UK student visas

 

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Last updated: Tuesday 29 September 2020

Do you need visa to study English in the UK?

If you are planning to study English in the UK, you may need to apply for a student visa. This page will help you understand if you need a visa and what you need to do. 

If you need help, you can contact the English UK team for advice.

Are you an EU/EEA/Swiss national? If you are starting your course in 2020 you do not need a visa. If you are arriving in 2021, you only need a visa if you want to study in the UK for more than six months.


Some other nationalities do not need a visa to study for up to six months. If you have a passport from a country on the non-visa national list you can visit the UK and study for up to six months without a visa.

What would you like to do?


Study English in the UK for six months or less

In 2020, to study English in the UK for six months or less:

From January 2021, to study English in the UK for six months or less:

Why are the rules changing in 2021? The UK will have a new immigration system in 2021, and the government is making it easier for visitors to study for short periods in 2021. If you come to the UK for tourism on a 'visitor visa', you will be allowed to study as much as you like for up to six months.

Choose an accredited course: From 2021, international students are only allowed to study at an institution that is accredited by one the government-recognised accreditation bodies. You can choose any English UK member centre - all English UK member centres are accredited by the British Council's government-recognised quality assurance scheme, Accreditation UK.


How to apply for a Standard Visitor visa

You need a Standard Visitor visa if:

  • you plan to study English in the UK for less than six months
  • your course will start after 1 January 2021
  • you need a visa to visit the UK - check if you need a visa
  • EEA, Swiss nationals and other nationalities on the non-visa national list will not need a visa if their course is six months or less

Key facts about Standard Visitor visas:

  • From 2021, visitors can study as much as they like on this visa. It is possible to take different courses with different providers, as long as the courses have an approved accreditation.
  • Application cost: £95
  • When to apply: up to three months in advance
  • Financial requirements: in your application you will need to show that you have enough money to pay for your trip, including accommodation and living costs
  • If you are under 18, there are additional requirements
  • Apply online for a Standard Visitor visa.

Does your course starts in 2020? If so, you will need to apply for a Short-term study visa.

 

Students Study English in the UK for 6 months or more

Study English in the UK for more than six months

If you are over 16 years old you can apply online for a visa to study English in the UK for more than six months.

Short-term study visa - for English language courses between six and eleven months

If you want to study English in the UK for between six and eleven months, you should apply for a Short-term study visa before you travel (for other course types you need a Student visa).

Are you an EU/EEA/Swiss national? If you are starting your course before 31 December 2020 you do not need a visa. From 2021, you need a visa to study for longer than six months.

Key facts about Short-term study visas:

  • You must be at least 16 years old
  • Visa length: 11 months maximum
  • Suitable for beginners - there is no minimum level of English required
  • Before applying, you need to choose a course and have a letter of confirmation from your institution
  • You are only allowed to study at an institution with an approved accreditation
  • In your application you will need to show that you have enough money to pay for your course fees, accommodation and living costs
  • You will not be able to work in the UK
  • Application cost: £186
  • When to apply: up to three months in advance
  • Apply online for a Short term study visa.

Student visas - for courses longer than 11 months

If you want to study English in the UK for more than 11 months, and your course starts in 2021 or later, you will need a Student visa.

Does your course start in 2020? If so, you will need a Tier 4 visa. Find out more about Tier 4 visas.

Are you an EU/EEA/Swiss national? If you are starting your course before 31 December 2020 you do not need a visa. From 2021, you need a visa to study for more than 6 months. If you arrive in 2020 and want to work in the UK after June 2021, you can do so by applying for pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme.

Key facts about Student visas:

  • Your course must start after 1 January 2021
  • Your course must include at least 15 hours of study per week
  • You must already have an intermediate level of English - you will need to prove your English level by taking a Secure English language Test (IELTS or Trinity College London) at a government-approved testing centre (find out more)
  • You must have an unconditional course offer to study at an institution which has a Student sponsor licence
  • For your visa application, you will need a Confirmation of Acceptance of Studies (CAS) number from your institution
  • In your application you will need to show that you have enough money to pay for your course fees, accommodation and living costs (find out more about providing evidence)
  • Some students studying English language courses with a Student visa are able to work for 10 hours per week
  • Application cost: £348
  • When to apply: up to six months in advance
  • Application for Student visas for 2021 will open on 5 October 2020.

Find an accredited English centre studentswithlaptop

Find an accredited English language centre 

From 2021, all international students must study at an education institution which has a government-approved accredition, on the list of recognised accreditation bodies.

If you want to study English for up to 11 months on a Standard Visitor visa or a Short-term study visa, you can choose any English UK member centre - all English UK member centres are accredited by the British Council's government-recognised quality assurance scheme, Accreditation UK. 

If you apply for a Student visa to study for longer than 11 months, you will need to choose an institution/ centre that is on the UK government's student sponsor register. If you are not sure, ask the institution or contact the English UK team.


Non-visa national countries

If you have a passport from one of the following countries, you do not need a visa to visit the UK or study for up to six months:

Any EEA country
Argentina
Antigua and Barbuda
Argentina
Australia

Bahamas
Barbados
Belize
Botswana
Brazil
Brunei

Canada
Chile
Costa Rica

Dominica

East Timor
El Salvador

Grenada
Guatemala

Honduras
Hong Kong
Israel
Japan

Kiribati
Macau
Malaysia
Maldives

Marshall Islands
Mauritius
Mexico
Micronesia
Monaco

Namibia
Nauru
New Zealand
Nicaragua

Palau
Panama
Papua New Guinea
Paraguay

Saint Kitts and Nevis
Saint Lucia
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
Samoa
San Marino
Seychelles
Singapore
Solomon Islands
South Korea

Taiwan
Tonga
Trinidad and Tobago
Tuvalu

United States of America
Uruguay

Vanuatu
Vatican City

 

This list sometimes changes. You can check if you need a visa by using the UK government tool - enter your nationality and how long you want to study, and it will tell you what visa you need. 


More information on UK visas for students

For more information, the UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA) is an excellent source of advice for students, on visas, money and living in the UK.


Confused? Contact English UK team for advice

If you are unclear about this information, please contact the English UK team.