Your course must meet the government’s eligibility requirements and your individual application is calculated using a points-based system.
Student visa rules: an overview
You need 40 points to apply for a student visa. This is achieved by:
- Course confirmation: you must receive an unconditional offer and a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) from a university that is a licensed Tier 4 sponsor (30 points).
- Funding: you must also provide proof that you have enough funds to pay for both your course tuition fees and your monthly living costs (10 points).
How to apply
You can only apply for your visa once you have been given a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies and three months before the start date of your course.
You will also need to pay the healthcare surcharge (which gives you access to the UK’s National Health Service) upon application, but only if you intend to live in the UK for longer than six months.
You can apply for a short-term study visa if you’re planning to take a short course (no more than six months) in the UK. You must also come from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland.
Short-term study visa rules: an overview
To qualify for the short-term study visa, you must meet the government’s requirements.
How to apply
You must also have your fingerprints and photograph (known as “biometric information”) taken at a visa application centre.
This visa cannot be extended, and you will be unable to switch to another visa category.
If you are 16 or over and want to study English for up to 11 months, the short-term study visa is for you. For anything longer than 11 months, you’ll need to apply for the Tier 4 (General) student visa.
All universities in London have trained visa advisors and will be able to guide you through the visa process once you have been accepted onto a course.
Students aged between four and 17 can apply for a Tier 4 (Child) student visa.
There are many jobs and work experience opportunities for students and graduates in London. You may be able to work during your studies, depending on your course.
For a comprehensive guide to working in London during your studies, visit the UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA) and the UK Visa and Immigration websites.
Students who wish to remain in the UK after they graduate must apply for a work visa, unless they meet the criteria for a two-year post-study work visa for international students.
The UK government is launching a new Graduate Route for international students from summer 2021.
What is the criteria for the Graduate Route?
The Graduate Route is a new visa available for eligible international students. Here’s what you need to know:
- It will apply to those who have successfully graduated from an undergraduate or master’s degree or have completed a PhD.
- Successful applicants will have permission to stay and work in the UK at any skill level for a maximum period of two years.
- PhD graduates will be able to stay for three years.
- This route will be available to international students who graduate from the summer of 2021 and who meet the necessary criteria.
What do I need to apply?
You will need a valid Tier 4 visa at the time of your application. You also need to have successfully completed a degree at undergraduate level or above at a compliant Higher Education Provider.
You will need to start a new visa application; on top of the visa you may already have. You will not be eligible if your visa expires before the Graduate Route is introduced.
Take a look at the official UK Government guidance on students and distance learning in the 2020-2021 academic year.
Find out more
Visit the official UK Visas & Immigration website to check which visa you may need to stay and work in the UK. You’ll also find frequently asked questions on the Home Office blog and the UKCISA website.