Want to study in the UK? Find out whether you need to apply for a UK student visa, and how the application process works.
UK visa requirements and general immigration criteria are managed by UK Visas and Immigration, which has an easy-to-navigate site to help you determine whether you need a UK student visa. While Swiss nationals and those from the EU/EEA states do not currently need a visa to study in the UK, all other international students are likely to need one.
The result of the UK’s referendum on membership in the European Union (‘Brexit’) has led to some uncertainty over visa regulations, but the UK government has stated that there will be no change to the rights and status of EU citizens until 2021.
Types of UK student visa
If you’re studying a short course and are over 18 years old, you may be eligible for the short-term study visa. This is valid up to six months for most short courses and can be extended for a stay of up to 11 months for English language courses.
If you’re studying a longer course, you’ll need to make sure your chosen institution holds a Student Sponsor License. You can either apply for a child student visa (if you’re aged 4-17 and want to study at an independent school in the UK) or a general student visa for those aged 16 and over.
UK student visa requirements
Your course provider may be willing to help you to apply for a UK student visa once you have been offered a place on a course; ask to find out if this is the case. You can apply for the visa up to three months in advance of the start date of your course. Check the average visa processing times for your country, and be sure to allow plenty of time.
UK student visa fees
The current fee for a student visa is £363 (~US$418) if you apply outside of the UK, or £490 (~US$564). You’ll also need to pay a healthcare surcharge per year in order to access the National Health Service (NHS) during your stay. This is an additional cost of £470 (~US$540).
Using your UK student visa
When you enter the UK, a UK Border Agency officer will put a stamp on your passport that states the duration of your stay in the UK. For example, if your course is 12 months or more, you can stay for the full duration of the course plus an additional four months. You cannot extend your stay beyond this period.
Before you arrive, you must make sure you are fully immunized, remembering to pack your immunization record in your hand luggage in case you are asked to show the Border Agency officer at your UK port of entry. You should also carry the documents relating to your studies (including your Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies or CAS number), your proof of finances and your proof of accommodation.
Working while studying in the UK
All EU, EEA and Swiss students can work while studying in the UK. Students of publicly funded higher education institutions on student visas can work for up to 20 hours per week during term time and full-time during Christmas and Easter breaks (unless you are aged 16 or 17, in which case the maximum is 10 hours per week during term time).
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