16 and over: UK Student visa

You will need this visa if you wish to attend university or college in the UK.

If you’re outside of the UK, you may apply six months before your course starts and can expect a decision within three weeks. How long the visa is valid for depends on what you intend to study. 

You may be able to extend your visa to continue your course of study in the UK or start a new one, but you must be able to show that the course satisfies the academic progress requirement.

You may study for up to six months on a visitor visa at an accredited institution or take "recreational courses" at any institution for up to 30 days.

Requirements for the UK Student visa

To qualify for this visa, you must:

  • Have confirmation of acceptance for studies from an approved educational institution
  • Have proof of sufficient funds to pay for the course and to support yourself
  • Have proof of English language proficiency
  • Have consent from your parents if you’re 16 or 17

Remaining in the UK after you’ve graduated

You may be able to remain in the UK after you’ve completed your studies if:

  • You switch to a Graduate visa. This visa allows you to stay in the UK for two years if you’ve completed a bachelor's, postgraduate or master’s degree and three years if you have a completed a PhD or other doctorate level degree in the UK.
  • You switch to a Skilled Worker visa. Graduates under the age of 26 will enter the job market as “new entrants” with lower salary requirements for a Skilled Worker visa.
  • You switch to a Spouse visa. If you are married to a British citizen or to a person who has indefinite leave to remain you can apply for this visa which entitles you to live and work in the UK for two and a half years without restriction.

Under 18: Child Student visa

The Child Student visa lets children between the ages of four and 17 study full-time at an independent school in the UK.

To qualify for this visa, you must:

  • Have an unconditional place on a course
  • Have the consent of your parent or guardian
  • Have enough money to cover your course fees and living costs

There are some strict rules about what you can and cannot do on a Child Student visa. Our registered immigration advisors can assist you in understanding the requirements and ensure you make a successful application.

UK Student visa FAQs

1. Can I work while on a UK student visa?

If you are studying full-time course at a degree level, you’re allowed to work up to 20 hours per week during term-time and full-time during holiday breaks.

2. Is the Student visa different to the Tier 4 visa?

The new UK Student visa route replaced the Tier 4 (General) student visa route on 5 October 2020. The old Tier 4 student visa did not provide an easy route to citizenship. Now students who achieve a master’s or PhD in the UK will be permitted to stay in the country to find employment and potentially switch to a Skilled Work visa that can lead to eventual citizenship.

3. How long does a UK student visa last for?

How long you can stay depends on the length of your course and what study you’ve already completed in the UK.

If you’re 18 or over and your course is at degree level, you can usually stay in the UK for up to five years. If it’s below degree level, you can usually stay in the UK for up to two years.

4. How much does a Student visa cost?

It costs:

  • £363 to apply for a Student visa from outside the UK>/li>
  • £490 to extend or switch to a Student visa from inside the UK

You will also have to pay an immigration health surcharge (£624) for every year your visa is valid for.

5. How long is the Student visa’s processing time?

If you’re applying from outside the UK, the earliest you can apply is six months before you start your course. You’ll usually get a decision within three weeks.

If you’re extending your visa from within the UK, the earliest you can apply is three months before your course starts. You must apply before your current visa expires and your new course must begin within 28 days of your current visa expiring. You’ll usually get a decision within eight weeks.

6. Does a Student visa lead to permanent residency?

A UK Student visa does not lead directly to indefinite leave to remain the UK. However, you might be able to qualify for a Graduate visa which allows you to seek employment after graduation. From here, you may be able to switch to a Skilled Worker visa which does lead to residency.

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