Student Visa

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STUDENT VISA

The UK Student Visa route enables individuals who are aged 16 or over to undertake a further or higher education course in the UK with a Home Office licenced education provider.

Individuals aged between 4 and 17 years, who wish to study at an independent school in the UK, must apply for a Child Student Visa.

Requirements for a UK Student Visa

To qualify for a UK Student Visa you will need to satisfy the following eligibility criteria:

  • You are aged 16 or over;
  • You have received an unconditional placement on an approved course of study with a licensed student sponsor;
  • You can speak, write, read  and understand English to at least CEFR Level B2 (if studying at degree level or above) or CEFR Level B1 (if studying at below degree level);
  • You have sufficient funds to support yourself and pay for your course fees without relying on public funds;
  • You have the consent of your parent(s) or legal guardian if you are 16 or 17 years old to live and study in the UK;

The specific requirements, that may be applicable to you, will differ depending on your circumstances. You may wish to seek expert advice from an immigration lawyer.

If you wish to apply for a UK Student Visa, speak to one of our specialised immigration lawyers for expert advice by completing our “Enquiry Form”.

Course of Study Requirements

In order to qualify for a UK student visa, you must choose a course of study that meets the following requirements:

  • A full-time course of study that can result in a qualification below degree level (RQF level 3, 4 or 5) with at least 15 hours per week of organised daytime study;
  • A full-time course of study that could result in a qualification at degree level or above (RQF level 6, 7 or 8);
  • A full-time course of study that is at degree level or above (RQF level 6,7 or 8), that is equivalent to a UK higher education course and is being delivered as part of a longer course overseas;
  • A part-time course of study that will result in a qualification that is above degree level (RQF level 7 or above);
  • A recognised foundation programme for postgraduate doctors or dentists;
  • An English language course at level B2 or above in the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages.

You can also apply for a UK Student Visa if you wish to extend your stay on the Doctorate Extension Scheme, but to do so you must have existing leave in the UK as a Student and you must demonstrate that your course of study will lead to a PhD.

Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS)

Once you have secured an unconditional place on a course of study, your licenced education provider will send you a reference number called a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS).

A valid Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) must meet the following requirements:

  • The Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) must have been issued by an education provider with a valid sponsor licence;
  • The Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) must not have been issued more than 6 months before the date of the student visa application;
  • The Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) must not have been used in a previous application which was either granted or refused (but could have been relied upon in a previous application which was rejected as invalid, made void or withdrawn);
  • The offer of study made to the Applicant by the student sponsor must not have been withdrawn after issuing the Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS);
  • The Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies must contain the necessary information including details of the course to be studied, the level of study, the place of study, the cost of accommodation and fees (and any payments already made) and how the English language requirement has been met.

Level of study requirement for a Student

If the Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies has been assigned by a probationary sponsor, the course must meet one of the following requirements unless it is a pre-sessional course: 

  • the course will be studied in England, Wales or Northern Ireland, and the applicant is aged under 18, and the course is at Regulated Qualifications Framework level 3 or above; or 
  • the course will be studied in England, Wales or Northern Ireland, and the applicant is aged 18 or over, and the course is at Regulated Qualifications Framework level 4 or above; or 
  • the course will be studied in Scotland, and the applicant is aged under 18, and the course is at Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework level 6 or above; or 
  • the course will be studied in Scotland, and the applicant is aged 18 or over and the course is at Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework level 7 or above. 

If the Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies has been assigned by a student sponsor, the course must meet one of the following requirements: 

  • the course will be studied in England, Wales or Northern Ireland and it is at Regulated Qualifications Framework level 3 or above; or 
  • the course will be studied in Scotland and it is at Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework level 6 or above; or 
  • the course is a short-term study abroad programme in the UK as part of the applicant’s qualification at an overseas higher education institution outside of the UK, and that qualification is recognised as being at UK bachelor’s degree level or above by UK NARIC; or 
  • the course is a pre-sessional course in English language at level B2 or above of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages; or 
  • the course is a recognised Foundation Programme for postgraduate doctors or dentists; or 
  • the course is being delivered under a partnership between a higher education institution and a research institute and is accredited at Regulated Qualifications Framework level 7 or above, or at Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework Level 11 or above. 

UK Student Visa Financial Requirements

To qualify for a UK Student Visa, you will need to demonstrate to the UK Visas & Immigration that you have sufficient funds to support yourself financially in the UK without recourse tom public funds. 

