Planning to study in the UK? Along with considering what course and university to enrol in, you’ll also need to know how to make your way into the country. After all, you’ll be needing this visa to travel to, study, and live in the UK! Take a look at our checklist of UK student visa requirements so you know exactly how to get started.
Getting a Student Visa for the UK
Depending on the length and nature of your course, you’ll be applying for one of two visas:
Short-Term Study Visa
If you’re applying to the UK to study a short English language course, between 6-11 months long, this is the visa you apply for. Note that while on this visa, you cannot travel to the UK with any dependents, or work while you’re here. You also can’t apply for or study any other course in the UK during this period.
If you’re applying for this visa, you’ll need:
- Proof of acceptance into an institute containing details like the course name, duration, and fees (tuition and accommodation)
- A valid passport/other valid travel permit
- Financial proof that you can support yourself and your studies over the duration of the course
- Details of your planned itinerary and living arrangements (remember not to finalise these before you get the visa)
- Proof that you have either paid or can pay your tuition fees
- A tuberculosis test report, depending on your country of origin
- Contact information of your parents or legal guardians if you are below the age of 18
- Certified-as-true translations of documents in languages other than English and Welsh
- Details of the financial sponsor who is covering your study costs (including their occupation and financial information)
This is not an exclusive list of items you need to provide. Depending on where you live, your age, and some other factors, you may need to meet specific requirements. If this is the visa you’re applying for, be sure to thoroughly check the requirements specific to you!
This visa replaces the Tier 4 (General) Student Visa. If you’re enrolling in a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral program in the UK, the Student visa is the one you’ll be applying for. You must be at or above the age of 16 to apply. Take a look at our breakdown of what this entails below!
UK Student Visa Requirements 2022
1. Get an Unconditional Offer from a University
First things first – before you can get a student visa, you need to be accepted by a licensed student sponsor. This is an education provider in the UK with the license to sponsor international students to enrol here! So, to be able to apply for a student visa for the UK, make sure your chosen institute is a licensed student sponsor.
Once you’re accepted into your chosen course, your school sends you a Confirmation Acceptance for Studies (CAS). This will contain a reference number, which you need to begin applying for a student visa!
2. Prove that You Can Financially Support Yourself
To apply for the Student visa, you need to prove that you can fund your course and expenses in the UK. You must be able to prove that you have enough in your bank account to cover your costs for one academic year (9 months). This includes both your course fees and your living costs!
The education provider will specify the course fees on your CAS. Meanwhile, the amount you’ll need to prove you can cover living costs depends on where this education provider is. If you’re studying in London, you must have up to £1,334 every month for up to 9 months. And if you’re studying outside London, you must have up to £1,023 for every month for up to 9 months.
These funds must be in your account for at least 28 days, within a month (31 days) of your visa application.
If you’re already in the UK for 12 months with another valid visa, you don’t need to provide financial support proof for a Student visa application!
3. Prove that You’re Proficient in English
The UK is after all the birthplace of the English language. So, it’s unsurprising that over 90% of schools will ask for proof of English proficiency for applicants from certain countries. You’ll likely be asked to take a valid English proficiency test to apply and get your CAS in the first place. In applying for a visa, you’ll also need to prove you can converse in, write, read, and understand English at a certain level.
To do so, you’ll need to get a target score from a Secure English Language Test (SELT) from a provider approved by the UK Home Office. These include:
- IELTS SELT Consortium
- PSI Services (UK) Ltd.
At degree level, your English skills must be at a level equivalent to level B2 on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) scale. For your chosen test, make sure you’re familiar with what score you need to target to meet this level. It helps if you can sit the same proficiency test for both your university and visa application. But do check what score boundaries and tests your school is asking for specifically, as well.
Once you’ve completed the test, you’ll receive a SELT reference number. Like your CAS reference number, you must also provide this in your visa application!
You’re exempt from needing to prove your English proficiency if you’re from:
- Antigua and Barbuda
- St Kitts and Nevis
- Trinidad and Tobago
- St Lucia
- The Bahamas
- New Zealand
- St Vincent and the Grenadines
Or, if you:
- Are a Canadian national
- Are applying as part of a US university degree program to complete a study abroad component in the UK
- Already proved your English proficiency through a previous application
4. Other Requirements
Other items you’ll need to provide include:
- Your completed visa application form (you can apply both through a UK embassy and or online)
- A valid, current passport or other travel permit
- Recent passport-sized photograph of you
- Proof of consent from your parent or legal guardian if you are below 18 years old
- Proof that you’ve paid the application fee (for the Short-Term Study Visa, the fee is £186; for a Student visa, it’s £348)
- Immigration Health Surcharge payment, to access National Health Service (NHS) UK – £470 a year
Depending on your country of citizenship you may also be asked for:
- A tuberculosis test report
- Biometrics (fingerprints and photograph) taken at an approved visa application centre
You might have to provide other documentation too, depending on where you’re from and other conditions specific to you. Be sure you’re thoroughly familiar with all requirements before proceeding with your visa application!
Now that You Know the UK Student Visa Requirements, Are You Ready to Apply?
We hope this article clarifies any questions you may have had about starting off your UK Student visa application. To make sure you’re prepared ahead of time, give yourself plenty of time to research! You will need to know which course and school you’re applying to, their specific requirements, and if applying for a Student visa, whether it’s a licensed student sponsor. Since you need a CAS to even begin a Student visa application, make sure you know and meet all of your school’s requirements, and apply early!
Our best piece of advice is always to give yourself enough time to get familiar with UK student visa requirements. Some things take time to prepare – like sitting for and getting your English proficiency test scores. To get everything done on time and be ready to set off to the UK before your classes, the golden advice is always to start early!
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
When Should I Start Applying for the UK Student visa?
We highly recommend you begin your visa application process 3 months before the beginning of your course!
Is the UK student visa easy to get?
As long as you meet all the requirements when applying for the Student visa, the process is quite straightforward. Your application may be slowed down or refused if it’s incomplete, or you don’t meet the requirements we list in the article above. Do make sure that you not only meet the broad requirements but also investigate requirements specific to you. These may vary depending on where you live, how old you are, whether you’re travelling alone or have dependents, and more.
How much bank balance is required for a UK student visa?
To apply for the visa, you need to prove that you can cover your tuition and living costs in the UK. Your bank statements need to show that you have enough in your account to cover one academic year (9 months) of your course fees. Your education provider will specify this amount in your CAS. Plus, you also need to be able to cover your living expenses for up to one academic year (9 months). This varies depending on where your school is. If you’re studying in London, you must have £1,334 per month. And if you’re studying outside London, you must have £1,023 per month. These funds must be in your account for at least 28 days within a 31-day period of your application.
What is the UK student visa processing time?
On average it takes up to 3 weeks to process your UK student visa. If you’re asked to provide biometrics, you may have the option of paying for a faster verdict!