What is a UK Student Visa?
The Student Visa has replaced the Tier 4 (General) Student Visa. A Student Visa allows international students to study an eligible course with an approved student sponsor in the UK.
Individuals aged under 16 must apply for a Child Student visa if they wish to study in the UK.
If an applicant is successful in their application, then they will either receive 2 or 5 years leave in the UK. The exact amount of leave granted is dependent on the course.
What are the requirements for a UK Student Visa?
To be eligible to apply for a UK Student Visa, you must meet the following requirements:
- Have received an unconditional offer to study a course with a licensed student sponsor.
- Are studying an eligible course.
- Have a 'Confirmation of Acceptance' for Studies reference number.
- Have enough money to support themselves.
- £1,334 (per month) for up to 9 months for courses in London.
- £1,023 (per month) for up to 9 months for courses outside of London.
- Read, write, speak and understand English to the required standard (unless exempt).
The English language requirement for the UK Student Visa
The English language requirement for the UK Student Visa depends on the level of study in question. The table below outlines to what level you must read, write, speak and understand English in accordance with what you are studying in the UK.
Level of study in the UK
English language requirements
Degree level of above
Equivalent to level B2 on the CEFR scale
Below degree level
Equivalent to level B1 on the CEFR scale
Who does not need to meet the English language requirement?
You may be exempt from meeting the English language requirement for a Student Visa if you are a national of one of the specified countries or territories, or if you hold a degree from an institution located in one of those countries or territories that is considered equivalent to a UK degree:
- Antigua and Barbuda
- The Bahamas
- British Overseas Territories
- New Zealand
- St Kitts and Nevis
- St Lucia
- St Vincent and the Grenadines
- Trinidad and Tobago
Additionally, if you meet one of the following you are also not required to prove your knowledge of English:
- You are a national of Canada
- You are applying to come to the UK for a study abroad programme as part of a university degree course in the USA
- You have already proved your level of English in a previous visa application
Want to know more?
What courses qualify for a UK Student Visa?
To be eligible for a UK Student Visa, you must have received an unconditional offer to study a course in the UK which is one of the following:
- A full-time course which will result in a qualification that is below degree level (i.e. RQF level 3, 4 or 5). There must be at least 15 hours a week of organised daytime study.
- A full-time course which will result in a qualification that is degree level or above (i.e. RQF level 6, 7 or 8).
- A full-time course which will result in a qualification that is degree level or above (i.e. RQF level 6, 7 or 8) which is the equivalent to a UK higher education course and will be delivered as part of a longer course overseas.
- A part-time course which will result in a qualification that is above degree level (i.e. above RQF level 7).
- A recognised foundation programme for postgraduate doctors or dentists.
- An English language course that is level B2 or above on the CEFR scale.
To be eligible for a Student Visa, you will be required to demonstrate that you have enough money to support yourself while in the UK. As part of this, you will be required to show that:
- You have £1,334 per month (for up to 9 months) if you are studying a course in London.
- You have £1,023 per month (for up to 9 months) if you are studying a course outside of London.
To meet the financial requirement for your visa application, you must have held the required funds in your bank account continuously for 28 days, and the end date of this 28-day period must fall within 31 days of the date on which you submit your visa application.
Required documents for a UK Student Visa
As part of the application process for a Student Visa, you will be required to provide the following:
- A current passport of another valid travel document.
- A Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies from your course provider.
Depending on your circumstance, you may be required to provide the following as part of your application (this is not a comprehensive list):
- Evidence that you are able to financially support yourself in the UK.
- A valid ATAS certificate if your course or nationality requires it.
- Evidence of consent from your parent or guardian if you are under 18.
- Evidence of your relationship with your parents or guardian if you are under 18.
- TB test results.
- If you have received financial sponsorship for your course fees and living expenses within the past 12 months, you will need to provide written consent from your sponsor for your Visa application.
The UK Student Visa Application Process
How much does a UK Student Visa cost?
A UK Student Visa costs £490 if you are applying from outside of the UK.
If you are applying to either switch to, or extend your UK Student visa from inside the UK then the application fee is £490.
As part of the application process, you will be required to pay the immigration health surcharge which stands at £624 per year.
How to apply for a UK Student Visa?
You must apply online for a UK Student Visa.
As part of the application process, you will be required to provide supporting documents and you will need to have your Certificate of Acceptance of Studies (CAS) to hand. You will also be required to prove your identity which can be done by either using the UK Immigration: ID Check app or by attending a biometrics appointment at a visa application centre.
How long is a Student Visa valid?
The amount of leave in the UK which is granted by a Student Visa is dependent on the course length and how much study has already been completed in the UK.
Can a UK Student Visa get extended?
Yes, a UK Student Visa can get extended providing that the eligibility requirements are met.
How long can you stay in the UK after your Student Visa expires?
You must leave the UK by the expiry date of your Student Visa unless you have submitted an in-time application to extend your stay in the UK or switch to another visa.
If you remain in the UK after your Student Visa has expired and you have not submitted an in-time application to extend your stay or switch to another visa, then you will have overstayed your visa. Overstaying your visa can create implications for future visa applications.
Dependents and the Student Visa
Eligible individuals who may bring their dependents (partner and children) to the UK include:
- Full-time students studying a postgraduate level course (or higher) which lasts for 9 months or longer.
- New government-sponsored students pursuing a course which lasts for 6 months or longer.
- Doctorate Extension Scheme students.
It is important to note that your dependents must be eligible to apply as your dependents.