Course Fees

If you are applying for a course of study from outside the UK or if you are applying from within the UK but have been resident in the UK for less than 12 months, you will need to demonstrate that you have sufficient funds to pay the course fee for one academic year of the course or for the entire course (if it is less than a year long). 

Students who are differentiated nationals will generally not be required to demonstrate evidence of course fees. 

If you have lived in the UK with valid for 12 months or more at the date of your student visa application, you will not be required to demonstrate that you have sufficient funds to pay your course fees. You are still required to settle your course fees as agreed with your licenced sponsor. 

The amount you will need to pay in respect of your course fees will be confirmed on your Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS). If you have paid all or part of your course fees in advance, the CAS will confirm this. 

English language requirement for a Student

You must demonstrate English language ability on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages in all 4 components (reading, writing, speaking and listening) of at least: 

  • level B2, where the applicant is studying a course at UK bachelor’s degree level or above; or 
  • level B1, where the applicant is studying a pre-sessional course or a course below UK bachelor’s degree level. 

You must show they meet the English language requirement as specified in Appendix English Language. Where the student sponsor has assessed that you meet the English language requirement, they must state this and the method of assessment on the Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies. 

Where a Secure English Language Test is required, the name of the test provider, the unique reference number for the test and the score for each component tested (reading, writing, listening, speaking) must be included on the Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies. 

Genuine Student Rule

In addition to meeting the eligibility requirements of a UK Student Visa application, you will also need to demonstrate to the UK Visas & Immigration that you are a genuine student. The UK Visas & Immigration may invite you for an interview after considering your application to satisfy themselves that you are a genuine student.

You may be asked question relating to your past academic education, your future academic plans, your anticipated career path and how your planned course of study progresses your goals. You may also be asked questions about your immigration history.

The UK Visas & Immigration will reach their decision after considering a number of factors such as your credibility, your past immigration history, your past education and your future plans.

Approved qualification requirement for a Student

You must demonstrate to the UK Visas & Immigration that the course of study, unless it is a pre-sessional course, will lead to an approved qualification which is one of the following:

  • validated by Royal Charter; or
  • awarded by a UK recognised body; or
  • covered by a legal agreement between a UK recognised body and another education provider or awarding body, which confirms both:
    • the UK recognised body’s independent assessment of the level of the student sponsor’s or awarding body’s programme compared to the Regulated Qualifications Framework or its equivalents; and
    • that the UK recognised body would admit any student who successfully completes the education provider’s or the awarding body’s named course onto a specific or a range of degree-level courses it provides; or
  • recognised by one or more recognised bodies through a formal articulation agreement with the awarding body; or
  • in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, is at Regulated Qualifications Framework level 3 or above; or in Scotland is accredited at Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework level 6 or above; or
  • an overseas qualification that UK NARIC assesses as valid and equivalent to Regulated Qualifications Framework level 3 or above; or
  • an aviation licence, rating or certificate issued by the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority.

Academic Progress requirement for a Student

If you are currently on a UK Student Visa or were previously granted a Student Visa, and are applying for a fresh Student Visa, you must demonstrate that you successfully completed your previous course of study in the UK for which you were granted a Student Visa.

You will be exempt from meeting the academic progress requirements in the following circumstances:

  • You are applying for a Student Visa to re-sit examinations or repeat modules; or
  • You have previously re-sat examinations or repeated modules and are presently applying for a Student Visa to complete the course for which those examinations were re-sat or modules repeated; or
  • You are applying for a UK Student Visa to continue studying with your current licenced sponsor for the purpose of completing the PhD or other doctoral qualification for which you undertook during your last period of stay as a Student; or
  • You are applying to move to a new licenced sponsor to complete a course of study you commenced with another licenced sponsor that has subsequently had its licence revoked by the Home Office; or
  • You are applying to undertake a role as a Student Union Sabbatical Officer; or
  • After undertaking a period as a Student Union Sabbatical Officer, you are applying to complete the qualification for which the Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies was assigned before that period; or
  • You are applying for a Student Visa to stay under the Doctorate Extension Scheme or as a postgraduate doctor or dentist on a recognised Foundation Programme; or
  • You are applying for leave as a student to pursue an intercalated bachelor’s or master’s degree course or PhD where you are studying medicine, veterinary medicine and science, or dentistry as your principal course of study, or to complete your principal course, having completed a period of intercalation; or
  • You are applying to undertake a study abroad programme or work placement which is both integral to and assessed as part of the course, or to complete your course, having completed a study abroad programme or work placement.

