There are two different types of visa for which students may be eligible.
Points-based visas, including the General Student Visa, are necessary for longer courses but students have to fulfil more requirements to be eligible. These visas can only be offered by education institutions on the Register of Sponsors.
Extended Student Visitor Visas of 6-11 months are available for English language students only, with no requirements about language level.
Students who want to study in the UK must apply for one of these specialist visas: it is no longer possible to do so on any other type of visa, such as a family or general visitor visa.
The UK has had a points-based visa system since 2009, and the student part of it is called Tier 4. There are two types of Tier 4 visas: the General Student Visa (GSV) and the Child Student Visa. Students have to prove they have enough money to live in the UK and pay tuition fees, that they have reached level B1 on the CEFR, and have a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS), which is a valid offer of a place at a UK educational institution on the Register of Sponsors.
The Student Visitor Visa, Extended Student Visitor Visa, Child Visitor Visa and Prospective Student Visa are not part of Tier 4 and have a different set of rules. They are very useful for students on shorter courses or with low starting levels of English.
As all schools and education providers (also known as sponsors) must be accredited, a very high standard of education is guaranteed. If you are a non-EEA (European Economic Area) student, here's some information on what you will need to have in place in order to obtain your study visa for the UK.
For any further information that you require, you should visit the Home Office website.
* Please note that this information is intended as a guide only. As visa rules and regulations are often subject to change, English UK cannot be held responsible for any mistakes or inaccuracies. We would advise you to visit the Home Office website above or contact your course provider, agent or local visa application post for the most up-to-date information.
It's easy with our helpful glossary!
Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies – a unique identification number generated electronically through the SMS, required for all visa applications under the PBS - charge will be £14 per CAS
Child Student Visa – for long-stay junior students (under 18s) coming to UK independent (boarding) schools
Entry Clearance Officers – Home Office staff based in British Embassies around the world who decide on visa applications
General Student Visa – the visa for those students who want to stay for more than 6 months, or less than 6 months but intend to work and/or extend their stay at the end of their course
Points Based System – a system of basing visa decisions on objective rather than subjective criteria, with each criterion counting for a number of points towards a target total
Register of Sponsors – a public list of all those organisations approved by the UK Border Agency as 'sponsors' of employees or students for their visa applications; education institutions must be accredited by a Home Offcie-approved accrediting body such as Accreditation UK
Sponsor Management System – a secure IT system that sponsors use to issue CASs and update student records; it is also accessed by ECOs as part of visa processing
Student Visitor Visa – a form of tourist visa (maximum six months) intended for students who want to take a short course with no other entitlements such as work rights or the ability to extend the visa; it is outside the PBS
The Home Office is a UK government department and the key body responsible for all matters affecting migrants to the UK whether short-term or permanent (this was formerly carried out by the UKBA - an executive agency of the Home Office)
Firstly you need to decide on how long you are planning to come to study in the UK:
If you will be staying for less than 6 months and do not intend to work or extend your stay, you should apply for a Student Visitor Visa. The student visitor visa route is outside the points based system and the rules for application have not been amended. For more information, please click here.
Similarly for those under 18 staying for less than 6 months, typically wanting to do summer courses, they will need to apply for a Child Visitor Visa (CVV) which is outside of PBS and it has no entitlements. For more information on the CVV, please click here.
You can choose the Extended Student Visitor (ESVV) if you are coming for an English language course only and do not intend to work.
However, if you intend to stay for more than 6 months or less than 6 months but intend to work and/or extend your stay at the end of your course, and you meet the minimum level requirement (CEFR B1), you will need to apply for a Student Visa under Tier 4 of the Points Based System:
Yes, part-time in term time and full-time in holidays and only if studying at a publicly-funded institution
The new system is a points-based system so students need to have enough points in order to come to study.
In total you will need 40 points:
To obtain the points you will need to comply with certain regulations and provide certain documents.
To apply for a PBS visa (GSV) to follow an English language course, students will need to prove that they have previously studied English. Complete beginners will not be able to apply for a General Student Visa (GSV). Beginners will have to come to the UK via the Student Visitor Visa (SVV) route for a maximum of 6 months or the Extended Student Visitor Visa (ESVV) for a maximum of 11 months. You can use the English UK website to help you search for a course with an accredited course provider by clicking here.
The minimum course levels for the GSV are below – the school or education provider will be able to confirm the levels of the course you have applied for.
There are rules surrounding the type of course students can take, including the length of the course and how many hours per week:
Only students studying at publicly funded institutions will be able to work on a GSV. For more information please visit www.gov.uk/tier-4-general-visa.
Child students on a CSV can do courses that are:
Once you have decided which course you want to take, you need to apply to the school for a place on this course. Under the new rules you can only study at an institution that is either on the Home Office list of Registered Sponsors or accredited by one of the accrediting bodies approved by the Home Office. The Home Office Register of Sponsors can be accessed here.
Once you have applied for a place on a course and your application to your chosen education provider has been accepted, the school will issue you with a CAS. The CAS is a unique reference number, not a paper document, and is issued from the web-based Sponsor Management System (SMS). You will need this number when filling in your application form for your visa. Each CAS will cost you £14.
Students need to show that they have enough money to cover the below:
The money must be held in cash. Shares or bonds will not be accepted.
You will need to show that you have held the money for at least 28 days and the end of this 28 day period must not be more than one month before the date of your application.
You have to show that you have the following amount of money:
You will need to have the total amount of living costs and the course fees in your bank account if you have not already paid for your course fees and/or accommodation in advance.
If you are already in the UK and are extending your current visa you may only have to show a reduced amount of funds. You may need to show a lower amount of money for your living costs if:
If you meet these requirements, you will only need to show two months worth of living costs together with your full course fees for the required length of time.
You cannot apply showing the lower amount of money if you:
You can find more information on the amount of money you must show on the Home Office website.
To prove you have enough money you have to show that you have either:
Child students can use an account in their parents or legal guardian's name.
The student visa application fee depends on where you apply from:
You must provide payment or your application will be invalid and will not be considered.
Having read the above guidance you can now think about applying for your visa.
The next steps set out how to apply for your visa – there is more detailed information about applying available on the Home Office website.
If you are an extending student and applying from within the UK, there is information on how to apply on the Home Office website.
If you are applying for a general or child student visa under Tier 4 the correct form to use is VAF9 – PBS Migrant. Additionally you will have to complete and submit a self assessment form.
Self assessment forms: