United Kingdom | Visa Requirements

Thousands of international students apply and are allocated Visas to study in the UK. The UK government actively encourages international students to come and study in the country, and there is no limit to the number of student Visas that can be issued each year.

International students can apply for a student Visa up to three months before the start of their course, but it is crucial that applicants plan and research the requirements for Visas thoroughly before embarking on the process.

Decisions on Visa applications are made within three weeks but it is a good idea that students check the average processing times for Visa applications in their country, they can do this here.

There are a number of different kinds of Visas available in the UK and these are dependent on the type of course and the student’s specific situations:

Visas for shorter courses

Child / Student visitor Visas
(suitable for students wishing to study short courses or an 11 month language course):

Applicants under the age of 17 who wish to study in the UK for up to six months should apply for the Child Visitor Visa.

Applicants 18+ who wish to study in the UK for up to 6 months should apply for the Student Visitor Visa. Students over 18 who wish to study an English language course can apply for an extended Visa which will allow them to stay in the UK for up to 11 months.

Visas for longer courses

Tier 4 (child) Student Visa/ Tier 4 (general) Student Visa

Applicants between 4 and 17 years old can apply for the Child Student Visa. Applicants between 4 and 15 must be coming to the UK to be educated at a fee paying institution.

If an applicant is over 16 and they meet the eligibility criteria, they can apply for the General Student Visa. The criteria for this can be found here.

Working in the UK with a student Visa

Students on a Tier 4 Visa who are studying a course on level or aboveNQF 6/QCF 6/SCQF 9 (typically a bachelor’s degree or above) at a UK higher education establishment are able to gain employment under their Visa.

Students can work up to 20 hours per week during course term time and full time during term breaks. Students are also eligible to complete a work placement as part of their studies. Students can also complete work as a postgraduate Doctor or dentist as part of a foundation programme, and also opt to work as a student union sabbatical officer for up to two years. The flexibility in terms of employment provided by the UK Visa system is fantastically advantageous to the international student, both in terms of helping them finance their studies, but also allowing them to gain experience of the UK employment market.

Students who hold a visitor’s Visa are not allowed to work during their stay in the UK, either paid or unpaid.

Postgraduate employment

For information on graduate employment please see here.

Documents required to apply for a UK study Visa

Students will need several documents to allow them to apply for a UK study Visa, ultimately they require what is known as ’40 points’ which can be achieved by the providing the following:

  • A course confirmation/ acceptance from an institution that has been approved by UK Visa and Immigration (UKVI). The institution must have been given or applied for Highly Trusted Status (HTS) on the UKVI Tier 4 Sponsor List. For more information, please click here. This is worth 30 points.
  • The student must provide evidence that they have the means to pay their tuition fees and also support their living costs. This is worth 10 points.

Further information

Students applying for the Tier 4 General Visa may be required to take an English Language test as part of their Visa application. The UK Home Office have provided some additional information relating to English language testing which can be found here and here.

If a student is applying for a Visa that will enable them to remain in the UK for more than 6 months on or after the 6th April 2015, they will be required by law to pay an NHS surcharge of £150 p/a.

For more details on healthcare and other official details, please visit the gov.uk official site.

To be eligible to study in the UK, international students must be joining an educational institute that is validated by the UK Government.

Please see the below links for guidance and more information on the institutes who fit the criteria.

There are some instances where international students can bring their dependents with them when they come to study in the UK. It is very important that applicants research the regulations regarding this, please have a look at the ‘Bringing your family’ page.

To find out more about UK study Visas, there is lots of information available on the UK Visa and Immigration site. For students thinking about studying in the UK, please get in touch with a member of our UK team who would be delighted to advise you on the processes relating to Visa applications.