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 here on GOV.UK.

Your student visa will allow you to live and study in the UK throughout your course.

If you attend a pre-departure briefing in your home country, you will pick up more handy tips on your visa application. British Council holds pre-departure briefings in many countries. To find out more about these events in your home country, go to the British Council website and select your country from the drop-down menu.

Types of student visa

Student visa (previously Tier 4 visa)

If you are 16 or over and want to study at higher education level, you’ll need to apply for a student visa through the Student Route. From 5 October 2020, the Student Route has replaced the Tier 4 Route. The Student Route falls under the UK's new points-based immigration system.

Visas that have been issued through the Tier 4 Route are still valid, and those eligible will be able to apply for the Graduate Route when it opens in summer 2021.

You need to wait until you have an offer from a university or college before applying for a visa. Your university or college will then be able to give you a document called a Confirmation of Acceptance of Studies (CAS). To do this, your chosen institution needs to be approved by the UK government as a licenced sponsor.

You will need to complete an application and have it accepted before you arrive in the UK.

You will need to pay an application fee (£348 for students) and have a current passport or other valid travel document.

You will also need to pay a fee called an Immigration Health Surcharge. This gives you access to the UK’s National Health Service. Students receive a 25 per cent discount on the usual cost of this surcharge – so the rate for student visa holders is £470 per year. 

You can apply for a student visa up to six months before your course starts. 

Find out more about student visas on the GOV.UK website

The UK government has also published guidance for EU students on the points-based immigration system. Find out more about studying in the UK as an EU student here.

Short-term student route (previously short-term study visas)

Short-term student route visas are available to students who want to join courses that are up to six months long or English language courses up to 11 months long.

Find out more about the short-term student route.

Other types of visa

If you're aged between four and 17 years old and you want to study at school in the UK, you can find out more about child study route here.

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

Can I work in the UK on a study visa?

Many international students in the UK take a part-time job, work placement or internship alongside their studies. The hours and type of work you do will depend on the type of visa and your sponsoring university or college.

Find out more about the hours and types of work you can do on the UKCISA website.

Where can I find the latest updates?

If you are looking for the latest updates and advice about visas in light of Covid-19, visit our dedicated page for starting your degree in 2020-21.