New Student Immigration System
27 March 2009

Are you thinking about studying in the UK?

From 31 March 2009, new rules should make it easier to apply for a student visa. And when a new computer system goes live in the autumn, getting a visa may be faster as well.

There are other important benefits for students. From now on, you will only get a visa to study in the UK at an accredited school, which means it has to meet high standards of education and care.

"For the first time, overseas students coming to the UK on a visa will have quality assurance. They will know that the school they are coming to is accredited. It will be safer and more reliable for them to choose a school here under the new system," says Tony Millns, Chief Executive of English UK which has more than 400 accredited member schools.

Under the new system there are two kinds of student visa. Under-16s can apply for a child student visa, and over-18s an adult student visa. If you are 16 or 17, you can choose which visa to apply for. These visas entitle you to spend enough time in the UK to finish your studies and graduate.

If you have an adult student visa you can do up to 20 hours work a week in term time. You can do more hours of paid work in the holidays. You can also bring dependents, although you must support them.

The new system will help students in other ways. In the past people with visas have sometimes been refused entry to the UK because immigration officers did not believe they were genuine students.

Now there are clear entry requirements which every student will have to meet before getting a visa.

So how do you get a new visa to study in the UK? Follow these simple steps.

  • Start by making sure that you have enough money in your bank account to pay for your course fees, food and accommodation. You need to prove you have £600 (or £800 for courses in central London) in maintenance fees for each month you stay on courses of up to nine months, and at least nine months' maintenance for longer courses. This is on top of the course fee.
  • Choose the accredited centre in the UK where you want to study. You will find more than 400 schools, colleges and universities, which are all accredited, using the search box on the right.
  • Once you have booked your course, your school will send you an enrolment letter. You will need this to apply for your visa.
  • To apply for your visa, you will also need to prove that you are capable of taking the course you have applied to do. If you are applying for an English course, you will need to show evidence that you have previously studied English. Complete beginners cannot get a student visa to study English in the UK, but must apply for a Student Visitor Visa (see the UK Border Agency website for details). 
  • To apply for your visa, you will need to produce the following documents: proof that you have enough money in your bank account, the acceptance letter from your chosen school, and information about your previous studies.

Your visa application will be processed in a central office, and you are likely to hear the outcome within 14 to 21 days.

For more detailed information, see


Susan Young


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