The visa application process is a crucial aspect of the journey to study abroad. Once you’ve received an acceptance letter from your chosen university, the next essential step is applying for your Visa. For higher education in the United Kingdom, you’ll need to submit a specific set of documents to complete the student visa application process. This blog aims to provide you with a comprehensive understanding of the UK visa application process, guiding you through it step by step.
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What is a UK Student Visa?
The UK student visa application, also known as the Tier 4 (General) visa, allows international students to study in the United Kingdom. To apply, students typically need a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) from a licensed UK institution, proof of financial capability to cover tuition and living expenses, and evidence of English proficiency. The visa also permits students to work part-time during term-time (up to 20 hours per week) and full-time during official vacation periods. Additionally, applicants must meet health and character requirements. The UK student visa is a vital step for pursuing higher education in the UK and offers opportunities for international students to enrich their academic experience.
Types of Student Visas in the UK
The United Kingdom welcomes students from across the world to pursue their choice of program in the country. Apart from SOP, LORs, and other relevant documents, an important pre-requisite to enter the country is the student visa. There are 3 types of UK Study Visas which vary based on age as well as the duration and type of program opted for. Tabulated below are the details and the timeline to start your UK visa application process.
|Type of Visa||Courses||Application Timeline|
|Tier 4 (General) Student Visa||Courses with a duration of 6 months or more
English language courses which run for more than 11 months
|At least 3 months before the start of your course|
|Short-term Study Visa||It is for those students who
have been accepted for
studying English language courses that run for less than
|At least 3 months prior to the start of your program|
|Tier 4 (Child) Student Visa||Students between the age
of 4 to 17 who have taken admitted to a UK-based institution with a valid
Tier 4 sponsor
|Minimum 3 months before the commencement of the program|
Also Read: UK Tier 4 Visa: Meaning, Checklist
UK Student Visa Eligibility Criteria
When it comes to the eligibility for obtaining the Tier 4 student visa, here are the major details you must consider before you start with your UK visa application:
- You must be 16 years or above in age.
- You should have received an unconditional offer letter from a recognized academic institution in the UK with a licensed Tier 4 sponsor.
- You are able to speak, read, and write fluently in English. However, to prove the same, you will have to present English proficiency test scores.
- Bank statements stating the availability of funds to pay for your chosen program.
- You must not belong to Switzerland or non-EEA countries.
Knowledge of the English Language
The most important requisite for applying for UK Visas is the knowledge of English. Students must know how to communicate well in English. To prove their proficiency in English, they have to submit scores on proficiency tests like IELTS or TOEFL.
The application process for a UK student visa entails multiple steps. Applications for UK study visas are handled within three weeks after they are submitted in full.
Checking whether you are eligible for a student visa is the first step. You must demonstrate that you have:
- A reserved spot at the college, institution, or school you plan to attend. A “confirmation of acceptance for studies” is what is called (CAS).
- Enough money (sometimes referred to as “maintenance or finances”) to pay for your tuition and living expenses while studying in the UK.
Check the type of visa you will need to study in the UK. Your required visa type will depend on where you come from as well as the course or degree you are going to pursue. Also, prepare your paperwork accordingly in the meantime.
Apply Online. To obtain a UK Visa, you must register and set up an account on the official website. You must print and sign your completed online application after you’ve finished filling it out. To make a reservation at the visa application facility, use the online appointment calendar. You will get an email with your application number once you have finished your online application.
Pay your application fee. You can pay for your visa application fee in 4 different ways.
- Payment at Standard Chartered Bank- A few Standard Chartered Bank locations are where you can make your fee payment. A demand draught in the name of “The British High Commission” will be issued by the bank.
- Demand Draft from a nationalized or foreign bank- To pay your charge, you might obtain a demand draught from a nationalized or foreign bank. There may be a fee from the bank for this service. The “British High Commission” must be named as the beneficiary of the demand draught.
- Payment at the visa application centre – When you submit your visa application, you can pay the visa application fee there.
- Pay online – You can use a credit or debit card from Visa or MasterCard to pay your visa application fee online.
On the scheduled date, visit the visa application centre. For the purpose of submitting your application, a facial photograph, and fingerprints, you must schedule and keep an appointment at the visa application centre.
Also, if you have completed your previous education let’s say Bachelor’s in the UK and are now applying for a Master’s program then the procedure of applying from inside the UK is slightly different. Apart from other documents, you will also have to present your academic progress as a student in UK.
Do you know, What is Post Study Work Visa in UK?
UK Tier-4 Visa Fee
In order to complete your Tier-4, UK Visa application process, you need to submit a fee of £490. The fee is the same for visa applications or extensions. Furthermore, if you will be accompanied by any other individual or a dependant, then you have to pay an additional £490 per person. While applying for a UK visa, you will also have to submit a healthcare surcharge as well. This amount depends upon various factors like;
- Start and end dates as mentioned in your CAS letter.
- University in which you are enrolled.
- Your state of domicile.
- Your visa route.
- Type and level of the degree you wish to pursue.
- Whether you are applying fresh or for an extension.
- Your age and if there are any dependants or caretakers.
When to Apply?
Indian students who wish to apply for a student visa to pursue higher education in the UK must apply for the visa 6 months before they start their course. The decision is given out usually in 3 weeks. Once the visa has been granted, the tenure of stay depends on the length of the course. If the course is at a degree level, one can usually stay in the UK for up to 5 years. If it’s below degree level, one can stay in the UK for up to 2 years.
In order to complete the UK visa application process for obtaining a Tier 4 student visa, it is essential to submit a list of documents as specified by the Government of the UK.
- Coloured passport-size photograph
- A valid passport
- The Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) reference number along with other documents required to obtain CAS.
- Proof of financial stability
- Assessment documentation
Check all you need to know about the UK Student Visa 2023-24
UK Student Visa Processing Time
It is always advised to apply for a UK student visa at least 3 months before the start of the course. The minimum processing time for the visa is about 21 days. Therefore, the candidates can expect to get a decision on their visa application within this time limit. In order to avoid any delay in processing time the students must ensure that they have submitted the correct application with the right documents.
UK Student Visa Part-time Work
International students must be aware of the strict working restrictions imposed by their university, which often surpass the 20-hour weekly work limit permitted on a student visa for full-time degree-level studies during term-time. According to the Home Office 20-hour weekly cap includes both paid and unpaid part-time jobs in the UK. Moreover, you cannot take an average period to justify this duration. However, students can work full-time during official vacation periods, which vary by academic level and course type. Postgraduate research students have continuous academic years, making full-time work during summers unlikely. Working after thesis submission depends on the examination stage, with specifics provided below.
On a UK Student Visa for full-time degree-level studies, you are allowed to work a maximum of 20 hours per week during term-time. This includes both paid and unpaid work and cannot be averaged over a longer period.
Yes, you can work full-time during official vacation periods while on a UK Student Visa for full-time degree-level studies. However, be sure to check the specific vacation dates for your level of study and course type.
Postgraduate research students have a continuous academic year, typically from October 1st to September 30th. This means that full-time work during the summer period may not be possible. Exceptions for part-time work can be discussed with your supervisor, but working after thesis submission depends on the examination stage.
Hence, when it comes to completing the UK visa application process, one needs to collect and submit documents well in advance in order to avoid any last-minute hurdles. Applying for a Visa can be a tedious task. Let the experts at Leverage Edu help you in not only preparing the documents but also preparing you for the Visa interview!