory with partner 94 institutions in the UK. Speak to an expert to discuss your study abroad options today

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UK Graduate visa

In July 2021, the UK government introduced a post-study work visa called the Graduate visa. This visa allows international students to stay in the UK for two to three years after successfully completing their studies.

  • Two years – if you have completed a bachelor's, postgraduate or master’s degree
  • Three years – if you have completed a PhD or other doctorate level degree in the UK

In this way, UK companies can retain the best international students to support the country's economy after graduation.

While on a Graduate visa, you can gain the necessary skills and experience to obtain a Skilled Worker visa. This employer-sponsored visa is valid for another five years.

Graduates under the age of 26 will enter the job market as “new entrants” with lower salary requirements for a Skilled Worker visa.

Finding a job in the UK as a UK graduate

If you're not ready to leave the UK when you graduate, you may be able to live, work and naturalise in the UK after you graduate. To do this, you can apply for a Skilled Worker Visa, formerly known as a Tier 2 (General) work permit.

To qualify for a UK Skilled Worker visa, you must have a job offer from a UK-based company with a valid sponsorship licence. This job must:

  • Be on the eligible occupations list
  • Meet the minimum salary requirements – the amount will depend on the type of work you do. The minimum requirement will generally be £26, 200 per year or £10.75 per hour, whichever is higher or the ‘going rate’.

You will also be required to:

  • Speak English at a proficient level
  • Have an A-level qualification or equivalent
  • Show you have enough funds to support yourself initially
  • Get a ‘certificate of sponsorship’ (CoS) from your employer, with information about the role you’ve been offered in the UK

Our business immigration experts can guide you with Certificates of Sponsorships

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Your work permit could be your ticket to full British citizenship

Once you have obtained the Skilled Worker visa, the countdown to indefinite leave to remain (ILR) begins. After you have spent five years in the UK on a Skilled Worker visa, you may be eligible for ILR, which is permanent residency in the UK. One year after receiving ILR, you can apply for British citizenship and ultimately naturalise as a British citizen.

When you study abroad at a UK university, you can take advantage of a shorter and more intensive education system than in many other countries. This means you can complete your studies earlier and enter the UK workforce sooner, which can mean a shorter path to naturalisation as a UK citizen.


If you’re interested in studying in the UK, our study advisers are qualified to give you advice to help you with applying for a relevant programme and will assist you at every step of the way.

We have direct access to our partner universities’ admissions teams, making it easy for you to apply and get your enrolment letter. Get in touch with us at or call us on +27 21 657 1543.

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