Student Visa

The new Student visa route replaced the Tier 4 (General) student visa route on 5 October 2020.

The Student visa route offers overseas students the chance to study at one of the highly sought UK educational institutions.

From 1 January 2021, students from the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein that come to the UK to study will also need a Student visa.  Students who have settled or pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme do not need to apply for a Student visa.

How to qualify for the Student visa

To qualify to apply for the Student visa, you have to be 16 years or older. If you are 16 or 17 years old, you will need consent from your parents to apply.

You will need a place on a course by a licenced student sponsor. The proof of a place will be in the form of a Confirmation of Acceptance of Studies (CAS). A student will need the CAS before they can apply for the Student visa.

You will have to prove that you have enough money to pay for the study course for one academic year (up to nine months). The amount you need to pay will be on the CAS.

Students will also be required to show that they have enough money to support themselves. The amount will differ depending on where a student will be studying, as the maintenance requirement is higher in London. You do not need to fulfil the financial requirement if:

  • You are in the UK and had a valid visa for at least 12 months on the date of your application.
  • Your application is for a student sabbatical officer
  • You are applying as a postgraduate doctor or dentist on a recognised foundation programme.
  • You are a British national overseas or from a country listed under differential evidence requirement.

All persons have to fulfil the English Language requirement. The English language requirement is usually proven by passing a Secure English Language Test at an approved provider. It is important to note that the level of English required differs for different study levels. Please speak to your consultant to make sure that you are writing your English test at the correct level required.

When can I apply for my Student Visa?

Students applying from outside the UK can apply for the visa six months before the start of their study course. If the length of the study course is six months or less, the student can arrive in the UK one week before the course starts. If the study course is longer than six months, the student can arrive in the UK one month before the course starts.

Students who are applying from within the UK can apply three months before the start of their study course. You have to apply for your student visa before your current visa expires. The new course must start within 28 days of the current visa expiring.

Immigration Health Surcharge

If you are applying for a UK visa for a period of longer than six months, you have to pay the UK Immigration Health Surcharge.

The cost is £470 per year, per student. (Effective from 27 October 2020)

Length of stay

The length of time a student can stay in the UK will depend on the length of the study course, and whether the student has already completed other study courses.

A student 18 years or older studying a course at degree level, can usually stay in the UK to study for up to five years. In cases where the course is below degree level, the student can usually stay for up to two years to study.

Right to Work

A student’s right to work in the UK will depend on what they are studying. It will also depend on whether the work is during term time or out of term.

Please speak to your Breytenbachs consultant before you automatically assume your right to work, while on a student visa.

You will not be allowed to do the following;

  • Claim public funds
  • Work as a professional sportsperson or coach
  • Work in self-employment

Switching to a Student Visa

In some cases it is possible to switch to a Student visa if you already have permission to be in the UK.

It is not possible to switch to a Student visa from one of the following types of visas:

  • Visitor Visa
  • Short-term student visa
  • Parent of a Child Student visa
  • Seasonal worker visa
  • Domestic worker in a private household visa
  • Leave outside the immigration rules.

Spouses and Dependants

Partners and children may be able to apply to join you in the UK. Partners can be a husband, wife, civil partner or an unmarried partner. Children are children under the age of 18 years old.

Partners and children can join you if you are one of the following:

  • A full-time student on a postgraduate level course (RQF level 7 or higher) that last nine months or longer.
  • New government-sponsored student on a course that lasts longer than six months.
  • Doctorate Extension Scheme student.

Please note that there is also a financial maintenance requirement for partners and children joining you in the UK. Please speak to your Breytenbachs consultants for more information and cases where this is not required.

Indefinite Leave to Remain

Unfortunately, a Student visa does not lead to Indefinite Leave to Remain.

There are, however, other immigration options available upon completion of the studies. One such option is switching to the Tier 2 (General) category from within the United Kingdom. The advantage of this switch is that the Tier 2 route will put the student on an immigration route leading to ILR.

How Breytenbachs can help you

If you are interested in studying in the UK, please contact one of our consultants to guide you through the process. We have a dedicated team of consultants specialising in the Student Visa routes.