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How to get a UK student visa

The UK's student visa process can seem a bit complicated and confusing. We have provided the necessary information to help you get your visa without hassle.

Getting your student visa is the last step before starting university. Many students fear that a visa rejection can set them back on their study abroad journey. But there is no need to be nervous if you get to know the process and prepare in advance. In this article, we have provided everything you need to know to be well prepared to get your visa.

 

In this article:

What is a UK student visa?

All international students apart from Irish students need to get a visa to study in the UK. A student visa is an official government permit that allows you to enter, stay and study in the UK. There are certain other benefits and restrictions based on the type of student visa.  

Students from the European Economic Area (EEA) countries and Switzerland were initially exempt from getting a visa, but starting from the 1st of January, 2021 they will also need a visa to study in the UK.

What are the types of student visas available in the UK?

There are three types of student visas - short-term study visa, student visa and child student visa. Since the child student visa is applicable only for students between the ages of 4 and 17, let's look at the other two in detail.

  • Short-term study visa

If you are going to pursue a short course with a duration of less than 11 months like a foundational course, you can opt for this type of visa. With a short-term study visa, you can stay in the UK for the duration of your course (up to 11 months). You cannot extend this visa, and you cannot work while studying. 

If you are from EEA, the US, Canada or Australia, you can gain entry into the UK as a visitor on arrival. You can study a short course with a duration of less than 6 months from an accredited institution or a recreational course with a duration of less than 30 days while holding a visitor status. A short-term study visa will not be needed in this case.

  • Student visa

If you are going to pursue a full-time course like a degree, you can opt for the student visa. With this type of visa, you can stay in the UK for the duration of your course; you can apply to extend the visa, and you will also have the option to work while studying. 

Additionally, you will have the opportunity to apply for a graduate visa for up to 2 years after completing your course to stay back and work.

When to apply for a UK student visa?

Candidates are usually advised to apply at least three months before their intended date of departure. Typically, you will be told the final status of your visa within three weeks after submitting your application.

What is the eligibility criteria to apply for a short-term UK study visa or a UK student visa?

  • You need to be 16 years or older to apply for a short-term study visa or a student visa.
  • You need an unconditional offer from a UK university that is a licenced visa sponsor. 
  • You need to have good English language communication skills. In some instances, you might have to provide test scores like the IELTS scores as proof. 
  • You need to have all the required documents.

Checklist of required documents to apply for a UK student visa

These are a set of documents that you need to submit when you apply for your student visa. You will receive your visa only after your documents are verified.

  • A valid passport. 
  • Parental or legal guardian consent with proof of relationship if the student is under the age of 18.
  • University letter of acceptance along with the CAS (Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies) number. Your university will provide the CAS reference number. You need to start your visa application within six months of receiving your letter of acceptance because your CAS number will expire in 6 months. However, 3 months is generally more than enough to obtain your visa. 
  • Statement of proof for your funds. This is to check if you will be able to take care of yourself financially during the course of your education. You need to prove that you will be able to fund your:
  1. Tuition fee for the first year of education.
  2. Cost of living for up to 9 months.

Note:

You also need to show proof that you have held on to this money in your bank account for more than 28 days while applying for your visa.

  • Medical examination report testing for diseases like Tuberculosis.

What is the average cost of a UK student visa?

The average application cost for a UK student visa is £348. It is £97 for a 6-month short term study visa and £186 for an 11-month short term study visa. You can pay this amount online, in person at the visa centres or through demand drafts.

Where to apply for a UK student visa?

You can apply for the UK student visa online through the UK Visas & Immigration portal. Use this link to fill out the visa application form. Though this process is online, you will have to physically go to the visa centres for giving your biometric data and attending your visa interview.

How to apply for a UK student visa?

Step 1

Get all your documents ready as per the checklist above.

Step 2 

Go to the official UK Visa Website and create an account.

Step 3 

Fill out the visa application form online. Take a print out of the completed form to sign and submit at the visa centre later.

Step 4

Book your appointment to visit the visa centre using the online appointment calendar. Once you finish this part of the process, you will receive an application number via email. Note this number down for future reference.

Step 5 

Pay your visa processing charge in one of the following three ways:

  1. Online using Visa Card or Mastercard.
  2. Through a demand draft from Standard Chartered Bank or a nationalised/foreign bank. You should get the demand draft in favour of 'The British High Commission'.
  3. Pay in person at the visa centre while submitting your application.

Step 6 

Go to the visa centre at the appointed date and time to submit your application. Your original document verification and visa interview will be conducted. Your fingerprints and photographs will also be taken at this point. 

What is asked in a UK student visa interview?

The primary purpose of the visa interview is accessing your intentions behind coming to the UK and your English language communication skills. Most of the questions are going to revolve around you and the data you have provided in your visa application form. 

Sample questions:
  • Why did you choose the [University name]?
  • Why do you want to study in the UK?
  • Who is going to take care of your expenses for the duration of your course? 
  • Would you want to work in the UK after completing your course?

      How to handle a UK student visa interview?

      It is quite easy to prepare for a visa interview as you already know the answers to all the questions that they are going to ask. All you need to do is, 

      1. Listen carefully to the question.
      2. Answer concisely, clearly and confidently.

        You can start preparing by sitting in front of a mirror and practising. This way, you will be able to notice your stance, body language and improve your self-confidence and speaking skills. 

        For more pointers on clearing your visa interviews read, 'How to clear your UK student visa interview?'.

        When can you come to the UK after getting your visa?

        If the length of your course is six months or less, you can arrive one week before your course starts. If the duration of your course is more than six months, you can arrive one month before your course starts.

        How to shorten the processing time of a UK student visa application

        It can take 3-6 weeks to process a visa application. If you need to speed up your process, you can use one of the two available options: 

        • Priority visa service

        For an additional fee, you can get your application processed within five days.

        • Super priority visa service

        For an additional fee, you can get your application processed within 24 hours.

        You should note these are just tentative timings and there might be a delay in certain exceptional cases. The additional fee is also non-refundable.  

        If you have any other doubts or need more information in this area, feel free to contact our educational advisors online.