Step By Step Guide to UK Student Visa Process


UK Student Visa

International students are drawn to the United Kingdom for its prestigious educational institutions, diverse population, low cost of living, and abundant employment opportunities. Students from Ireland do not need a visa to study in the United Kingdom. Get an overview of the UK student visa process and different UK student visa categories (short-term, student, or child visa) that those of a different nationality need to apply to study in the UK.


UK Student Visa Categories

The United Kingdom offers three distinct categories of study visas, each distinguished by factors such as the applicant’s age, the duration of the chosen course of study, and the type of program selected.


Student Visa

Overview: It is a prerequisite for individuals aged 18 or above, who have been accepted into courses lasting 6 months or more, or who have enrolled in English language programs with a term of 11 months or longer. A student visa is required for full-time undergraduate or postgraduate programs in the UK. This visa allows an applicant to stay during the length of the program and work while attending school.

Duration of Stay: Under this category, if you are pursuing a course at the degree level, you are typically permitted to remain in the United Kingdom for a maximum duration of 5 years. Those whose academic program is not degree-level are usually only allowed to stay in the UK for a maximum of two years. After completing the program, individuals can extend their stay in the UK by applying for a visa extension, and meeting eligibility criteria. This may involve further studies, transitioning to a Student visa, or a Graduate visa, which allows a minimum stay of 2 years after course completion.

Employment opportunities: The UK student visa designated for full-time degree-level programs permits students to engage in employment for a maximum of 20 hours per week during “term time,” which is the duration specified by the student sponsor for academic pursuits. This employment may involve both paid and non-paid positions with single or multiple organizations. However, eligibility is contingent upon various factors including age, term time, the track record and other credentials of the sponsor, and internships and work placements required by the program, among others.


Short-term Study Visa

Overview: It is a mandatory requirement for individuals aged 16 or above who have been accepted into English language courses with a program duration of less than 11 months. To pursue your English language course within the United Kingdom, it is essential to enroll in an accredited institution either within the UK or an authorized overseas education provider, given you meet the eligibility criteria for studying in the UK as part of your program. This visa category does not allow for visa extensions.

Duration of Stay: As long as your stay in the UK does not exceed 11 months, you are permitted to stay in the country for the duration of your course plus in addition to an extra 30 days.

Employment opportunities: You are not permitted to engage in any employment activity under this visa category, including paid or unpaid positions, apprenticeships, or work experience.


Child Student Visa

Overview: It is a requirement for students aged 4 to 17 who have secured admission to a UK-based educational institution and have a valid Tier 4 sponsor. You must have received an unconditional offer of admission to an independent school program. Furthermore, you must be able to demonstrate that you have enough means to finance your stay and studies in the UK, as well as the agreement of your parent or guardian to study in the UK.

Duration of Stay: The child visa category provides for a program term of up to 6 years for students under the age of 16, and up to 3 years for those aged 16 or 17, with a 4-month extension after the program expires. The duration of stay is determined by the applicant’s age, application date, and program length.

Employment opportunities: You cannot work full-time or be self-employed under this visa type. If you are 16 or older, you may work up to 10 hours per week part-time during term, full-time during holidays, or on a work placement as mandated by your program.


UK Student Visa – Eligibility to apply

To secure admission into your preferred program in the United Kingdom, it is imperative to have the following:

  • An unconditional offer from an accredited student sponsor
  • Sufficient funds on hand to cover your living expenses and the cost of your education
  • Consent from parents (if an applicant is aged below 18)
  • Proven command over the English language

UK Student Visa Fee

Student Visa/Child Visa: The fee for a student/child UK visa application is £363 for individuals residing outside of the United Kingdom, while those seeking to extend or transition to a Child Student visa are required to pay £490. The health surcharge fee is a necessary component of the visa application process, with a variable amount that is dependent upon the validity of the visa.

Short-term Visa: Short-term student visa application in the UK costs £200, with a £470 healthcare surcharge for National Health Service access.


UK Student Visa Processing Time

Student Visa/Child Visa: The application process for a Student Visa/Child Visa outside of the United Kingdom allows individuals to submit their applications up to six months before the commencement of their intended study. Following the submission, applicants are likely to get a decision within three weeks. Applicants from the United Kingdom can submit their applications for the program up to three months before the designated start date. Typically, they can expect to receive a decision regarding their application within a period of eight weeks. It is necessary to submit your application before the expiration of your current visa.

