Last Updated: January 21, 2021
Getting a Student Visa for the UK
The process of getting a Student visa can seem a bit daunting for students who are going abroad for the first time. But worry not! We have got you covered.
The process of getting a student visa to go to the UK is pretty straight-forward with minimum hassle. Below you will find all you need to know - from the details for applying for a visa to what happens when you enter the UK.
Let's dive right into it!
UK Student visa for EU Nationals
As of January 2021, UK officially left the EU which is known as 'Brexit'. Due to the Brexit, the rules for EU students have been changed and it impacts them in 2 ways; which are as follows:
- Students from the EU living in the UK before or on 31st December 2020 have to apply for an EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS). The settlement allows the students living in the UK to continue working, studying and have access to healthcare benefits as per usual. It is free to apply to the EUSS and the deadline to apply to the settlement scheme is till June 30th, 2021.
- Students from EU who are going to start their course from January 1st, 2021 first need to check if they need a visa to go to the UK. Students starting their course year from January 2021 are NOT entitled to the EUSS. If required, you need a Student Visa (previously known as Ter 4 General Visa).
Student visa for Non-EEA Nationals (previously known as Tier-4 General Visa)
The 'prospective student' (which is for post-16 education like BS or above) category is for nationals of countries outside the European Economic Area (EEA).
Do I need a Student Visa?
Yes, nationals from countries other than the UK need a Student Visa to enter the UK for studies. If you are unsure if your nationality would need a visa, it can be checked on the GOV.uk website.
US nationals need a Student Visa to enter the UK. The visa is valid for the duration of your course (plus one month).
You can apply for a visa within 3 months
before you start your course. You can arrive in the UK no earlier than one month
before the start of your course (and no earlier than one week if your course is less than 6 months).
To come to the UK as a student, you will have to produce the following documents:
Remember: When you arrive in the UK, an immigration officer may question you, so take all relevant documents in your hand luggage.
- Your valid and updated passport.
- A letter of unconditional acceptance for a full-time course or a UCAS letter.
- Evidence of your ability to meet, without working in the UK, the costs of your course, accommodation and maintenance and to support any dependents accompanying you.
- Tuberculosis test or a Health check-up (depends on your Country).
What about working in the UK?
You may take part-time or holiday work but you must not
work for more than 20 hours per week
during term time unless your placement is part of your studies, has the agreement of your educational institution and leads to a degree or qualification awarded by a nationally recognized examining body.
What restrictions will I have on my visa?
The student visa to study in the UK is very flexible and allows you to work as well as get paid for the work you do. There are no restrictions in terms of going around the UK and the EU, but there are certain things not allowed by the student visa.
You are not allowed to:
- Do any kind of business or be self-employed.
- Provide services as a professional sportsperson.
- Provide services as an entertainer.
- Work as a full-time employee at a permanent job.
Other than the above-mentioned restrictions, you will have limited hours of work listed on your visa which should not
be exceeded under any circumstances.
What kind of jobs can I do in the UK?
With a student visa you are allowed to do part-time jobs only
with certain hours in a week. The UK has plenty of part-time job openings in every sector. There are no restrictions as to the number of part-time jobs you can take up, but be mindful of not exceeding the number of hours allotted to you.
Can I switch to a Work Permit employment visa when I am in the UK?
It is possible for students to switch from a Student Visa to a work visa, but you may be able to switch only if:
- You have completed a recognized degree course at either the UK publicly funded further or higher education institution or bonafide private education institution which maintains satisfactory records of enrolment and attendance.
- You hold a valid work permit for employment.
- You have the written consent of any government or agency which is sponsoring you.
- You have not broken immigration law.
Note: Switching of Student Visa to an employment visa does not require you to move back to your home country as long as you have all the needed documents. Switching of visas may incur extra charges.
Can I bring my husband, or wife and children with me?
Yes, you are allowed to bring your family members as your dependents. Your husband or wife and any of your children under 18 can come to the UK with you during your studies as long as you can support them and live without help from any public funds.
The authorities must also believe that you are a genuine student, that you intend to leave at the end of the course and that you have the required qualifications to take the course.
What about re-entering the UK after the holiday season?
If you are issued with a visa for more than six months, it will be the equivalent of multiple entry visas. If you are a national of a country where entry clearance is a requirement, and your course is for six months or less you may want to consider applying for a multiple entry visa to leave and re-enter the UK during this time.
Furthermore, if you are coming to the UK with a visa for more than 6 months, you will be issued a BRP (Biometric residence permits). A BRP is issued 10 days after you enter the UK and will be valid until the date of your stay. BRP gives you the following benefits:
- right to study or work in the UK
- a confirmation of your identity
- other public benefits that you're entitled to.
More about the BRP (Biometric residence permits)
A BRP is a very important card that will help you get access to the UK if you have left for holidays. When you are issued your BRP, your visa's importance goes down as the BRP is what identifies you.
You need not apply for a BRP separately. When you apply for your Student visa, the details for your BRP are taken during that process. A BRP includes the following information about you:
Note: Do not enter the UK on a visitor's visa with the intention of changing to a student visa at a later date. This is because unless you are from a country whose nationals do not need to obtain a visa before coming to the UK, you will not be able to change to a student visa and will have to return home to make an application.
- The status of immigration and the length of your stay.
- Your fingerprints and a black and white photo of yourself.
- Your name, date of birth and place of birth.
- Whether you have access to public funds and the number of hours you are allowed to work.
Does the student visa have an impact on my accommodation?
In self-contained flats, your rent will usually be payable monthly, and your landlord or landlady is unlikely to live on the premises. Any rules you are required to keep will be written in the lease or agreement you have signed which is legally binding. The lease will usually be for specific periods and once you sign you are committed to renting the flat for that length of time. So study the lease carefully before signing, and if necessary take legal advice.
Passport stickers, stamp and length of stay
The following stickers and stamps are on your passport when you go to the UK:
Note: The Immigration Officer will have endorsed your passport with any other restriction that may apply to you.
- If you apply for a visa at the British Embassy, Consulate or High Commission outside the UK, you will receive a sticker called a Vignette on your passport with your conditions and length of stay. When you arrive at the airport, you will receive a stamp with a date to show when you entered the UK.
- If you are applying for entry at a port of entry (you can only do this if you are from a non-visa national), you will receive a stamp in your passport with your conditions and length of stay.
- As mentioned above, you are allowed to stay for the full duration of the course and plus a few more months (1-4 depending on the course). At the end of that time, you must leave the UK unless you have applied to extend your stay or to switch into another immigration category.