Studying in the United Kingdom is still a dream for many international students, who are attracted by the country’s world-class universities, diverse cultural scene, and friendly people. However, the UK’s student visa system has changed significantly since Brexit, and it’s important to be aware of the latest requirements if you’re planning to study in the UK in 2023. Guide on eligibility, process & changes to UK Student Visa in 2023. Start your journey now!
Table of contents
- Eligibility for the UK Student Visa
- UK Student Visa Course Requirements
- How to Apply for a UK Student Visa
- Tips for applying for a UK Student Visa
- Changes to the UK Student Visa
- Processing Time and Fees
- Required Documents
- Validity and Extension
- Post-Study Opportunities
- Working with a UK Student Visa
- Bringing Dependents
Eligibility for the UK Student Visa
The eligibility requirements for a UK Student Visa are as follows:
- You must be 16 years old or older.
- You must have been offered a place on a course at a UK higher education institution that is licensed to sponsor international students.
- You must have enough money to support yourself and pay for your course. The amount of money you need will depend on your circumstances. Still, you will typically need to show that you have at least £1,023 per month for living costs and £1,334 per month for living costs in London.
- You must have a good command of English. You must pass an English language test, such as IELTS or TOEFL, with a minimum score of 6.0.
- You must have a valid passport or other travel documentation.
- You must not have any criminal convictions.
- You can apply for a UK Student Visa if you meet all of these requirements. The application process can be complex, so it is important to start your application early. You can find more information about the application process on the UK government website.
UK Student Visa Course Requirements
Students can obtain a UK Student Visa for the following courses:
- Full-time, below-degree-level courses (RQF level 3, 4, or 5) include A levels, apprenticeships, or the first two years of a Bachelor’s degree.
- Full-time courses leading to a degree-level or above qualification (RQF level 6, 7, and 8), including Bachelor, Postgraduate, Master, or Doctorate degrees.
- Part-time courses at a degree level above RQF 7 (Postgraduate, Master, or Doctorate degrees).
- Approved programs for postgraduate doctors or dentists.
- English language courses (level B2 or above) in the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages.
How to Apply for a UK Student Visa
Here’s a general guide on how to apply for a UK Student Visa. Keep in mind that the application process may change over time, so it’s essential to check the official UK government website for the most up-to-date information.
- Choose your course and educational institution.
Before applying for a student visa, you must be accepted into a recognized course at a UK educational institution with a Tier 4 Sponsor License. You can find a list of licensed institutions on the UK government’s website.
- Check visa eligibility
Ensure you meet the eligibility criteria for a UK Student Visa. You typically need an offer from a licensed Tier 4 sponsor, sufficient funds to cover your course fees and living expenses, and evidence of English language proficiency (unless you are exempt). You can find more information on the eligibility criteria on the UK government’s website.
- Online application
Complete the online visa application form (Student Route) on the UK government’s official website. You’ll need to create an account and follow the instructions to accurately fill out the required information.
- Pay the application fee.
Pay the visa application fee, which is currently £363. You can pay the fee by credit, debit card, or bank transfer.
- Healthcare surcharge
In addition to the application fee, you may be required to pay a healthcare surcharge as part of your application. This allows you to access the National Health Service (NHS) during your stay in the UK. The current healthcare surcharge is £470 per year.
- Biometrics appointment
After submitting your online application and paying the necessary fees, you must schedule a biometrics appointment at a visa application center in your country. During the appointment, your fingerprints and photograph will be taken.
- Submit supporting documents
Prepare and gather the required documents to support your application. Commonly needed documents include:
CAS (Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies) reference number from your educational institution
Academic certificates and transcripts
Financial documents showing you can cover your tuition fees and living costs.
Proof of English language proficiency (if applicable)
Tuberculosis (TB) test results (if applicable)
- Attend an interview
In some cases, you may be asked to attend an interview at the local British embassy or consulate. This is typically done for added verification.
- Visa decision
After your application is processed, you’ll be notified of the visa decision. If approved, you’ll receive a vignette (sticker) in your passport, allowing you to travel to the UK.
- Collect your BRP
Once you arrive in the UK, you must collect your Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) from a designated collection point. The BRP is your official visa, including details like your visa duration and work conditions.
Tips for applying for a UK Student Visa
- Start the application process early. The visa application process can take several months, so starting early is important.
- Make sure you have all the required documents. The visa application will be rejected if you don’t have all the required documents.
- Carefully read the visa requirements. Make sure you understand all the requirements before you start the application process.
- Double-check your application form. Make sure there are no errors in your application form.
- Be prepared to answer questions about your course, finances, and reasons for wanting to study in the UK.
- Be patient. The visa application process can take several months.
Changes to the UK Student Visa
The new Student Route has brought about several key changes to the UK Student Visa system:
- Age-Based Categories: The visa is now divided into the Student Route (for adult students aged 18+) and Child Student Route (for students aged 4-17), replacing the Tier 4 Child Student Visa.
- EU/EEA Nationals: EU/EEA nationals are now required to apply for a visa if they plan to enter the UK after January 1, 2021.
- Earlier Application: Students can apply for a Student Visa up to six months before their courses begin, giving them more time to prepare.
- Point-Based System: Eligibility for the visa is determined based on a Point-Based System, where students need to collect 70 points.
- Postgraduate Visa: Graduates from British educational institutions after Summer 2021 can apply for a postgraduate visa, which permits them to work or look for work in the UK for up to 2 years.
Processing Time and Fees
The processing time for a UK Student Visa application is approximately 3 weeks if applying from outside the UK and around 8 weeks from within the UK. The application fee is £348 for applications from outside the UK and £475 for extension or switch applications from inside the UK.
Applicants must submit the following documents with their UK Student Visa application:
- A valid passport.
- The Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) from their educational institution.
- Proof of financial resources.
- An Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) certificate, if applicable.
- Criminal record certificate.
- Proof of English language proficiency.
- Tuberculosis test results.
- For students under 18, proof of parental consent and relationship.
Validity and Extension
The validity of the UK Student Visa corresponds to the duration of the enrolled course. Adult students pursuing a degree-level course can obtain a visa for up to five years, while those studying below degree-level courses can get a visa for two years. Students can extend their UK Student Visa if accepted into a higher-level course or have a Tier 4 (General) Student Visa.
Starting in the Summer of every year, international students who complete an undergraduate degree can apply for the Graduate Visa, allowing them to stay in the UK for up to two years and three years for Ph.D. graduates. The Graduate Visa opens doors to various work opportunities, and successful graduates can switch to different immigration categories, such as a UK Work Visa.
Working with a UK Student Visa
International students in the UK can work under certain conditions. However, they cannot claim public benefits or pensions. The type of work allowed depends on the student’s study program and whether they will work during term time or breaks. Some jobs, like professional sportsperson or sports coach, are off-limits, as is being self-employed.
Students with a UK Student Visa can bring their dependent family members to the UK, including their spouse, civil partner, unmarried partner, and dependent children under 18. Each family member must demonstrate sufficient funds to support their stay in the UK.
The UK Student Visa is a great way to study in one of the world’s leading educational destinations. The visa offers a variety of opportunities for international students, including world-class education, a diverse cultural experience, and the potential to work and live in the UK after graduation.