UK Student Visas

When you arrive in the UK, you must show certain documents and declare your intentions to study as a student to the immigration officer. You will need:

  • a valid passport
  • a visa (if you are a visa national)
  • a letter from the institution that confirms you have been accepted unconditionally for a full-time course
  • evidence that you have enough money to pay for your course.

It may take some time to get all of these documents, so you should start as early as possible by checking the website of the Visa Application Centre or the UK Border Agency - Visa Services website guidance for students.

This will enable you to find out what documents you will need, how to get them and where to get them from. Guidance information for international students is available from UKCISA (UK Council for International Student Affairs).

How do I get my UK student visa?

International students from outside the UK or EU must apply for a student visa. You can only apply for a student visa if you intend to study a full-time degree course in the UK.

Student visas are not issued for part-time courses. Your eligibility is calculated using a points-based rules system called a Tier 4 Student Visa.

You need 40 points to apply for a student visa. This is achieved by:

1. Course confirmation

You must receive a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) from a university approved by UK Visa and Immigration (UKVI).

All universities must have been given or applied for Highly Trusted Status (HTS) on the UKVI Tier 4 Sponsor list (30 points). 'A rated' colleges can also issue CAS numbers.

The 'A' rating is a transitional rating for 12 months and all 'A rated' colleges must apply for HTS status within this 12 month transition period. 

All universities on the Study London website have Highly Trusted Status (HTS). You can view the London university profiles for more information about each London university, or use the course search to find the right course for you. 

2. Funding

You must provide evidence of funding to pay for both your course tuition fees and your monthly living costs (10 points).

Tuition fees are on average £12,000 per year but can range from £8,000 to £36,000.

You will also need to show that you have £1,265 for each month of your studies (up to a maximum of nine months) to pay for living costs if you study in inner London. Therefore, if you will be studying in inner London for a course lasting nine months or more, the maximum amount that you will need is £11,385.

This applies to all students looking to study in London. You will be considered to be studying ‘in London’ if you are studying at the University of London, or at institutions wholly or partly within London, or in areas on the border of London such as parts of Essex, Hertfordshire and Surrey.

If you are not sure if your institution is considered to be in London you should check with your university before you complete your application.

Visit the UK Visa and Immigration website to check the full eligibility criteria for a UK study visa. You can also read further guidance on the UKCISA website.

3. Visa application

To submit your Tier 4 student visa application, please visit the UK Visa & Immigration website to complete the online application form.

International students from all countries (apart from North Korea) have to submit the visa application online.

You will also need to have your fingerprints and photograph (known as biometric information) taken at a visa application centre as part of your application.

4. Immigration Health Service Charge

All nationals from outside of Europe coming to live in the UK for longer than six months are required to pay a ‘health surcharge’ in order to gain access to the UK’s National Health Service (NHS).

The health surcharge is £150 per year (or £75 for 6 months or less) for students and is payable when you submit your visa application on-line.

Visa applicants need to pay up-front for the total period of their UK visa. For further information, read our Health Advice for International Students.

Remember, you can only apply for a visa once you have been given a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies.

Check you are eligible for a UK Student Visa but do not apply until after you have been accepted onto a course. Your chosen university can guide you through the visa process once you have been accepted onto a course.

What happens if I do not require a visa?

If you are not a visa national, you do not need a visa to come into the UK, but you may need an entry clearance.

You may also want to contact the Visa Application Centre (VAC) in the country where you live, or where no VAC is in operation, the British Embassy or High Commission, to confirm that you will be able to come to the UK as a student.

You can read more information over at UKCISA immigration.

Can I work while I am studying in the UK?

You can work for up to 20 hours a week during your studies and full-time during your holidays to help support your studies. This only applies if you are studying a degree level course at a UK higher education institution for longer than 6 months.

The university or college must be listed on the Highly Trusted Sponsor (HTS) list and the list of recognised bodies. Find out more information about working in the UK during your studies and after you've completed your course.

When can I apply for a visa?

You will need to be offered the Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) from your chosen university before you can apply for a visa.

You can only apply for your visa three months before the start date of your course. This means, if your course starts at the end of September, you will receive your CAS around the end of June.

Can my family come to the UK with me?

You can bring your partner and children to the UK as your Tier 4 dependant if you are a government-sponsored student and your course is longer than six months or you are doing a postgraduate level course of 12 months or longer at a publicly-funded Higher Education Institution or a 'recognised body'.

You cannot bring your family to the UK as a Tier 4 dependant if you are studying an English language course, a course which is below degree level or an undergraduate course (except if you are a government-sponsored student).

For further information, visit the UKCISA website.

How much does the Tier 4 student visa cost?

If you are applying from outside the UK, the cost of the visa is £335 (plus the Immigration Health Service Charge).

If you are already in the UK, you can apply for the standard service for £457, for the priority service for £916 or for the premium service for £1047. The Immigration Health Service Charge will be in addition to these costs.

What if I have further questions about student visas?

All universities should have trained visa advisors who are able to answer your questions about the Tier 4 student visa and guide you through the application process.

You can contact the universities directly through their website.

Further information

For more tips and advice on coming to the UK to study, please see: