The UK’s Student visa, which replaced the Tier 4 (General) student visa, can be quite a complicated process however does not need to be. There is also a Child Student visa available to students aged sixteen or seventeen wishing to study at an independent school although this blog will address the standard Student visa. The Student visa is available to those aged 16 and over who have been offered a place in a school, college, or university that is a licenced student sponsor.
The primary step for a student intending on relocating to England or Wales for educational purposes is to research which institution they wish to study at and on what course. According to the gov website, there is a list of courses that you can undertake on the visa which are:
- a full-time course leading to a qualification that’s below degree level (RQF level 3, 4 or 5) with at least 15 hours a week of organised daytime study
- a full-time course leading to a qualification that’s degree level or above (RQF level 6, 7 or 8)
- a full-time course at degree level or above (RQF level 6,7 or 8) that’s equivalent to a UK higher education course and is being delivered as part of a longer course overseas
- a part-time course leading to a qualification that’s above degree level (RQF level 7 or above)
- a recognised foundation programme for postgraduate doctors or dentists
- an English language course at level B2 or above in the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages
- a full-time elected position as a Student Union Sabbatical Officer.
Once placement is secured, the course provider will send the student a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS). Applicants will need this document when making their visa application. In addition to securing a placement, the student must undertake a CEFR level B2 (or B1 for below degree level courses) test to show that they are able to read, write, speak and understand the English language. Furthermore, the student must show evidence that they can financially support themselves whilst studying as well as affording the course itself. It is common for institutions to have higher fees for international students however some schools offer scholarships or bursaries which may be worth enquiring into when applying. Lastly, if the student is under the age of 18, consent will be needed from their parent or guardian.
If applying from outside of the United Kingdom, you can do so up to 6 months prior to the course start date. Whilst processing times are stated to be 3 weeks, it is common that the process can take longer. If the application is granted, the length of stay will depend on the duration of the course. It is important to note that time spent in the country on a Student visa does not count towards settlement visas. The student will need to switch to another visa that offers a route to settlement.
The current Student visa application fee is £348 in addition to the health surcharge which is dependent on the length of the course. Applicants can also apply to bring their dependants with them such as their spouse and/or children.