A group of students walking along a street in the UK

Student visas

Most international students need a student visa to study in the UK. Finding out whether you need a visa to study is easy, simply check the UK government website.

Your visa will allow you to live and study in the UK for the duration of your course.

Applying for your student visa

If you are 16 or over and want to study a course at higher education level in the UK lasting longer than six months, you will most likely need to apply for a student visa through the Student Route.

This costs £490 per applicant. If you want a priority or super-priority service, it will cost more.

Follow this step-by-step guide to applying for your student visa:

Step 1: apply to your chosen university and receive an unconditional offer

Apply to your chosen university (or universities) and receive an unconditional offer.

Step 2: get your Certificate of Acceptance of Studies (CAS)

Once you have received your unconditional offer, and you have accepted it, your university will give you a document called a Certificate of Acceptance of Studies (or CAS). This will cost £25.

Step 3: begin the application process

Once you have your CAS, you can begin the visa application process. You can apply for your student visa up to six months before your course starts. You must pay an application fee (£490 for students) and have a current passport.

European students: If you’re from an EU country, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland, you can use the UK Immigration: ID Check app on a smartphone to complete the identity stage of your application.

Step 4: calculate your fee and pay the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS)

As part of your application, if you will stay in the UK and study for more than six months, you will need to pay a fee called an Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS).

The surcharge for a student visa will be a fee of £776 per year for each full year you are in the UK. Where your stay in the UK includes part of a year, you would be charged £388 for periods of 1-6 months and £776 for periods of 6-12 months.

The amount you have to pay depends on how much leave you’re granted. You can find out how much you will be expected to pay by using the fee calculator on the UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) website.

European students: if you have a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), you may be able to apply for a refund for the cost of the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS). Check the GOV.UK website to find out if you are eligible to do so. Please also note that deciding to do paid part-time work in the UK during your studies could impact your eligibility for a refund, so consider this before requesting the refund.

Step 5: prove your knowledge of the English language (if required)

As part of your student visa application, you may need to prove your knowledge of the English language. Different universities have different requirements, so check what form of English language evidence you will need with your university.

Step 6: complete your application and have it accepted before you arrive in the UK

You must complete your application and have it accepted before you arrive in the UK.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

Other types of visa

Visitor Route

If you’re studying in the UK at an accredited institution for less than six months, you can do this as a visitor. Many students (including those from the European Union and other eligible countries) won’t need a visa for courses lasting less than six months.

Students from some countries must apply for a standard visitor visa to do a short course in the UK. Check if you need a visa to study in the UK. A standard six-month visitor visa will cost £115.

If someone you know is coming to visit you on holiday to the UK, they may need to apply for a visitor visa. Find out more about a visitor visa.

Short-term Student Route

Short-term student visas are available to students who want to study English language courses that are between six and 11 months long. Find out more about the short-term study visa.

Child Student Route

If you're aged between four and 17 years old, you can apply for a child student visa to study at a school in the UK. Find out more about child study visas.

Need support with your student visa or anything related?

Contact your university's international office. Your university will advise you about your visa application, so if you have any questions, feel free to contact your university's international office for support. Some universities have dedicated immigration advisors that are on hand to support international students with their visa applications.

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