Please note that from January 2024, only postgraduate students who are studying a course which is classified as a research program will be able to bring their dependents to the UK. The exact date that this will come into effect is yet to be announced.
UK Student Visa Fees
Employment and the UK Student Visa
Can I work on a Student Visa UK?
Yes, you can work on a UK Student Visa. However, there are some restrictions on how many hours you can work per week.
How many hours can I work on a Student Visa in the UK?
Depending on your circumstances, you may be able to work up to 20 hours per week on a Student Visa in the UK. However, please refer to the list below to understand the exact amount of hours you will be able to work on a Student Visa in the UK.
- If you are an international student studying at degree level or above and currently hold a UK Student Visa, you can work for up to 20 hours per week during term time.
- If you are an international student studying below degree level and currently hold a UK Student Visa, you can work for up to 10 hours per week during term time.
It is important to note that this restriction to your working hours is a combination of all the jobs or volunteering activities which you do. For instance, say you are studying a course at a degree level if you work for 10 hours per week in a paid position and also volunteer for 5 hours per week, then the remaining hours available for work or volunteering would be a maximum of 5 hours per week.
Can you work outside of term time on a Student Visa?
Yes, outside of term time these restrictions to your working hours do not apply, therefore, you can work full-time outside of term time.
It is important to note that the term "outside of term time" also encompasses the period after an individual has officially completed their course, which is typically 4 to 6 months. For example, students studying for a three-year degree in the UK are granted a three-year immigration status along with an additional 4 to 6 months to attend their graduation and make any necessary changes to their immigration status. During this post-study period, individuals are permitted to work full-time, but it's worth noting that they cannot be offered a permanent contract during this time.
What happens if I work over 20 hours on a Student Visa UK?
If you work over 20 hours on a Student Visa UK then you will be in breach of your visa conditions. If you breach your visa conditions then this may have implications for your current visa and future visas.
Employing someone on a Student Visa in the UK
As a UK Human Resources professional, it's crucial to ensure that all personnel involved in assigning work hours, such as managers, are fully aware of the work restrictions pertaining to Student Visas and the specific periods when students are eligible to work full-time.
Failure to comply with these regulations can result in serious consequences, as exemplified by the 2012 incident where Tesco was fined £200,000 for allowing individuals on Student visas to work up to 70 hours per week during term time. By properly educating and informing all personnel involved in staffing decisions, these violations can be prevented.
It's worth noting that there is no specific minimum salary requirement when hiring an individual with a UK Student Visa. Nonetheless, it's important to adhere to the National Minimum Wage requirement.
Right-to-work checks and Student Visas
When employing individuals with a UK Student Visa, it is important to obtain the correct right-to-work documents prior to their first day at work. In the case of individuals holding a Student Visa, the following steps should be followed:
- Obtain the relevant document(s) and share.
- Verify the document either through a manual right-to-work check or an online right-to-work check.
- Create a copy of the documents and right-to-work checks and note the expiry date.
Furthermore, it is essential to obtain a letter from the individual's university or education institution confirming their enrollment, course details, and term time dates. This letter should be obtained at the start of each academic year to ensure that you are aware of the 10 or 20-hour rules that apply, as well as when full-time work is permitted. By following these procedures, you can ensure that you comply with all relevant regulations and avoid any potential issues.
How can Paragon Law help?
At Paragon Law our immigration lawyers have established relationships with several universities across the UK and regularly host events for their enrolled students. Therefore, individuals looking to study in the UK can be assured that Paragon Law's expert immigration lawyers are able to assist them in the process. Ensuring everyone involved is aware of mandatory rules and regulations.
UK Student Visa: FAQs
Can you switch to a Student Visa?
Yes, if you are in the UK then you may be able to switch to a Student Visa if you meet the eligibility requirements. However, if you are in the UK on one of the following then you will not be able to switch to a Student Visa from inside of the UK (you must do so from outside of the UK):
How much is a Student Visa?
It costs £490 to apply for a Student Visa from outside of the UK. Individuals wishing to apply to extend or switch to the Student Visa from within the UK must pay £490. All applicants are required to pay the immigration health surcharge as part of their application which is £624 per year.
How many hours can you work on a Student Visa?
The number of hours you are able to work in the UK on a Student Visa is dependent on circumstance:
- Student Visa holders who are studying a degree-level course (or higher) can work for a maximum of 20 hours per week during term time (including hours worked / volunteered elsewhere).
- Student Visa holders who are studying a course that is below degree-level can work for a maximum of 10 hours per week during term time (including hours worked / volunteered elsewhere).
Outside of term time, Student Visa holders can work full-time hours.
How do you apply for a Student Visa?
You must apply for a Student Visa online.
When making an application the following documents must be provided:
- A current passport or another valid travel document.
- A Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) from the course provider.
Additional documents may also be required.
Individuals who are applying from outside of the UK will be required to prove their identity by either attending a biometrics appointment or using the UK Immigration: ID Check app.
Graduate Route Visa
Graduate Route Visa
If you are currently in the UK on a Student visa and you have successfully completed your course then you may be eligible to apply for a Graduate visa. The Graduate visa allows individuals to stay in the UK for at least 2 years. This visa cannot be extended, and so, prior to this visa expiring, individuals will need to switch to a different visa.
Skilled Worker Visa
Skilled Worker Visa
If you have received a job offer for an eligible occupation from an approved employer then the Skilled Worker visa may be more suitable. The Skilled Worker visa allows individuals to work and live in the UK. The visa can act as a direct gateway to permanent settlement in the UK (indefinite leave to remain and later British citizenship).
High Potential Individual Visa