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)
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)
Many international students in the UK take a part-time job, work placement or internship alongside their studies. For most courses, you will be allowed to work for up to 20 hours per week during term time. Before you consider looking for work, check your visa and biometric residence permit and check your university’s rules to see if there are any restrictions to the type of work or number of hours you can do.
European students: If you do decide to do part-time work in the UK, this could impact your eligibility for a refund on your Immigration Health Surcharge payment, so make sure you consider all of this when thinking about if you plan to work alongside your studies in the UK.
Find out more about the hours and types of work you can do on the UKCISA website.
UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) published an update in October 2023, detailing that the following students are allowed to have dependants with them in the UK:
students who have financial sponsorship from a government to study a course lasting 6 months or longer
students studying above degree level at a higher education provider with a track record of compliance on a course lasting 9 months or longer and, if the course start date is on or after 1 January 2024, the provider has confirmed the course is a PhD or other doctoral qualification, or a research-based higher degree
students who have permission, or had permission within the last 3 months to study on a full-time course of 6 months or longer, and who are now applying for permission to study a full-time course of 6 months or longer where either: the partner or child applying has been the student’s dependant in that period or the child applying was born since the last grant of permission to the student, and they are applying at the same time as the student or the dependant partner
Note: students whose child was born in a timeframe set out at Appendix Student ST 31.2 are allowed to have that child as a dependant with them in the UK.
In order to be eligible to bring dependants on a scholarship, the scholarship must be:
a government-funded scholarship
from a central government department
covering all fees and living costs for the student
Updates regarding immigration and visa rules were announced on 4 December by the Home Secretary. And, on 21 December 2023, further details were published about changes that might affect individuals already in the UK. Until immigration rules are officially updated, current thresholds and policies above remain in place.
The date your student visa ends depends on the length of your course. Make sure you know when your visa is due to expire so you can plan your next steps accordingly.
You may be able to extend your student visa if you’re eligible, for example, to continue your studies in the UK. You may also be able to switch to another type of visa if you want to stay and work in the UK.
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.
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.