Short-term Visa: To obtain a short-term visa in the UK, you must submit your online UK visa application for the UK at least three months before your intended arrival date. To establish your identification and supply documentation, you must schedule an appointment at a visa application center. The officials at the center may retain your passport and accompanying documents. Typically, an outcome is released within three weeks of the application, with the provision of expedited decision-making for an additional fee.


Document Checklist

  • A valid passport
  • Completed UK visa application form
  • Visa fee payment confirmation receipt
  • 2 recent passport-sized photographs
  • Parental or legal guardian consent (if the student is under the age of 18)
  • University letter of acceptance along with the CAS (Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies) number (provided by the university)
  • Financial sponsor documents (if applicable)
  • Police clearance certificate
  • Tuberculosis Test Results (if applicable)
  • Polio and COVID vaccination certificates (specific cases only)
  • Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) certificate (if required for your program)
  • Original mark sheets or provisional certificates
  • English Proficiency Test Scores – IELTS/PTE etc.
  • Standardized Test Scores – GRE/GMAT etc. (if applicable)
  • Immigration Health Surcharge
  • Statement of proof for funds: You need proof you can pay tuition fees for the first year of education and your cost of living for up to 9 months.

-Tuition fee payment receipt for the first academic year or full course fees if the course is less than 1 year (usually reflected on CAS Letter)
-Living expenses: if living in Inner London, an amount of £1,334 per month/if living anywhere else in the UK, an amount of £1,023 per month
-Additional living expenses of any eligible family members, at a rate of £680 per person per month

Supporting Documents (Financial Proof)

-Bank letter, Payslips, Bank account statement (applicant/parents)
-Financial sponsorship from a UKVI-approved international organization or Government Scholarship (if applicable)
-Student loan Letter from an authorized bank (if applicable)

To demonstrate proof of maintenance, it is necessary to provide evidence that the funds have been retained for a duration of at least 28 consecutive days. The end of that 28-day window cannot be earlier than one month before the date of your UK visa application.


UK Student Visa Process Step by Step

  • Determine your eligibility for the UK student visa along with the student visa category applicable in your case.
  • Apply to and obtain an unconditional offer letter and CAS reference number from an institution of higher learning that you want to attend.
  • Prepare a checklist and get your documents ready. The Commonly-required documents include the unconditional offer letter, CAS Letter, academic qualifications, Proof of English language proficiency, Proof of funds (including supporting documentation), and so on.
  • Apply for a student visa by filling out an online Application Form and paying a UK Student Visa Application Fees and an Immigration Health Surcharge Fee.
  • To apply for a visa, schedule an appointment at the Visa Application Centre, submit your application, photographs, and fingerprints, or use the “UK Immigration: ID Check” app. You may also be selected for a five-minute credibility interview.
  • After processing, your decision letter and passport will be returned with a vignette allowing you to enter the UK within 30 or 90 days.
  • Upon arrival, collect your biometric residence permit (BRP) within ten days, bringing your passport, entry vignette, and visa decision letter.

Ultimately, a successful visa application requires systematic steps taken at the right time. Although we outlined the essentials – eligibility, visa categories, needed paperwork, and visa procedure – do not hesitate to seek specialized guidance from our UK education specialists at Manya-The Princeton Review while navigating the UK student visa process for Indian students.

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What is CAS Letter?

Your institution will send a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) to you, which typically includes a 14-digit reference number, academic program commencement and conclusion dates, Sponsor License Number, program title, tuition and accommodation fees, and language proficiency assessment scores.

What are the additional documents that applicants aged below 18 years require for the UK study visa process?

In addition to the standard documents required for a UK study visa, students under the age of 18 must provide evidence of approval from a parent/guardian, proof of relationship with a parent/guardian, and a copy of their birth certificate or any government document bearing names of their parents.

What does a UK visa’s 28-day restriction mean?

For 28 consecutive days, your maintenance funds must be in your account. Your application will be denied if you do not meet the standards set by the Home Office or if the funds requested fall below the required amount for even one day.

What are the most common causes of UK student visa denial?

Missing papers, inconsistencies in the given information, poor academic standing, inadequate money, poor interview performance, and other related factors significantly raise an applicant’s chances of being denied a UK study visa.

What is an ATAS certificate?

The level of study for which you are going to the UK and the subject matter of your degree will determine whether you need an ATAS (Academic Technology Approval Scheme) certificate. Postgraduate students researching sensitive issues in science and technology may require an ATAS to apply for a UK student visa.

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