How to apply for a UK student visa?
If you are a student planning to study in the UK for an extended period of time (more than 6 months), you are required to apply for a (Tier 4) General Student Visa.
Here we focus on the detailed procedures in applying for a UK student visa which includes the rules to be followed, costs and must-haves for a visa application.
If you are a beginner exploring study in the UK, check our complete guide on UK study for international students.
Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS)
In order to enter the UK as a student, you will need to apply to an institution and get accepted by UK immigration. You can do the research as much as you like about all the possible universities or colleges and the courses as an option in the UK that are suitable for your career and then apply online when you are fully happy and sure of an institution and a course that you intend to enrol in.
After you complete the application process and get accepted by the institution, they will send you a unique reference number called the Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) letter.
This is an important document that is needed to apply for a student visa. The CAS contains information regarding your academic qualifications, English language tests, course, fee and institution information as well as the reference number which are all important to complete on your visa application form.
English Language Proficiency Test
If you are applying for a Tier 4 General Student Visa to enter directly into an undergraduate or postgraduate program at a university or a college, meeting the English language requirement is a must.
Almost all British universities accept the IELTS as proof of English language proficiency if you are applying from a non-English speaking country. Applying as a Tier 4 General Student Visa for degree level and an above, a minimum overall score of 5.5 is required with no less than 5.5 in each of the four skills.
Also, some universities may accept alternative English language tests scores so make sure you check with the university or a college what type of English language tests score that they recognize or accept before applying.
Tier 4 (General) Student Visa
This Tier 4 General Student Visa category is granted to international students that intend to stay for more than 6 months for studies. It is part of the UK Immigration under a Points Based System (PBS) where you will need to earn/score a total of 40 points to qualify for this visa.
These points are achieved by your CAS and other reference information (30 points) and funding or financial proof that you will be able to finance your studies and living expenses while in the UK (10 points). Be sure to apply for a Tier 4 visa no more than three months (90) days before the commencement date of your course and no later than six months after receiving your CAS.
Before applying for a student visa, you will need to be prepared with all the necessary and supportive documents in hard copies or in a digital form.
You will need:
- Recent passport size photographs
- Personal information on CAS form and a CAS number
- Financial evidence that you can cover your tuitions and living expenses while in the UK
- Valid passport
- Biometric information
- Tuberculosis test results
- English Language Test scores
- Certified translations of all documents in English