Student and Graduate Visas
What is a Student visa?
A popular question is “Do I need a visa to study in the UK?”. In most cases, the answer will be yes, as the person needs to obtain a permission document before entering the country.
A Student visa is a document that permits the person holding it to legally reside in the United Kingdom, much like all other visas do. The main difference here is that this specific document is designed for students.
One of the features of a visa for students in the UK is its flexibility: the validity duration of the document is usually adjusted depending on the length of the studies. But while it opens a lot of opportunities for the government to issue various visas in this category, it adds a lot of nuances for the people who have to apply for this document. There are many aspects that have to be kept in mind, in order to get things right. What makes the situation even more complicated is that the studies are scheduled for most people, so failing to obtain a visa might ruin the whole course.
Types of Student visas
As mentioned, UK study visas are rather flexible. To distinguish between different formats of the document, three different categories of visas have been implemented. They are:
- Short-Term Study visa.
- Student visa (previously known as Tier 4 General).
- Child Student visa (previously known as Tier 4 Child).
Short-Term Study visa
This international student visa in the UK is only granted to people who intend to come to the country for a short course of English language. The educational institution must have the necessary accreditation or licence. The eligible length of the course may be between six months to eleven months. In case the course is even shorter than 6 months, it may be possible to apply for a Visit Visa instead.
Student visa / Tier 4 (General)
The Student visa, previously called Tier 4 (General), is intended for those aged sixteen or over who want to receive an education in the UK. In this case, the student should make sure that the institution he/she has chosen holds a Sponsor License.
Child Student visa
People can apply for a student visa of this type they are under eighteen years old and intend to study in an independent school. If you’re older than seventeen or are not going to an independent school, you will need to get another student visa.
Eligibility requirements for a Student visa
Before making an application for a student visa in the UK, it is necessary to understand the requirements associated with the document. As described in the previous section, there are several types of document, and the requirements might vary between them. The common eligibility requirements for all of them are that the person has to:
- Be able to support themselves or be supported financially throughout the period of stay.
- Be able to pay for the studies themselves.
- Know English language at the specified level.
Short-Term Study visa requirements
The first requirement here is that the person has to be invited on a short course by an eligible course provider. Then, the course itself is required to have a duration between six and eleven months. Last but not least, the course needs to be an English language course, as this type of student visa is designed specifically for learning English.
Student visa requirements
Before looking at how to apply for a UK student visa, it is important to take its eligibility requirements into account. To obtain a regular student visa, a person will need to have an invitation to study, issued by an eligible sponsor.
Child Student visa requirements
The first requirement that is unique to this type of visa relates to the applicant’s age: the person needs to be aged four to seventeen. Similarly to the regular Student visa, it will be necessary to obtain an invitation for studies at one of the approved independent schools. Also, the person will be required to prove their parents consent.
Required documents to apply for a Student visa
Many people wonder how to get the student visa in the UK, and it is reasonable, as the list of required documents is rather long. The documents depend on the requirements, some of which were reviewed in the previous section. Thus, the first of them is the Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies, which is issued by the course provider. Secondly, the person will have to provide the authorities with their current passport and related documents required for traveling. For some nationalities and courses, an ATAS certificate will be needed as well.
Then, the applicant will have to prove they are financially capable of paying for the course and supporting themselves for the duration of the course. In most cases, it will be enough to provide a bank statement.
Applicants aged sixteen and seventeen years old will have to provide the authorities with some additional documents. First of them is the proof of consent from their parents. The person is also required to prove their relationship with the person giving consent. These requirements are applicable both for the regular student visa and the child student visa.
Some additional documents may be requested by the immigration authorities. Moreover, some students will be required to provide the visa centre with their biometric information, such as their photos and the scans of their fingerprints.
How to apply for a Student visa?
The process of submitting the application is rather straightforward: it is completed online, but a visit to the visa centre will be required nonetheless. The other aspects of submitting the application depend on whether it is done from outside the UK or from within the country. The processing time and the time of submission are different in these two cases.
For people who apply from the United Kingdom, the application can be submitted within three months before the course begins. It is important to get the timing right, as there are several nuances associated with applying from within the country. Firstly, the current visa has to be active at the time the application is submitted. Secondly, the studies should begin within 28 days from the expiration date of the current visa. Last but not least, it is important to take into account that the normal processing time is up to eight weeks.
For applications from outside the United Kingdom, the process is slightly easier. The application may be submitted within six months before the scheduled date of the studies, and there are no additional nuances to that. The processing time here is up to three weeks.
UK Student visa fees
Understanding UK student visa fees also may be tricky, as there are multiple factors that may affect the sum. The first of them is the place of application, as applying from within the United Kingdom is more expensive.
For the regular student visa and the child student visa, the fee would be £490 if the application is submitted from outside the country. In case it is submitted in the United Kingdom, the fee is £490.
The short-term study visa, that is designed for learning English, is less expensive. The UK student visa fee is £200 with no regard to where the application is made.
No matter which type of application is made, the person will also need to pay the healthcare surcharge. In cases where the person is applying for a visa valid for less than one year, the surcharge does not exceed £470. It is important to consider some additional fees as well: for example, the person may be required to pay for a language test. The validity term of the document typically depends on the length of the course. Degree courses in the UK most commonly last for three years.
How can we help?
The team of Sterling Law is willing to help out the students who wish to ensure their application gets approved. Our professional lawyers have lots of successful student visa cases in their experience, and they are ready to provide all the assistance required. Our office is based in London, but it is also possible to have a consultation online.
We are ready to guide you through all the steps of the process, from choosing the correct type of student visa to preparing all the documents for the application.