Maximum period of study requirement for a Student

If you are applying to undertake a course of study that is below degree level, you can only be granted a student visa valid for up to two years.

You may be granted more than three years of leave as a student if the course is below degree level but is subject to a regulatory requirement by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency that you must spend at least 12 months at sea as a part of that course.

If you are applying for a course of study that is at degree level, you can only be granted a maximum of 5 years of leave as a student unless you have a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies that has been assigned for a course of study in one of the following subjects:

  • architecture; or
  • medicine; or
  • dentistry; or
  • veterinary medicine and science; or
  • music at a music college that is a member of Conservatoires UK; or
  • law, where the applicant has completed a course at degree level or above and is applying for a course of study which is:
  • a law conversion course validated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority and the Bar Standards Board in England and Wales; or
    • a Masters in Law (MLaw) in Northern Ireland; or
    • an accelerated graduate LLB in Scotland.

If you have previously been granted permission as a postgraduate doctor or dentist, you can only be granted permission to stay in the UK for a maximum of 3 years as a postgraduate doctor or dentist.

When calculating the period of permission granted by the UK Visas & Immigration, any period of permission as a Student extended under section 3C of the Immigration Act 1971 will count towards the period of permission granted.

Parental consent requirement for a Student

If you are aged 16 or 17, you must have written consent from either (i) both parents, (ii) one parent (if that parent has sole legal responsibility for the applicant) or (iii) your legal guardian. 

The written consent must confirm support for your application, your living and care arrangements in the UK, and if you are applying for entry clearance, your travel to, and reception arrangements in, the UK.

Duration Of Grant Of Student Visa

If your application is successful, you will be granted leave for the duration of your course of study as specified on the Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) plus the relevant periods.

You will be granted a period of leave as a student depending on the type and length of the course of study you will undertake as set out in the table below:

Course of Study

Period granted before course start date

Period granted after course end date

A course lasting 12 months or longer

1 Month

4 Months

A course lasting 6 months or longer but shorter than 12 months

1 Month

2 Months

A pre-sessional course lasting less than 6 months

1 Month

1 Month 

A course as a Postgraduate doctor or dentist

1 Month

1 Month

A course of less than 6 months in length which is not a pre-sessional course

7 Days

7 Days

 

Study Visa Work Conditions

If you are successful in securing a UK Student Visa, you will be permitted to work in the UK, the extent of which will depend on your circumstances.

If you are following a full-time course at degree level or above sponsored by a licenced higher education provider, you will eb permitted to take up to 20 hours of work per week during term time. You will be permitted to take up full-time employment outside of term time. All other studies including part-time studies does not carry the right to work in the UK.

If you are granted leave as a student, you will be permitted to take up employment in the following circumstances:

  • Work related to a work placement, assessed as an integral part of your course of study;
  • Employment as an elected Student Union Sabbatical Officer or elected National Union of Students (NUS) position is permitted for up to 2 years if the Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies was assigned for this purpose;
  • Where you have successfully completed a PhD at a higher education provider and have been granted permission to stay as a Student on the Doctorate Extension Scheme or have made a valid application for permission to stay as a Student on the Doctorate Extension Scheme but you have not yet received a decision on that application, you will be permitted to work in any role, except for employment as a professional sportsperson (including as a sports coach).

If you are staying in the UK as a Student, you are not allowed to do any of the following:

  • Engage in self-employment or in business activity unless you have been granted permission to stay as a Student on the Doctorate Extension Scheme;
  • Work as a professional sportsperson (including as a sports coach); or
  • Work as an entertainer unless ST 26.4. applies; or
  • Work in a position which would fill a permanent full-time vacancy unless you have been granted permission to stay as a Student on the Doctorate Extension Scheme;

If you bare staying in the UK as a student and have applied for leave under the Skilled Worker route, supported by a Certificate of Sponsorship assigned by a licensed sponsor, you will be able to start the employment for which the Certificate of Sponsorship was assigned, for up to 3 months prior to the course completion date, provided:

  • You are studying a full-time course of study at degree level or above with a higher education provider with a track record of compliance; and
  • You applied as a Skilled Worker when you had permission as a Student; and
  • a decision has not been made on the Skilled Worker application, or where a decision has been made, any Administrative Review against a refusal has not been finally determined.

