UK Student Visa: A Must for International Students Enrolled in British Institutions
Post-Brexit Update: Rebranded Tier 4 (General) Visa Now Encompasses EU and EEA Students Applying to Study in the UK.
New Era of UK Student Visas: Tier 4 Replaced by ‘Student Route
October 4, 2020, marked a significant change in the UK’s student visa landscape, with the introduction of the ‘Student Route’ replacing the former Tier 4 (General) Student Visa. Notably, this updated visa is now accessible to EEA nationals as well, who previously enjoyed visa-free study in the UK prior to Brexit.
The British Government has emphasized that the Student Route does not impose a cap on the number of eligible students.
Key modifications to the UK Student Visa post-October 5, 2020, include:
- The distinction between the Student Route (for individuals aged 18 and above) and the Child Student Route (for students aged 4-17, replacing the Tier 4 Child Student Visa).
- EU/EEA nationals must apply for a visa if they plan to enter the UK after January 1, 2021.
- Applications for a Student Visa can now be submitted up to six months before the course commencement, an extension from the previous three-month window.
- Eligibility is determined through a Point-Based System requiring a total of 70 points.
- Graduates from British educational institutions after Summer 2021 can apply for a post-graduate visa, enabling them to work or search for employment in the UK for up to 2 years.
While certain aspects, such as English proficiency and the Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS), remain consistent with the prior Tier 4 Student Visa requirements.
UK Student Visa Requirements for EU/EEA and Non-EU/EEA Nationals
If you plan to enter the UK after January 1, 2021, obtaining a Student Visa is essential. However, if you are already in the UK prior to this date, you must apply for the EU Settlement Scheme.
Eligibility for the new UK Student Visa extends to both EU/EEA and non-EU/EEA individuals, contingent on accumulating 70 points through the Point Based System. This evaluation considers the following prerequisites for studying in the UK:
- Acceptance into an accredited institution: You must possess a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) issued by the institution.
- Financial capacity: In addition to the course fee, you require £1,265 per month if studying in London or £1,015 per month if studying elsewhere. If dependents are accompanying you, an additional sum of approximately £800 per month per dependent is necessary.
- English language proficiency: A designated English Proficiency Test from an approved provider must be cleared during the visa application process. B2 level for Degree-level courses or above, and B1 for courses below Degree level.
- Course alignment: Your selected course must align with the stipulated course requirements.
UK Student Visa Course Eligibility
You qualify for a UK Student Visa if you’ve secured admission into any of the following courses:
- Full-time course below degree level (more than 15 hours per week of study), categorized as RQF levels 3, 4, or 5. This encompasses A levels, apprenticeships, or the initial two years of a Bachelor’s degree.
- Full-time course leading to a degree level or higher qualification, spanning RQF levels 6, 7, and 8 (Bachelor’s, Postgraduate, Masters, or Doctorate degree).
- Part-time course above RQF level 7 (Postgraduate, Master, or Doctorate degree).
- Approved program for postgraduate doctors or dentists.
- English language course (B2 level or above) within the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages.
Applying for a UK Student Visa
The application process for a UK Student Visa starts as early as six months prior to the commencement of your courses if you are outside the UK. Initiate the online application on the UK Government website before proceeding to a Visa Application Center in your home country to provide your biometrics.
Upon receiving an admission offer for your chosen course, your education provider will furnish a reference number known as a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies. This number must be entered during your online registration. After submitting your online application, you’ll receive guidance on further steps based on your country of residence.
Applicants for the Child Student Visa will require parental or guardian consent.
Is it Possible to Transition to a UK Student Visa?
If you’re already in the UK, you can switch to a Student Visa unless your current visa falls under any of the following categories:
- Visit visa
- Short-term student visa
- Parent of a Child’s Student visa
- Seasonal worker visa
- Domestic worker on a private household visa
- Leave outside the immigration rules
You can apply to change to the UK Student Route up to three months before your scheduled class commencement. An acceptance from an approved institution is required, and your current visa must still be valid.
Processing Time for UK Student Visa
Applying from outside the UK will yield a Student Visa decision in approximately 3 weeks. If applying from within the UK (switching to Student Visa), the processing time for your application will be around 8 weeks.
UK Student Visa Fees and Expenses The costs for a UK Student Visa are as follows:
£348 when applying from outside the UK. £475 if you’re applying to extend or switch to a Student Visa from within the UK. Separate fees are applicable for each family member accompanying you.
In addition to the visa fee, you must demonstrate sufficient funds to cover your expenses:
At least £1,265 per month if studying in London (for up to nine months). At least £1,015 per month if studying outside London (for up to nine months).
- Necessary Documents for a UK Student Visa Application When applying for a UK Student Visa, you will need the following documents:
- Valid passport.
- Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) from your educational institution.
- Proof of adequate financial means for yourself and any accompanying family members.
- An Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) certificate if relevant.
- Criminal record certificate.
- Evidence of English language proficiency.
Results of tuberculosis test.
For applicants under 18: Parental consent proof. Evidence of relationship to your parent or legal guardian. Any additional documents required during the application process, such as a cover letter for the student visa, etc.
How Long Does the UK Student Visa Remain Valid?
The duration of the UK Student Visa corresponds to the length of your enrolled course. If you are an adult participating in a degree-level program, the visa can be granted for up to five years. For those pursuing below-degree-level courses, the visa is typically issued for two years.
Is It Possible to Extend a UK Student Visa?
Certainly, you can extend your UK Student Visa, provided you are accepted into a higher-level course within the UK. The new course must be of a higher educational level than the one you have already completed. Additionally, you can apply for an extension if you already hold a Tier 4 (General) Student Visa. The application window opens no earlier than three months before the commencement of your new course.
Is It Possible to Remain in the UK After My Studies?
Absolutely, starting in the Summer of 2021, international students completing undergraduate degrees in the UK can apply for the Graduate Visa. This visa allows you to stay in the UK for up to two years after graduation while you seek employment or explore work opportunities. Ph.D. graduates can extend their stay for up to three years.
If you secure a suitable job during this period, you can transition to a different immigration category, such as a UK Work Visa.
Can I Engage in Employment with a UK Student Visa?
Certainly, international students in the UK have employment options under specific conditions. For instance, you can work as a student union sabbatical officer, although you won’t be eligible for public benefits and pensions. The type of work you can undertake in the UK while on a Student Visa depends on your field of study and whether you intend to work during the term or breaks.
Certain roles are restricted, such as professional sportspersons or sports coaches, as well as self-employment.
Can I Bring Dependents on a UK Student Visa?
Yes, you can accompany your dependent family members to the UK while pursuing your education. This includes:
Your spouse, civil partner, or unmarried partner. Your dependent children under 18 years old. Both you and your family members need to demonstrate sufficient financial resources to support your stay in the UK. Apart from meeting the financial requirements for yourself (the student), each family member should have the following funds:
£845 per month (for up to 9 months) for London courses and £680 per month (for up to 9 months) for courses outside London.
How Can Reliance Immigration Services Assist You?
With over two decades of experience, Reliance Immigration stands as a highly renowned Immigration Consultancy based in the UAE. Our expertise extends to guiding students in selecting the right universities, obtaining approvals, and successfully securing visa grants.