UK Visa Facts for Students
Yes, getting a student visa can be a time consuming process but, is of course, absolutely necessary. The following is meant for general information purposes ONLY and should NOT be treated as official information.
To find out if you need a visa, you should consult your local embassy and for visa status and official, up to date advice visit the UK Border Agency website. Here they have extensive information, which will likely answer any and all of your questions. You’ll get information (and application forms) regarding child visas, student visitor visas, extended student visitor visas, and adult general tier 4 visas.
First and foremost, students from the EU, EEA or Switzerland do NOT need a visa to enter the UK or to study in the UK.
EU/EEA countries are the following:
Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the UK
Students who are NOT from EU/EEA countries fall into two categories: visa-national and non-visa national.
Non-visa national countries are the following:
Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Croatia/Herzegovina, Honduras, Hong Kong, Israel, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Panama, Paraguay, South Korea, Taiwan, Tibet, Uruguay, USA
Visa-national countries are the following:
Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Angola, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belarus, Benin, Bhutan, Bolivia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Burkina Faso, Burma, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, China (except Hong Kong and Macao), Colombia, Comoros, Cuba, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Fiji, Gabon, Gambia, Georgia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Guyana, Haiti, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Ivory Coast, Jamaica, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Korea (North), Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Lebanon, Liberia, Libya, Macedonia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Moldova, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Nepal, Niger, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Qatar, Russia, Rwanda, Sao Tome & Principe, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa*, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Surinam, Syria, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Thailand, Togo, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan, Venezuela**, Vietnam, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe, the territories formerly comprising Yugoslavia
* Exceptions are made for South Africans visiting the UK using the same passport used for a previous visit to the UK.
** Venezuelans who have new secure fingerprint passports issued since 2007 will be allowed to enter the UK without applying for a visa.
The Student Visitor Visa (SVV)
This visa is for students who would like to study in Britain for 6 months or less. If you are a visa-national you MUST apply for this visa in your country. If you are a non-visa national you can have your passport stamped as a Student Visitor free of charge upon your arrival to the UK. There is no English level requirement for this visa and you may study any number of hours per week and at any number of schools you wish. However, you are NOT allowed to work with a Student Visitor Visa and it CAN’T be renewed or extended or changed to another visa type from within the UK. There is a wait period of 6 months between SVV’s.
Though non-visa nationals can have their passports stamped on arrival, they can also apply for the Student Visitor Visa from within their own country. Though not mandatory, doing so is a prudent way to minimize any potential (albeit unlikely) risk of being refused entry to the UK. Also, it is important to know that should you be a non-visa national with only this Entry Clearance Student Visitor Visa stamp in your passport you will need certain documents should you happen to travel out of the UK during your studies there. Be sure to have your visa letter, your course confirmation letter, and any other International House documentation which you possess.
The Extended Student Visitor Visa (ESVV)
This recently introduced visa permits a student to study in the UK for 6 to 11 months (and you must show evidence that it is your intention to stay this long in order to qualify). The rules regarding visa- nationals and non-visa nationals are the same. BOTH must apply for this visa from within their countries of origin before arrival in the UK –NO student will be able to have their passport stamped upon arrival with this visa type. Otherwise, the rules pertaining to the Extended Student Visitor Visa are exactly the same as those for the Student Visitor Visa. But, as always, be sure to check the UKBA website for all the latest information.
The General Student Visa (GSV)
The General Student Visa permits a student to be in the UK for up to 3 years. Additionally, it permits the student both to work (up to 10 hours per week) and extend the visa from within the UK. To qualify for this visa you must be of 18 years of age and need to provide evidence that your English level is B1 and that you are prepared to study at the B2 level. B1 is a level of English defined by the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR). It is an important level, essentially an intermediary point between more simple and complex language structure and usage. For example, anyone able to pass the Cambridge English: Preliminary exam (a.k.a. PET) is at a B1 level. Visit the UKBA website for a list of approved tests.
Finally, for the GSV visa type you must study ONLY at the school which accepted you and for a minimum of 20 lessons per week (or 15 hours). And it must be obtained IN ADVANCE of your arrival to the UK for a cost of GBP 220. But, again, be sure to check the UKBA website to be sure this fee hasn’t changed.
If it’s your plan to enroll in a University Foundation Programme you CAN’T apply for the new Extended Student Visitor Visa. You must choose between the SVV or GSV visa types.
Tier 4 Requirements
A points-based rules system called a Tier 4 Student Visa is used to determine your eligibility.
You need 40 points to be able to apply for a student visa. You will get this by:
- Course confirmation: make sure to obtain a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) from a language school or a university approved by the UK Border Agency (UKBA).
All schools and universities must have been given or applied for Highly Trusted Status (HTS) on the UKBA Tier 4 Sponsor list (30 points).
- Funding: you have to provide evidence of financial resources to pay for both your tuition fees and your monthly living costs (10 points) – that might approximately be £1,000 for each month of your studies provided that you live in inner London. If you live in outer London you should have roughly £800 for a month.
- Remember, you can only apply for a visa once you already have been given a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies.
- Also, check you are entitled for a UK Student Visa but do not apply until after you have been accepted into a course.
- Finally, do not travel to the UK without a valid student visa.
Once again, we’d like to emphasize that one should not base any final decisions on this article which is here to provide students with a look at the general framework for the UK visa process NOT complete or official information.
Be absolutely certain to visit the UK Border Agency website as they have an efficient, user friendly site and there you will get all the most up to date information on the various types of student visas as well as other types of visas including work visas, tourist visas, and visas for family and partners.