As a Student Migrant, you may be employed as a postgraduate doctor or dentist if you are on a recognised Foundation Programme.

As a UK Student may be self-employed, if:

  • You have applied for permission on the Start-up route; and
  • that application is supported by an endorsement from a Start-up route endorsing body which is a higher education provider with a track record of compliance; and
  • the application was made when you had permission as a Student; and
  • a decision has not been made on the application, or where the application has been refused, any Administrative Review against a refusal has not been finally determined.

Dependent family members of Students

If you have leave to enter/ or remain in the UK as a student, you may be able to sponsor your partner or dependent child to the UK if you meet the following requirements:

  • You are a full-time student on a postgraduate level course (RQF level 7 or above) that at least 9 months;
  • You are a new government-sponsored student engaged on a course of study that lasts more than 6 months;
  • You are a Doctorate Extension Scheme student.

Your dependent part or dependent child must demonstrate to the UKVI that they each have either £845 a month (for up to 9 months) available to them if you are studying a course in London or £680 a month (for up to 9 months) available to them if you are studying a course outside London. They must show that they have held the relevant funds for at least 28 days ending no more than 31 days before the date of the dependent visa application. 

If your dependent partner and children have lived in the UK with valid leave for at least 12 months or if they are from a country listed under the ‘differential evidence requirement’ (and are applying at the same time as you), they do not need to satisfy the maintenance funds requirement.

Switching to a Student Visa

You will be able to switch to a student visa if you are currently living in the UK with valid leave. You will not, however, be able to switch to a student visa if you have been granted as a Visitor, Short-term Student, Parent of a Child Student, Seasonal Worker, a Domestic Worker in a Private Household, outside the Immigration Rules.

How our lawyers can help you with your UK Student Visa Application

Our lawyers are specialists in UK immigration law with almost a decade of experience. We have assisted hundreds of UK Student Visa applicants to prepare and submit successful UK Student Visa applications.

Our immigration lawyers can provide you expert advice on meeting the requirements of the Immigration Rules, carry out a detailed assessment of your prospects of qualifying for a UK Student Visa and can assist you with the preparation and submission of your immigration application.

Our lawyers combine creative energy with deep technical legal expertise to uncover innovative, out-of-the-box and unconventional strategies that help you succeed in your application even when you’re facing inherent challenges in meeting the requirements of a UK Student Visa.

We do this by deploying the following:

  • Taking a holistic approach to analysing every facet of each case and formulating strategies to comprehensively address every element of the case;
  • Bringing deep technical and substantive legal expertise;
  • Collaborative strategizing among specialist lawyers, who operate at different levels of seniority, bringing a wealth of technical expertise, tactical know-how and diversity of perspective on your matter;
  • Using Design Thinking to reframe the challenges you face with a view to redefining value and opening up the scope of solutions;
  • Designing customised strategy to meet your specific challenges.

What this means for you?

If you instruct us to take on your case, our scope of work will comprise of the following:

  • Taking detailed instructions to carry out a thorough analysis of your case;
  • Assessing your eligibility for a UK Student Visa in line with the requirements as set out in the Immigration Rules: Appendix Student (https://www.gov.uk/guidance/immigration-rules/appendix-student), the accompanying Policy Documents and the wider case-law jurisprudence;
  • Notifying you of the strengths and weaknesses of your case;
  • Advising you on strategies, where possible, to remedy the weaknesses in your case and better evidence the strengths of your case;
  • Providing you detailed and customised advice on the documents you need to provide in support of your application;
  • Reviewing your documents to assess whether they meet the evidential requirements of your application and to advise you if further documents are required;
  • Drafting the application form to provide to you for review and, if required, amending the application in line with your observations;
  • Preparing a detailed letter of representations to be submitted in support of your application;
  • Submitting the application form online and arranging an appointment for the enrolment of your biometrics;
  • Responding to any queries from the Home Office regarding your application
  • Addressing any queries that you may have regarding your application and any issues arising relating to your immigration status;
  • Corresponding with the UK Visas and Immigration (Home Office) to ensure a timely decision on your application.
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