The United Kingdom is a popular destination for international students, with its renowned universities, quality of education, and diverse cultural experiences. To study in the UK, international students must obtain a Student Visa. This used to be known as Tier 4 (General) Visa.
The Student Visa is designed for students aged 16 and above who want to study a full-time degree course or a course lasting longer than six months in the UK. Students who are studying a short-term course of less than six months can apply for a Short-Term Study visa.
To apply for a Student Visa, students must first have an offer of a place on a course from a licensed Student sponsor. The sponsor will provide the student with a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) number, which is required to apply for a visa. Students must also demonstrate that they have enough money to support themselves during their studies in the UK, which is known as the maintenance requirement.
The maintenance requirement varies depending on the length of the course and the location of the university.
As of March 2023, students must have £1,334 per month for living costs in London and £1,023 per month for living costs outside of London. Students must also pay a healthcare surcharge as part of their visa application, which entitles them to access the National Health Service (NHS) during their stay in the UK.
The Student Visa application process is completed online, and students must provide biometric information at a visa application centre. The application fee is currently £363 (from outside the UK) and £490 (from inside the UK).
Students can apply for the visa up to six months before the start of their course, and they can usually expect a decision within three weeks.
Once students arrive in the UK, they must register with the police if their visa requires it, and they must also enrol on their course. International students are allowed to work part-time during their studies, with a limit of 20 hours per week during term time and full-time during vacation periods.
After completing their studies, students can switch to a Graduate Visa which will enable them to remain and work in the UK for up to 2 years. Alternatively, students may switch to a Skilled Worker Visa (formerly Tier 2 (General) visa), which allows them to work in the UK for up to five years. To be eligible for this visa, students must have an offer of a skilled job from a licensed employer and meet the relevant points-based system requirements.
The Skilled Worker visa is an immigration route which leads to settlement (indefinite leave to remain).